Having a mental illness is scary. Accepting that you have a mental illness can be even scarier. You feel alone, isolated, and just...scared. Constantly. And that's exactly how I felt for years.
I started to realize something was wrong when I was in the 6th grade. I was being bullied, I really didn't have a lot of friends, and I was just unhappy. I was very clearly depressed. I didn't want to hang out with one of my only friends I had anymore - I always said I just wasn't feeling well. I wasn't myself at all but I was really good at putting on a good face, even being 11 or 12 years old.
Not knowing how to handle how I was feeling, I started using my computer to search feeling sad and lonely all the time and I learned about depression. I read a ton of information about how to live with it. I read all about the stigma behind depression and it took any chance of me telling my parents off the table. Absolutely not. I didn't want them to think I'm 'crazy' or something. Looking back now, I realize that's completely absurd because my parents have been nothing but supportive in my search to find myself again.
In my searches I read all about different coping mechanisms - a lot of them including things like taking a blade across your skin. I remember the first time I ever cut myself. I remember finding a pair of scissors and dragging them across my leg. Not enough to make anything more than a small scratch - but enough to spark an addiction. It became my coping mechanism and I really, truly didn't see anything wrong with it. How silly of me.
Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of my self injury issue as fast as I was able to start it. It took a while to learn it was wrong, but I did and I'm so thankful I moved past that point.
But I was left with the same problem - I didn't know how to handle my depression. I still didnt want to tell my parents, so honestly I didn't do anything really. I kept a journal, where most of my entries consisted of how much I hated myself. I actually read my old journal a few weeks ago and it broke my heart that I once felt that way.
When I was 16 I developed an additional problem, I developed anxiety. Some pretty severe anxiety. It got out of control, i would be laying in bed and just have a panic attack and I couldn't pinpoint why. I have arthritis in my back muscles and I had a doctors appointment one week. Without even telling my parents I told my doctor I needed something to control it. My chest always broke out in hives and it made me so upset and I couldn't live like that anymore.
She told me about my family history and asked me if I was feeling depressed also and that's how I started my first anti-depressant/anxiety medication when I was 16. I was on Zoloft and it was fine for a while until I got to my senior year of high school. I was depressed as ever - my best friends had all just graduated and I felt so alone in school. I barely went because I couldn't get myself out of bed. We ended up upping the dosage of my anti depressant and it wasn't working so I just figured that's how I was meant to live. I was supposed to feel that way. It did a good job of managing my anxiety so I figured it was fine and I was being dramatic.
I didnt end up saying something until about 6 weeks ago. I went to just get my medicine dosage upped but meeting with my doctor it was decided that switching would be better because I was experiencing some of the side effects from Zoloft.
Call me clichè, but i feel like a completely different person being on a different medication. I feel alive and happy and like a have a purpose - feelings I didn't have since I was 11 years old. I have bad days, really bad days. There are days where I don't want to do anything but sleep and days where I'm so anxious I don't even want to leave my room. But it's different now because I know I can have those days every so often, and I'll be okay eventually.
I know I have people that will make me get out of my head and fight back. Hanna is always there, and shows me that I have so many amazing qualities when it's foggy to me. My parents and sister provide me unconditional love and support, and don't push me to share things I'm not ready to share. My best friend, Maddie, lets me stay in her room when I'm not having a good night even though I know she wants to go to bed because she works at 8 am. I have people that have my back which is something I'm not used to, and makes living with my mental illness so much easier. They believe in me and know I can do this.
One of the hardest things the past 9 years has been I didn't think I would ever be okay again. I was trying to figure out how to cope with the fact I was sexually abused by someone I admired. I didn't think I could overcome that, or being depressed, or anxious.
I wish I would have believed my parents, my sister, my best friends, my girlfriend, my therapist... I wish I would have believed them when they told me I would make it through this because they were right. I can make it through anything if I'm willing to put in the work. It definitely isn't something that has come easy and it's taken a ton of self relflection and work. I'm still working on it in therapy and with my doctor to make sure my medicine is doing what I need it to do.
I work harder than I'm sure most people realize. Some peoples coping includes pretending like it doesn't exist but my recovery relys on acknowledging that it does.
I didn't reach out because of the stigma, my purpose in life is to end that stigma. Mental illness needs to be talked about instead of ignored and even elementary and middle schoolers need to know they have resources available to help them.
Thank you to the people in my life that haven't judged me for my mental illnesses. Thank you for letting me know I still have value. Thank you for supporting me. And thank you for showing me I have a purpose.
Im not writing this to gain sympathy that I struggled for so long. I'm writing this to show you that no matter how long you struggle, it's possible to overcome anything thats thrown your way. You all have something amazing to give to the world and there is a reason you are all here.
As always, you can always email me here. Talk to me about your lives and whatnot.