Life After Death — By H. Rachelle Graham
The pain inside me used to eat me from the inside out, as if boiling water scorched my skin to third-degree burns. Breathing was difficult. Eating was impossible. Sleeping was something I could not do. I was out of my mind and couldn’t even recognize my own parents. I thought they were evil spirits chasing me. My ups and downs resulted in me staying at home all day watching marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson Creek and One Tree Hill. I got lost in a world where everything wasn’t hurting, I also lost track of time and hated my life so badly I tried to kill myself age twenty. At the time, I wasn’t happy I survived the doctor pumping my stomach and recharging my heart. I believed they had wasted their time. Although, as I saw the pain and worry in my parents and sisters eyes a part of me knew they needed me in this world so I had to learn how to survive in it. I started Alliance House in 2011. I recognized the pain disappearing slowly as I was put to work both in a transitional employment and at the clubhouse. My transitional employment was with Camp Bow Wow, working with dogs. I liked it and enjoyed being able to bring my service dog to play with other small animals like her. The biggest shock came when something else started happening. I thought I was sick. I went to my therapist to see what was wrong with me. When I described my symptoms of calmness, a bubbling inside and the need to sing, write and dance again, I thought I was going through another maniac state, but my therapist asked me other questions. My answers were I was sleeping again, dreaming again and feeling the urge to eat again. Instead of staying in bed all day, I jumped out of bed to go see my new friends at the clubhouse, go to work and finally got my life back. She said I wasn’t experiencing mania, I was feeling happy, something that had become foreign to me over time since being diagnosed at the age of twenty. Hospital stays became non-existent and I haven’t tried to hurt myself since 2011. Since then, I had a successful job for two years as a peer specialist where I could in turn help others deal with their mental illness, published two novels starting in 2012, graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and am currently working on a third novel with a writing coach and a New York City literary agent. If I ever make real money, I would donate to the Alliance House because they are one of the main reasons the days are lighter, that I am writing again and that I not only love myself but have the ability to help and love others.