What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous

I couldn’t pee. I had to. I had the sensation to go, but I couldn’t. I remember, as a kid, that this sensation would eventually go away, but this time it wouldn’t. I continued to drink a lot of water, but still nothing. It got to the point where it hurt. It was physically painful that I couldn’t go. I called my mom. It was late at night, and she was startled by both the call and the problem. She suggested taking a hot bath so I did. But nothing. I was willing at that point to pee in the bathtub, even if it meant sitting in my own urine. But nothing. And it hurt more and more. She asked what happened.

So I told her what I could remember.

I was at my desk writing – lists of story ideas, artists’ names and book suggestions, all while studying. It hurt. All of the pressure. It was too much. I wasn’t happy but I was trying so hard to be. It was killing me inside, despite all of the meds. Remeron. Lexapro. Effexor. Ambien. And the list goes on. It felt like I was dying. Slowly. The pain that day was just too much to bear. Even the Xanax wasn’t working. I was panicking and I couldn’t breathe. I remembered I had had a kidney stone a couple weeks earlier and I still had my pain killers. I was in great pain. And I had pain killers. That was my thought process. I just wanted to calm down. To breathe. To smile again. At that point I only faintly remembered what it was like to smile. I was lost at my desk and in the bathroom and living room. And somewhere between there and wherever else I was about to go, I panicked and took one. Just one. But after a few minutes, it wasn’t working. So I took another. But nothing. I tried listening to music, watching television, reading and writing. But nothing worked. The pressure of everyone else’s happiness was bearing down on me. I couldn’t take bringing anyone down with me any longer. Still, nothing. I took a third and soon after that a fourth and then another, by that time in quicker succession. I was scared. I just wanted the pain to end. I stood in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, staring at the extent of my pain. I knew I was suffering. I just wanted the pain to go away. To stop keeping me from living. To stop keeping everyone else from their own lives while having to tend to mine. It was something they couldn’t understand, something I couldn’t quite describe or explain. All I could do was try. And another. For some reason, I remember taking 8 Percocets. Perhaps because it is a multiple of 4, perhaps I took 12. It could have been more because that’s when I stopped remembering what I was doing. I wanted to think, I told myself, that I only wanted to calm down. To numb the pain. That I didn’t want to harm, or worse, kill myself. But maybe it all got to be too much. Too big and too painful. Maybe it was my way of coming to terms with what I was really dealing with. Something so overwhelming that I would try to kill myself just to end the pain. I don’t remember the immediate effects on my body until later that evening. I was in bed trying to fall asleep. But, still, nothing. Maybe I was finally able to doze off, maybe not, but I remember getting up with an urge to pee.

But, still, nothing. I took a bath, but, still, nothing. I started to cry and panic. Why couldn’t I pee?

And then I was overcome with acute nausea and I quickly started vomiting. I realize you always throw up uncontrollably, but at that moment, and those painful moments thereafter, I was again losing all control. Of my mind and now my body. And I still had to pee.

I called my mom again, and by that point, she said I needed to go to the hospital and that she’d meet me there with my father. It was well into the middle of the night. I cried and I cried and I was just trying again to calm down. Just outside the hospital I threw up again. I was taken pretty quickly into the emergency room and I tried my best to explain what happened. What I did and what I might have been trying to do. Even though it felt like the pain killers and Xanax weren’t working or at least kicking in soon enough, my body was still reacting. My insides and bladder, I was told, were too relaxed, almost more or less numb. The catheter was painful and I held my breath as they inserted it. By that point my parents walked in and I lost it again, I cried in my mother’s arms. After everything I had been through, everything I tried my best to fight, I was losing this battle against whatever was going on in my head. I don’t remember what happened next, until they took the catheter out, more pain, and told me that I had somehow broken the law. More pain. I was being transferred to an offsite psychiatric department and since I broke the law I was taken in a police van. To make me feel better the guy let me ride up front.

My parents met me at the next part of the hospital and by that point I finally felt a small sense of calm. I was at least able to breathe in and out with what had been by then an unfamiliar ease. I was immediately taken to a white room with white floors, walls, and ceiling and two white beds. And a window through which I was able to see and wave to my parents. They must have been scared too, but they did a great job at hiding it. There was a middle-aged man sleeping on a white bed at the far side of the room, softly snoring. I wondered what had brought him in that morning.

I spoke to the doctors on staff and they in turn spoke to my regular psychiatrist with whom I also spoke with at the very end of this ordeal and promised him I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I was just trying to calm down. When the pills weren’t working I panicked –why weren’t they working? And a few more after that, but again I promised him that I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Finally, they let me go home. And after this – all of this from overnight to that morning – the worst period of my life – my parents came with me to get a new driver’s license, new photo and all. I’d use that same driver’s license for the next seven years and only until I lost it did I part with it. Even though it was a picture of when I was apparently suicidal, I carried that photo of me in my pocket every day. Every day for seven years. It was me on that day. It was the address where I lived, although ironically, from that moment on, I would never sleep or reside there again. This address, too, was a reminder.

Though calmer, I was still in so much pain and I was tired. I was exhausted of course from not sleeping and the physical and mental exertion I had just gone through, but I was also tired of having to deal with whatever it was I was dealing with and the doctors who apparently weren’t doing their job, or at least a good job in treating me. Nobody would listen to me. To how I felt, the thoughts I’d been having for quite some time by then or to how I thought I had been misdiagnosed. The doctor in Cape Town said so and it all made sense to me once he did. He told me to discuss it with my doctors when I returned to the States, and I did, but nobody would listen to me. And that was a year prior to this bleeding ghost of a night. And so I battled along with everything and everyone around me for yet-another year because I wasn’t an MD. I didn’t know what I was talking about. I didn’t have the experience in the field. I didn’t write the case studies on how clinical depression differed from manic depression.

In all, both before and after my time in Cape Town – when Dr. Hugo suggested I might have bipolar disorder – I experienced 3 years of getting worse. Three years of antidepressants, sleeping pills, and as-needed benzodiazepines. I would later learn that antidepressants in particular made people with bipolar worse. Worse off to the point of overdosing in some cases. It wasn’t just me. I wasn’t alone. This thing was happening all over to all kinds of people – doctors full of BS talking over you, about you to you, to your face, as if they know you better than you know yourself. It was only afterwards, with a new and more open-minded psychiatrist that I was finally properly diagnosed with bipolar II and OCD disorders. Don’t get me wrong, these were by no means music to my ears, it’s just that it seemed as though, finally, there was a reason I was the way I was. The way I am. My father always pointed out that there are no x-rays to detect mental illness. Well, that might be the case, but it didn’t make me feel any more comfortable with the other doctors’ pompous and sanctimonious misdiagnoses. This was something I could point to. I read more about both illnesses, and that’s when it started making sense. What was putting my body through all of this pain. It was painful in so many ways. Indescribable, although this is my attempt to try. Reading those books was like looking inside my mind, at the root of my problems. It was uncomfortable material to take in but also somehow soothing. There’s someone out there who listened to someone else before writing these excerpts I read over and over again. Over and over so I wouldn’t forget that I’m not alone. The pain I felt, and from time to time still feel is so deserting. Perhaps I don’t deserve to live after all.

Years later, I’m happy to say those days have been few and far between. I’m on a good regimen of medication, and I truly see that I have so much support around me. Yet it was not that long ago, that for me to fully accept and understand my illness, I needed to know if I still needed the medicines in the first place. I went against my doctor’s judgment and slowly weaned off of everything. He had told me that if my symptoms came back – and he was certain they would – they would be back to an even greater degree. He was right. It got to the point that, again, I could no longer take the pain. I eventually had to go back to the hospital, this time not to deal with an overdose, but to prevent one.