I didn’t know anyone. Maybe that’s why it happened. I had family history of it. Maybe that’s what happened. During October of my freshman year of college, symptoms of mental illness began. It was scary and foreign to me. I didn’t know what it was or what to do and suffered in silence for the next five months.
Negative thoughts were yelling in my brain telling me things like “No one likes you.” Soon after, I started getting horrible images of wanting to die. I pictured sitting in my bathroom with a gun in my hand. It was all in my head. It was an intrusive thought that would not go away. In the spring specific thoughts of suicide entered my mind. I didn’t want to live anymore.
My priest at college advised me to go to the counseling office on campus to get help for the first time. The staff led me to the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Student Health Services. The appointment with her was on my 19th birthday.
At the appointment, the nurse asked question after question for 22 minutes then gave me my first mental illness diagnosis. I had major depression. It was 2:22 P.M. She put me on antidepressants. I called my parents because I had a serious mental illness and was on serious medication after suffering in silence for five months. My parents knew nothing of this until then. I had been faking it while home on winter and spring breaks. The phone call last 45 minutes.
For the rest of the semester, my parents visited me each weekend, driving 2 ½ hours each way. My symptoms were so severe that my counselor gave me two options: Either go home to finish semester classes or have a parent stay near me at college. I chose to go home.
There were ensuing stomachaches and dizziness from medication but the depression decreased. My memory and concentration were affected. I was taking a literature class that semester and was reading a book that I knew well from high school. Comprehension was so bad that my mom had to read the book out loud to me paragraph-by-paragraph and even that was difficult. Remembering the names of the two main characters of the novel completely escaped me.
I found a therapist near home and started Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) with her twice a week. She was very helpful during that summer away from school. I recovered from major depression and returned to school in the fall.
The fall semester went really well with great grades. When spring semester started, however, images once more filled my head. The main image was of me killing someone I knew. That freaked me out. I knew it wasn’t normal and I needed additional help. That’s when I admitted myself to the hospital for the first time.
I spent five days in the psych ward where the staff adjusted my medication and handed me some sheets about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Before then, I didn’t know much about it. The little I knew about it were of people who washed their hands a lot. That wasn’t me. It turns out that I was living with OCD undiagnosed since the previous summer.
During the second summer, a psychologist who specialized in OCD and Exposure therapy moved back to where I lived. He was the perfect match for me and I continue to see him. I trusted him 100% and started tackling my obsessions. This kind of therapy was very difficult but helpful at the same time. Results were seen quickly.
My junior year was going well until April of 2015 when I remembered something traumatic had happened to me earlier at age 16. I was sexually abused by an older man of 24 years who knew me. I had blocked the event out of my head until that moment. Since I didn’t know what to do, I contacted my psychologist.
A couple weeks later, I heard voices telling me to kill someone I knew – a different person from before. I was acting strangely and didn’t know what to do, so I emailed my psychologist that same night.
The next morning was a pleasant Friday in Northern Minnesota and my roommates and I were planning to do mini-golfing later in the evening to relieve stress before upcoming finals. However, after my afternoon class I received a call at my apartment. It was from my psychologist. I knew he was calling me about my email the previous night. We talked and he said to go to the hospital. I was the only one in the apartment at that time so I went to my Resident Advisor (RA)’s room. She wasn’t there as well, so her roommate notified her.
That same afternoon, I admitted myself to the hospital for the second time. This time I was there for ten days trying other medication. I left knowing that I had psychosis. That summer, I was in an intensive outpatient program for three months.
During the second summer and the fall, I had hallucinations and delusions. One September morning I had thoughts that God had sent me to save the world. I thought it was real. My mom advised me to call my psychologist. So, I did. Later in the day, I admitted myself to the hospital a third time and was put on new medication that really helped.
A month after I got out I saw a new psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar. A few months later, I added Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to my list of mental illnesses.
Since my experience with mental illness, I have been outspoken about mental illness on social media. Last year, I created a website for mental health advocacy. Now it’s an online business with hopes of becoming a non-profit after college graduation. It’s named “From Darkness into Light Resources,” and I’m its founder and CEO.
Krista Pylkki is the Founder and CEO of From Darkness Into Light Resources, which is currently a mental health online business, with hopes to become a non-profit one day. She is also an online college student studying Theology and minors in Marketing and Organizational Behavior. Check out her website at www.darknessintolightresources.com