A Long Day’s Journey into Therapy, pt. 4

After breaking up with him, my mood went on a long, upward swing. Sophomore year of college found me succeeding in the theatre department, taking on an art minor (and winning best in show in the Otterbein Juried Art Show that winter), excelling at my two work study jobs, and finally fitting in at Otterbein. I had a fantastic group of artistic friends in New York City, who I would visit on breaks. The nagging doubt and derision would get me every now and then, but I fought it off. Zach and I rekindled our friendship the summer after freshman year, and we were back to being best friends. Everything was going swell, and that good mood continued until very recently.

As junior year started, I felt the beginnings of a depressive episode stirring within me. I oscillated between numbness and unshakable sadness.  It started to affect my schoolwork again. I was head painter for Spring Awakening, but I couldn’t find it in me to care about the show. I put off working on it and fell behind, concerning my professors. They recognized that something was wrong. Indeed, my depression was preparing to rear its ugly head again, but my genetics weren’t the only thing triggering it: I realized that my housemate Emily was exacting a huge emotional toll on me. I’ve described my experiences with Emily multiple times, but in summary, she was violent and abusive toward me and my housemates, and toward herself. I’d known her since freshman year, and I knew that she suffered from mental illness of some kind, spurring her to attempt suicide multiple times. One night, freshman year, she locked herself in her room, threatening to slit her wrists; my roommate and I stood outside and talked her down. Eventually, she flung open the door—scissors spread on her desk—and fell, sobbing, into our arms. She was averse to therapy or treatment. My involvement with her reached its apex last month, when she came home intoxicated, ripped off her clothes, hit herself, and threatened suicide. My housemates and I called the police, but they left when Emily was successfully roused from drunken unconsciousness. They said that she was just “hammered,” and their cavalier attitude led my housemates and me to believe that that’s all it was. Emily was just very drunk, and not seriously threatening herself. Of course, that wasn’t the case. Emily proceeded to stagger downstairs and hurl verbal abuse at us for hours, screaming about how much she hated us and detailing her multiple suicide attempts. The night culminated with her coming into my room, gripping the back of my neck, and kissing me several times, while telling me how much she resented and loathed me.

My housemates and I fled the house the next day, and spent half a week in protective housing. After a long series of authoritative fumbles, Emily got moved out of our house and we moved back in, but the incident left me spooked.

To be continued…

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