Dedication: Women struggling with mental illness
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with anxiety. My earliest memory of it was in the first grade. I talked in class, trying to make a friend – unfortunately, I did it while the teacher was speaking. She got angry, and made me walk to the front of the class. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was terrified my classmates would look at me in disgust. That was the first and last memory I have of trying to make a friend.
Fifth grade was when my depression hit. My anxiety was also still so overwhelming that it had become draining. I isolated myself at home and at school. During lunch and recess, I’d sit in the bathroom because I was too afraid to go outside and not have someone to play with.
Middle school, though, was the worst time of my life. I submerged myself in academics to distract myself from the reality that I was sad. I had very few friends, and hung out with almost no one outside of school. I managed to make it through seventh and eighth grade with the help of a few small friend groups. But that was not the case for ninth grade.
2020 felt like a breaking point. I didn’t mind the isolation, but I felt like my eyes had opened up to many issues with the world that I had previously ignored. I started falling behind in school, and staying up till sunrise. The only time I wasn’t in my room was when I was at school.
February 20, 2021 started off feeling like a normal day. It was actually pretty fun. I’d gone out to lunch with my family, and I was doing well. But when I got home, my overactive brain started working, and my anxiety kicked up.
You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes before you die? Well, it happened to me that day because I was thinking about dying.
All of a sudden, I found myself replaying all my struggles from the past in my head, as well as thinking of all the problems in the world I couldn’t magically fix.
That night, I made a suicide attempt. I immediately told my mom what I’d done, and my dad called 911.
I was so confused by my conflicting emotions. I regretted the attempt, but part of me still wanted to die. I was also confused by the reaction of my siblings. My brother was crying, my parents were hysterical, and the three of my sisters who were at college drove home to be with me. I was confused because everyone seemed surprised by what I’d done. But to me, it felt like it should have been expected: I thought it was so easy to tell that I was going to do this. But they had no idea.
Looking back, it made sense: I had never told my family about my depression and anxiety. I realized I had hid it pretty well. Part of me was angry at them for hurting in reaction to me trying to stop my pain.
Now that my “secret” was out, my parents bought an extra bed for me to sleep in their room for the next couple of months. At the time, I thought it sucked! But looking back, I’m extremely grateful. They didn’t trust me to be alone, and to be honest I didn’t trust myself either.
They also started me in therapy, which I still go to, today. It has been extremely helpful.
But that doesn’t mean how I was feeling was a quick, simple fix.
Unfortunately, I made another attempt.
This time, it was different. I hadn’t planned it, I didn’t want it, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I hadn’t thought about it in a while. I saw a convenient opportunity to take my life, and I went for it. Luckily, I was okay. But I was so frustrated with myself! I knew people cared about me. “Why do I still want to die?” I angrily asked myself. “I have it so much easier than others!”
But this time was a wake-up call for me. It’s when I finally knew I really needed help.
I started taking therapy more seriously, and trying to work on a future I would love.
I was working on myself and it helped a lot. One thing I did was sign up for an app that texted me an inspirational message each day. It seems simple, but it helped.
I gained more trust in myself, and I moved back into my own room.
To be frank, I’m much better, but I’m not totally healed. That’s not how it works. I still get depressed, and I still experience anxiety. But I’ve turned those things into assets, in a way. Now that I have accepted help, and am actively working on my own mental I am allowed to say these words.
WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE AN INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER AND AN ADVOCATE FOR THE YOUTH!
You may be thinking. Why did she just write that in all caps?
Because seven months ago I wouldn’t have even dreamed about my future. Today I can proudly say that I want to grow up. I want to be somebody, and do important things to help others. And that is incredible. I feel so proud of myself.
People can be depressed at any age. For me, it started very young – too young. But help is always available. I encourage anyone who is struggling to persevere. Not for me, not for your family, or friends or loved ones. But for your own future, which you may not be able to see clearly while you’re in pain.
I couldn’t see it before, but I see it now.
Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.