Worth Living Ambassador and Official DJ Scratchley Q

Scrathley Q is a 23 year old from Manitoulin Island who loves sharing her passion for DJing with the public. She is a natural performer who has no problem filling a dance floor and keeping it moving. Scratchley Q is a high energy performer who has established a reputation as a versatile and professional, hardworking DJ. She presents a weekly Top Countdown of music videos for the WL blog.  She also has mixed 5 Volumes of Worth Living BPM Therapy  www.mixcloud.com/djscratchleyq

Caution: DJ Scratchley Q discusses Suicide


The Guilt and Shame after a Suicide Attempt

Yes, I attempted suicide, yes, I failed, and yes ,I feel guilty. I’m not proud of my attempt. In fact, I regret what I had done. I wish I could turn back time and change everything. For years I kept my suicide attempt a secret from everyone. I never wanted to talk about it. I even tried to forget about it and pretend that nothing happened. But here I am facing my fears hoping to help at least one person. I’m sure at least one other person has felt what I have. What most don’t know is often people who commit suicide don’t actually want to die. They just want the pain to end. In that second when they are about to take their own lives, they just want the pain to stop. At that time, before ending their own life, it was the only thing that seems logical. Today I’m still learning to cope with the shame and the guilt that I have felt after my attempt.
Guilt, I didn’t feel guilty and I didn’t think about guilt beforehand until I woke up in the hospital room, cold, severe ringing in my ears, a terrible headache, aching body, IVs in my arm. A doctor came in to tell me how lucky I was, then had to draw blood from my wrist to send off for testing. I didn’t feel lucky. I was slightly confused about why I was still alive. I was grateful I was alive, but the guilt set in. I started to piece together in my head the things that I could remember. I felt deep emotional pain, I felt worthless and stressed. My anxiety was at an all -time high. I swallowed a lethal dose of aspirin right before I went to bed. I remember it was early in the morning, 3am, I was at home, a family member heard me yelling for help, my parents drove me to the hospital in a snow storm. I don’t remember anything else. Lying alone in the hospital, I started to feel like I let my family down, I let myself down, everyone is going to find out and judge me.

I felt shame. I was beyond humiliated. People say that people who die by suicide are selfish. I wasn’t trying to be selfish. Someone found me in a terrible state. Seeing my parents for the first time after the attempt was the worst. Even though they love me unconditionally, I could tell they were not impressed, I could feel anger and confusion from them. There was no sympathy for what I had done. I know I have caused so many others pain.

I wish I could say my care at the hospital was good but it wasn’t. The doctor was great, but the nurses treated me poorly. I even heard one say as she started her shift “is that stupid young girl still here that attempted suicide, she’s just seeking attention”. I later came to realize that maybe she is just ignorant or not educated about mental illness. More shame and guilt when it came to seeing if I was mentally stable enough to be released. The questions that the evaluator asked me before I could be released were the most difficult, but I knew if I answer the questions a certain way I would be released. So I lied for some of the questions, okay, maybe a majority of the questions just so I could go home and hide from the world.

Home was difficult for a while. I was terrified someone would approach me about it. As I said, I didn’t want to talk. I agreed to go to therapy as to see a professional. I didn’t like that she made me feel like a bad person even more than what I felt already. She basically told me my situation was all my fault. After a few short weeks of therapy, I said I no longer needed it. The truth is I didn’t connect with the professional and I had no other option.

Since then I have found ways to deal with my shame and guilt. Every once in a while it gets very challenging and hard to deal with. I’m slowly learning to accept the fact that I’m still internalizing the shame and guilt. I know I shouldn’t have to. I know I have a few close people I can talk to. The fight is long and strenuous but I have to keep fighting. I encourage anyone who has felt the same as me to reach out to someone. You don’t have to do this alone. Keep fighting.

Your Live is Worth Living.  – Scratchley Q


Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q

After the passing of Chester Bennington last week, I was asked to do a Top 10 Countdown with just Linkin Park songs. As a fan, this countdown was super challenging not only because there are so many good LP songs and each song has a special message, but also knowing that Chester is no longer on this earth is difficult. You just never know the battles someone might be fighting deep down inside. Sometimes we don’t understand what goes on inside someone’s head and how they are truly feeling. I encourage everyone to be nice to one another and listen to each other with open ears and an open heart. If you think someone is struggling or thinking of suicide, don’t be afraid to reach out to that person. So here’s this week’s Linkin Park Countdown in memory of Chester    – Scratchley Q

Visit: http://chester.linkinpark.com/

Linkin Park Top 10 Countdown
10. Lost In The Echo

9. Castle Of Glass

8. Somewhere I Belong

7. Crawling

6. Heavy (ft. Kiiara)

5. New Divide

4. What I’ve Done

3. Burn It Down

2.  In The End

1. Leave Out All The Rest

Bonus Track….One More Light

Worth Living Ambassador Kimberley Robinson

Hi! My name is Kimberley, I am 21 years old and I am from England. I feel like anxiety has always been a part of my life from a young age but wasn’t diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder till I was 17. Having struggled with it for four years, in recent months I have also been diagnosed with depression. Just an aspiring counsellor fighting the stigma one day at a time!

Is There a Way Out Of Here?

I often think back to times in my childhood where I think, ah it makes sense now. At six years old I thought it was ‘normal’ to be sat crying in the dinner hall not wanting to eat my dinner because it was too loud. I felt like the walls were crashing around me and I felt sick to my stomach. I’m guessing that must have been where it all started? When I received invitations to class mates’ parties,  I would cry to my mum and tell her I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want her to leave me. Moving up through the years of primary school would be a constant struggle, starting a new class with a new teacher, what if they shouted at me? What if I couldn’t keep up with my friends in my class? Everyone is going to laugh at me.

My anxiety subsided when I started high school which is quite surprising. I rarely had any bouts and I enjoyed going to school. From the age of 13,  I dreamed of being a nurse, I have always wanted to help people, I am extremely empathetic and compassionate and I thought I would make a fantastic nurse.

When I left school, I went to college and studied a health and social care course where I delved even more into the nursing career. The more I learnt the more I wanted to know. Whilst coming to the end of my first year of college,  my mum and dad split up after being together 26 years. My life was turned upside down, I suddenly had more responsibility as my younger sister was only 12. My dad moved out and my mum started to have a ‘social life’ and was online dating. My dad became depressed and he would text me all day everyday asking what my mum was doing and telling me he didn’t know if he could go on anymore without her and without living with me and my sister.

It’s safe to say that’s when my anxiety hit me HARD. I started my second year of college and I was struggling a lot. I was gagging when I was waking up in the morning because I was so nervous about going. I used to have to run to the bus stop and get on the bus before I changed my mind and turn back. It only got worse from there, I felt completely alone, my mum got into a new relationship, my dad got into a new relationship, my sister was too young to understand and I just felt so alone. I went to the doctors to get a proper diagnosis. They told me I had generalised anxiety disorder but didn’t really help me with much else. I was skipping college, somehow I managed to finish my course and by some miracle I received 3 A*’s (top marks) and secured a place at university after going through an absolutely draining interview process.

Although I had my place at nursing school,  I felt like it was nothing but a dream to become the nurse I have always wanted to be as my anxiety was just too debilitating.

After leaving college I had a few months gap before starting university so I got myself a job and I met my wonderful boyfriend. My anxiety was ok, I could function, I felt a lot better than I had done and I thought I had gotten through it. I started nursing school a little wobbly but just put it down to healthy nerves. I passed my first semester with flying colours and I was doing really well, but then anxiety started creeping back up on me and I could feel it going out of control.  I managed to get through my second semester but didn’t know how much further I could go.

I was approaching the end of my first year and my final exam and placement were coming up. I managed to get through the exam (just about), my boyfriend was extremely supportive, and held me whilst I was crying in his car before I had to go in and sit the exam. I was a wreck. Somehow I got through it though.

My first day at my final placement came and I crumbled. I never went back. My dream was over. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I had let myself down. My anxiety completely took over my life. I had developed debilitating health anxiety from learning about lots of different things whilst at nursing school and I convinced myself that my horrible tension headaches that I had been having were something a lot more serious.  For nearly two years  I still believed it was something serious, suffering every day, four visits to the doctors about them, whilst they ‘reassured’ me I was fine.

Since leaving university,  I have a had a couple of jobs in customer service but anxiety has made me really struggle and chipped away at me every single day. I have been subject to discrimination and singled out because of my mental illness within work places which made me extremely passionate about squashing the stigma around mental illness.  It’s been a blessing in disguise as I believe this is what I should be doing in life.

I have been blogging about mental illness, I have secured a place at university again studying psychology, counselling and psychotherapy which I start in September and I hope to pursue a career in helping and supporting people who live with the mental illness every day. I have been put here to make a difference in the way people see mental illness and that’s exactly what I set out to do.

Thank you so much for reading

Kimberley x

P.s go follow my Instagram @whereanxietytalks !!

Worth Living Ambassador Felicia Singh

Hello, my name is Felicia. I am a 25 year old healthcare professional and counseling/psychology student with anxiety. As well as someone with an unexplainable yearning to understand mental health disorders. The who, what, where, when, and whys of it all. I am a regular contributor to the Worth Living Blog.

Give Support to Get Support

I’ve mentioned in my past posts how crucial a strong support system is to living a stable and fulfilling lifestyle when living with a mental illness. For those who  deal with a mental illness,  you are aware of the trials and struggles that you may go through. The ups and downs of your illness. Now think for a second what those trials and struggles may be like for the people in your life. How do they feel?

Communication is key in any healthy relationship. Being able to effectively interact with the people in our lives is important. For someone who plays the role of a spouse, parent, friend, or family member to someone with a mental illness communication may not seem such a simple thing. It’s important to discuss the details of your mental illness with the people in your life. They should understand your stressors and your triggers just as well as you do.

What about your role in a relationship? We discuss often the stigma that surrounds mental health and the assumptions that people tend to make about those of us who may be living with a mental health disorder.

Let’s be objective for a second and actually take a look at some of those stereotypes that may actually have merit. Can you be moody and unpredictable? Do you have a difficult time connecting and relating to other people? Are you inconsistent? Do you ever feel irrational?  For those of us that deal with bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, or other personality disorders (just to name a few), these may actually describe a few aspects of our personality. Our illness is our illness. We must all play the cards that we were dealt BUT you should play the hell out of them.

Your mental illness does not have to define who you are. It doesn’t give you a pass to treat the people in your life unfairly. It’s not a get out of jail free card. It’s something that we should except, explore, and figure out the best method of how to best deal with it. Understand that for the people in your life your mental illness can be frustrating and confusing.

Take some time today to really tell the people in your life how much you appreciate and respect them. Take responsibility for your behaviors and actions. Come up with different and healthy ways for dealing with your mental illness. Having a mental illness is not a choice but choosing to deal or not deal with it is. Remember that. As long as you’re alive your life has meaning and it’s definitely worth living.

Worth Living Ambassador and Official DJ Scratchley Q

Scrathley Q is a 23 year old from Manitoulin Island who loves sharing her passion for DJing with the public. She is a natural performer who has no problem filling a dance floor and keeping it moving. Scratchley Q is a high energy performer who has established a reputation as a versatile and professional, hardworking DJ. She presents a weekly Top Countdown of music videos for the WL blog.  She also has mixed 5 Volumes of Worth Living  BPM Therapy  www.mixcloud.com/djscratchleyq

Tackling Mental Health in the Music Industry

Many people say that 2016 was the breakthrough year for mental health in the music industry. Many musicians have spoken out about their struggles with mental illness. Some musicians including Zayn Malik, Kesha, Selena Gomez, Adele, Lady Gaga, just to name a few. But is it really enough? What is really behind the scenes of the music industry when it comes to the stigma around mental health? Most people can agree that music can make you feel good when you’re feeling down. Music can put you in a good mood.  Music is a way to express feelings that we may not have the exact words for. Music is a wonderful thing we can all agree.

The music industry is glamorous, right? Well, that might not be the case. Studies have found that musicians are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression. Being in the spotlight is a challenge in its self. The interviews, paparazzi, meetings, travel, promos, performance after performance during tours. Too much of this can lead to poor lifestyle choices, late nights, alcohol, drugs, and more which then can lead to poor mental health.

Musicians struggle with passion vs. job insecurity. Musicians are full of passion when it comes to creating and performing music. Sometimes we forget to turn off work mode. Most often there is no “work off” switch option. As I said, being in the spotlight is not easy. Issues like depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, panic attacks, self- harm in some cases, suicide are all too common in the industry.

In the last few years the industry has lost some great names. Suicides in the music industry should be a wake- up call for the industry to change a few things and quickly. It’s not something that can just wait. Who is to blame? The musician, managers, agents? Like the average person, musicians find it difficult to reach out especially when in the spotlight because there is no privacy. No one want’s others to judge them and no one wants to potentially lose their job. It can be very difficult. Now let’s put the musicians aside for a second. We can’t forget the managers, booking agents, the people that are behind the musicians. Many young mangers who  are just starting out in their careers lack resources. They may be struggling too, but feel afraid to ask for help. They may feel like they cannot ask for help because it might make them look unreliable and unprofessional. The stigma is strong and it will take a long time to break those barriers.

Job security in the music industry adds to the touchy subject. Sure, there are contracts and such, but if you can’t bring what the client needs or wants, you become old news. Your career is done! The music industry is working on ending the stigma around mental health and finding ways to create a strategy that will help everyone in the industry from the ground up. There is a long way to go. The music industry needs to work with partners and professionals of their own industry. Now that the industry has started to open the dialogue about mental health they need a concerted strategy that can help. No one should struggle in silence, we are all human, no matter our profession. The music industry should not have to suffer in silence. To the music industry, let’s keep that dialogue open. We need to come together as one.  – Scratchley Q

Worth Living Ambassador Ann Ottaway

Ann is a 30 year old former legal assistant, animal lover, and a believer in new beginnings. Ann shares her recovery journey with the hope that her story allows others to realize they are not alone.  She is a regular contributor to the WL Blog.

Caution: Ann mentions Suicide

A Tribute – Chester Bennington

I can vividly remember the seventeen year old version of myself listening to the songs that captured my feelings in ways that I never could. Navigating my own feelings let alone putting them into words felt impossible and frustrating beyond comprehension, but I had those songs to do it for me. As I reflect on the death of Chester Bennington,  I reflect on memories of myself crying and trying to capture my breath as his voice articulated everything that I could not.

Flash forward fourteen years later to a time when I hear those songs again and those overwhelming feelings are a distant memory. After a suicide crisis and over a year of treatment, I can articulate all of the feelings I once had. I have tools to cope with my emotions and medication to manage my symptoms. Fourteen years after I needed the voice of someone else to speak for me, I am in recovery and living a healthy and happy life.

Now the same voice that helped me through so much pain is gone. The voice that I felt so much empathy for is gone. The voice that touched the lives of countless others who felt just like I did is gone.

So much sadness surrounds his death. I am sad for his wife and six children, his family, friends and fans. Mostly, I feel sadness for a man who helped so many people but ultimately felt so helpless that he ended his own life.

I have read many tributes that show gratitude for his life by people who felt just like I did and got through their experiences by listening to the same songs. A life ended by suicide ought not to be remembered simply as a tragedy. Instead, I choose to remember a life which brought hope to myself, my friends and thousands of strangers. When death occurs it leaves a ripple effect, but it in no way overshadows the impact of the life that preceded it.

Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q

We have all heard the saying self- care isn’t selfish. Often we caught up in our busy lives and forget to take some time for ourselves. Each person’s idea of self-care and self- love is different. It’s up to that person to find out what is best for them. Maybe your self-care routine involves some music. If that’s the case here is this week’s countdown featuring anthems of self-care and self- love. Feel free to play on repeat. Enjoy -Scratchley Q

Worth Living Top 10 Countdown- Self Love / Self Care Anthems

10. Who You Are -Jessie J

9.Flawless -Beyonce ft. Nicki Minaj

  1. Titanium -David Guetta ft. Sia
  1. I Feel Beautiful -Fantasia
  1. Unpretty- TLC
  1. Shine -Anna Nalick
  1. Shake it Out -Florence and the Machine
  1. Love Myself -Hailee Steinfeld
  1. Needed Me -Rihanna



  1. Video -India Arie
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq86e4Fhja0




Worth Living Ambassador Natalie Volpicelli

Hi! I am Natalie Volpicelli, a rising third year studying Psychology and Economics and minoring in Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia. All my life I have struggled with anxiety and OCD whether that was paranoia, insomnia, germaphobic, etc. However, five years ago my anxiety, OCD and unattainable strive for perfection manifested in a more physically damaging way: anorexia. Since then, I have had many ups and downs. I needed to come days away from death to realize my worth, but I hope that by sharing my story and new found confidence and strength with others they can use my experiences to see why life is “worth living.”

“It’s Not Me, It’s You”

On the anniversary of FOUR YEARS since I was released from being hospitalized, I decided to share a letter I wrote while there. The prompt was a “letter to my eating disorder.” At the time, a love letter would have been much easier, but I mustered up the courage to write a break up letter (wasn’t quite brave enough to do a face to face one yet… that one happened just about a month ago – better late than never?) While writing this, it was quite hard to believe my words, but I knew that one-day I would. I told myself to read it everyday since it was written to remind myself why I fight.

That didn’t happen.

In fact I got quite lost, while my letter hid away. Rather than taking up the healthy habits I dreamed of, I added depression, bulimia, and self-harm to my repertoire.

Then I found the letter again.

I did not physically hold it in my hand, but mentally the mind frame came back. I found why I fought so hard in the hospital to beat my eating disorder again. I saw all that was lost and dreamed of all I could gain if I just gave up my eating disorder.
And no, that wasn’t just pounds.

It was moments: moments with my family enjoying dinners and holidays together because fighting about one more bite of the famous Volpicelli pasta sauce, rigatoni and meatballs or 1200 Christmas cookies that we spent 3 days making really isn’t worth ruining my favourite holiday or moments with my friends drinking and eating late night snacks while trying to forget the exam we may have failed but still laughing and enjoying every moment because a B really IS NOT the death of me. All the moments began consuming my life rather than my eating disorder.

Finally, I re-joined cheer. I shouldn’t have made the team. It was a highly competitive university squad and I was nowhere near where I was pre-ED…but the coach heard my story and found something in me she liked. If someone I just met believed in me this much to take a girl who falls to her head trying to do a backhand spring now because her arms are now no muscle, no fat, just bone, then why shouldn’t I believe in me? Why shouldn’t I want to prove her right and prove that I am worthy of this spot? And that started with eating. So now, 15 pounds and three months later I am PAST my goal weight and actually revisited this letter, for real.

I can share this and mean it. I can read it and believe it.

So please enjoy this now maybe too highly anticipated break up story…

Dear NED (Natalie’s Eating Disorder),

It’s been a year since you have come into my life. As I look back at this year, I can see all the comfort you have provided me. I was lost when you came and I used you as guidance. I was alone when you came and I used you as a friend. I was confused when you came and I used you as an answer. I was stressed when you came and I used you as relief. And now here we are a year later and you want to celebrate a one-year anniversary. Celebrate a year of artificial peace and a hope for many more years together. But you are wrong. Because here I am, a year later, and I am not the weak girl you met then. I am not “little Natalie,” I am grown up. I never would have believed I could say goodbye to you or my “perfect, ideal” image, but I am ready.

I know you are a creation of my anxiety and perfectionism, but at times you felt so real. All of your promises of “being the best” athlete, student, or person because of your rules seemed so attainable. But in fact, you were like a parasite feeding off me at my most vulnerable point in order to keep yourself alive. You sucked the life out of me. My social life, my concentration, my sanity, my health: all gone within months. Because of you I went from happy and healthy to living a life of paranoia, 16 hour workouts a day with little nutrition, and shivering in ninety-degree weather.

For a year you tricked me into thinking I was nothing and the only way I could be worth love was by listening to you, and suddenly it turned into only wanting to be worth your love, but you never gave it to me. Instead you gave me nothing but lies and hatred. Every time I saw my weight drop 100…90…80…70… you made me feel like I was accomplishing something, making all of my discomfort and health issues seem insignificant. You pushed me around, and fogged the pain with a false hope of happiness. You took advantage of my need to please and longing to be perfect and set the bar to an impossible standard waiting, wishing, and hoping for every failure so you could degrade me. And a year later you want me to sit passively so you can take advantage of me once again. You want me to forget the people who really love me and forget the things that really make me happy and replace true peace with your false sense of sanity and happiness. But I will not let you trick me like that anymore.

Why must you insist on contaminating me? And it is not only me. I see you tearing down my friends and tormenting all of the over-achievers and girls with perfectionism and high-expectations running in their blood…just like me. Everywhere I am, I hear your influence. Every conversation, every commercial, every show is all about being perfect. I have never been one to worry about other’s opinions, but you made me think twice. How did you break through my wall? How did you consume me and turn me into nothing? You made my thoughts seem normal, even “healthy.” Was that your twisted way of controlling me?

You tried to take my talents away from me, ruining everything I get joy out of. School became difficult: instead of studying, I was exercising; instead of focusing on notes, I was focusing on you. Sports were taken away from me. I went from a powerful high-level gymnast to barely able to walk up stairs…an all star cheer captain to a no-muscle, purple-skinned piece of glass, breaking with every hit. You took me away from my friends, and tried to force me to only befriend you. You turned me against my family and mutated my home into endless fights, tears, and shame.

I bet you were upset when I learned how to reach out to others for help, seeking comfort in shared ice creams and laughter rather than the empty stomach and tears you offer. And when I have that extra snack so I can finally cheer again, how betrayed will you feel? Or when I skip a workout to study my way into UVA? I know how furious this will make you, but it will make me finally feel…free.

To be honest, you can try to tear me down and try to keep making your way into my life, but there is no longer room for you.

I am stronger.

I work harder.

I am more than an eating disorder.

I deserve much better than you.

Yes, I was lost and used you for guidance, but now I have my rationality leading the way. Yes, I was alone and used you as a friend, but I have friends and family who love me unconditionally. Yes, I was confused and used you as an answer, but now I have answers that do not cause me physical or emotional damage. Yes, I was stressed and used you as relief, but now I have new ways to find relief. And yes it is a year later and I was attached to you for that whole year, but not anymore. Thank you for helping me see everything I have and everything that makes life worth living, but your purpose was served and it is time for me to move on. I know who loves me, I know what makes me happy, and I know I do not need you.

Goodbye and So Long, Natalie

Worth Living Ambassador Taylor Collins

My name is Taylor, I’m 23 years old and a mother, living with Schizoaffective Disorder. If you don’t know what that is, it means I have extreme hallucinations and delusions caused by Schizophrenia and a mood disorder with uncontrollable episodes of mania and depression caused by Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.

It’s Never Too Late for Recovery

I’ve been Schizoaffective since I was younger than five years old but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 22. I’ve been living with the disorder untreated for over 17 years. Therefore, it has progressed immensely over time. I’m constantly hallucinating and always on the borderline of being present with reality and being stuck on multiple planes of existence that, apparently, only exist in my mind. I often feel like I’m losing my mind. The older I get the darker the illness becomes, even now that I’m on medication and attending therapy weekly.

Schizoaffective Disorder is a daily struggle for me and I know it is for many others as well, which is why I choose to advocate for people with mental illnesses and be open about mine and how it affects my life daily. I stand along with many others who strive to end the stigma against mental illness. I hope that I can help others living with this disorder to know that they’re not alone and that anyone reading this can identify these symptoms in themselves or a loved one so they can seek out the psychiatric help they need before the disorder progresses.

I always wonder what my life could have been like if I got the psychiatric help I needed as a child. Would I have graduated from college on time? Would I have a successful career? I never got the help I needed early on because everyone around me believed and supported my delusions.

When I was a child, I told my family and friends that I thought I could see and hear dead people. I would hear voices whispering to me, I would see shadow figures, faces looking through the windows, people chasing me, objects in the house move by themselves, doors and cabinets would open and close violently. I used to think I was haunted. I was a medium and spirits from the other side would come to me because they knew I could see and hear them. I would also tell people that I’m psychic and that I could see the past, present, and future. I could think of a person and look into their lives as if I was seeing it from their very eyes. Most people believed me, others thought I had a vivid imagination. My family thought I really was a psychic medium, so they told me to never tell doctors about my experiences because they’ll put me on medication that would ruin my mind and my organs. This was why I went so many years without treatment.

I even experienced episodes of paranoia, mania, and depression as a child. At times I would become extremely fearful of my hallucinations; it wasn’t the type of fear that most children feel, I was literally in fear for my life. I used to think ghosts or aliens were out to get me. I would cover all of the mirrors and TV’s with blankets so I couldn’t see the monsters. At some periods of time, I barely slept at night. I’d stay awake doing puzzles, building websites, drawing or watching music videos on MTV. For weeks at a time, I would stay awake the whole night then get ready for school in the morning only to fall asleep at my desk in class where I felt safe. I was productive with my school work and sociable with friends. Other times, I stopped doing my school work completely and became very withdrawn and unresponsive to other people. After school I would go to my room and isolate myself from the rest of the world, often sleeping for extended periods of time.

I had this delusion that I was “special” until I was 22 years old. I didn’t believe I had a chemical imbalance in my brain causing me to hallucinate all of these years. Things began to change after I started college and lived on my own.

I was once a very productive, smart, hardworking girl. I graduated high school a year early and as Valedictorian. At one point I went to college while working three part-time jobs. My ultimate goal was to attend the University of Michigan and be the first person in my entire family to graduate from college. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start up several businesses, boosting the economy and creating jobs for people, as well as continue my education and later go into medical researching as a career. However, when my illness began to peak all of my hopes and aspirations came crashing down all around me, causing me to slip deep into a depressive state that lasted for years. Devastatingly to me, during my Junior year of college at an Ivy League school, I lost my scholarship due to what I now realize were psychotic breaks. My heart is still broken as I write this from my unattained goals. Graduation time is especially hard for me to handle, as I watch my friends go on to graduate school without me.

Even after being forced to quit school, I still had no idea I was living with Schizoaffective Disorder. I thought I had failed at life. I was very hard on myself, maybe, I still am.

During college, I was bouncing back and forth between manic and depressive episodes. I stopped putting on makeup, showering, and brushing my hair and teeth. I would spend days, weeks even, lying in bed lacking the motivation to go to class for no apparent reason. I thought I was too smart and that it was a waste of my time, that I was going to pass with straight A’s no matter what. I would go on shopping sprees, buying things like ten shampoo bottles at once thinking I was being smart and saving money. I would go days without sleeping or eating. This uncontrollable, erratic behavior is what caused me to fail out of college. I became very depressed thinking that my life was over and that I would never accomplish any of my goals.

Out of my depression, I began partying all day and night. Inviting strangers over to my house, drinking and popping any pill I could get my hands on to cover up what I was really feeling inside. This lasted about a month until I became pregnant. I ended all of that destructive behavior as soon as I found out I was about to be a mother. I had to get my life together.

While pregnant, I tried to go back to school at a community college. I was feeling extremely happy and strangely uplifted and euphoric. At one point during my pregnancy, I had the delusion that God was speaking to me telling me that the world needed my son to stop the Anti-Christ so I had to make sure I was the perfect mother. I completed one semester with a perfect 4.0 GPA; YES! I thought, I’m back and I can do this. Oh boy, was I wrong.

The first week after I had my son I started hallucinating again. I was giving him his first bath at home when I saw a shadow figure with red eyes and a top hat standing in the water. It scared me to death. I screamed and I immediately got my son right out of the bath. My family still thought I was seeing spirits; those evil entities were trying to attach themselves to our new baby. I didn’t give my son a bath for a few months after that, I would always ask family members to bathe him. I felt like I wasn’t a good mother, I couldn’t do a simple task like bathing my son because I was so fearful of my hallucinations.

I became pregnant a second time and decided to put school on hold again. After I had my second child, a girl this time, the whispers came back to me. They were telling me to do violent things to myself, my property, and other people. I was a single mother at this time and living alone, so I refused to believe that evil spirits had been following me all my life like my family led me to believe. This was when I started to realize that there was possibly something wrong with my brain chemistry. I still didn’t believe it was psychosis, I thought maybe it was post-partum depression causing me to have these intrusive thoughts.

Eventually, my symptoms subsided so I believed my “depression” was fading away. Now that I was starting to feel better again, school still wasn’t an option because I needed to support my two children on my own. I decided it was time for me to go back to work, but it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.

I wasn’t able to hold a job for longer than a month. I was fired or forced to quit because I was suffering from hallucinations and delusions which caused severe distress and panic amongst my coworkers and customers. I believed that my boss and my coworkers were out to get me and playing tricks on me every day when in reality this wasn’t true at all. I often held management positions, and on several different accounts hundreds of dollars came up missing during my shifts. I thought someone was plotting against me and blaming me for stealing money. At one particular job as a waitress, I would have  hallucinations of  customers sitting down and wanting to order food. I was taking orders for non-existent people. When my coworkers noticed, they asked me what I was doing.

“There’s no one there, Taylor. Are you sure you’re okay?”

I became very embarrassed and angry. I started yelling at my coworkers in front of customers. When my coworkers gave me this reality check I would have meltdowns where I used to sob endlessly for hours. Obviously, these meltdowns and psychotic breaks hindered my job performance. I was a mess. I slipped back into depression after repeating that embarrassing cycle, job after job after job. I wondered- how am I going to support my family if I can’t keep a job?

I started to give in to the demands of the voices. Destroying my property, harming myself, but I was mentally strong enough to be able to refuse their demands to hurt anyone else. Eventually, I couldn’t handle the mental torture anymore. I became very suicidal and attempted to end my life on several different occasions. I felt like I was truly crazy, that I was a terrible mother and that my children would be better off without me. Thank God I didn’t succeed and I have the strength to share my story openly today.

One day I realized I was living in the wrong mindset and I finally decided to get help. Thanks to my medication and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I am working on changing harmful beliefs and behaviors and starting the recovery process. This illness has been extremely debilitating, still today I have dark moments and lose all hope to continue on with my life. But I have not given up. If you are feeling any type of darkness; DO NOT GIVE UP. It’s up to you to take the first steps towards recovery.

Worth Living Ambbassador and Official DJ Scratchley Q

Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – Reaching Out for Help Anthems

Here is this week’s Worth Living top 10 countdown. This week most of the music on this list raises awareness about mental health or has been created to encourage people to reach out and ask for help. Enjoy – Scratchley Q
10. Why – Rascal Flatts

9. Make It Stop (September’s Children) -Rise Against

 8. This Song Saved My Life – Simple Plan

7. Give It All -Train

6. Beautiful Pain- Eminem ft. Sia

5. Hope -Natasha Bedingfield

4. Try Again – Seein

3. There is Hope -Hope for Mental Health

2. Praying -Kesha

1. 1-800-273-8255 -Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid

Bonus video… Logic breaks down the lyrics and meaning of his song 1-800-273-8255