Dedication: This one goes out to all those who have felt the pain of mental illness, either personally or by association.
Hey guys, I’m Shanessa, and I’m just here to tell you a bit about my life experience. For me, living has always been a struggle, my journey with mental illness began when I was 10 years old. Anxiety, depression, OCD. I had no idea what any of those were when I first started to feel them. I thought it was a normal thing to cry yourself to sleep every night, and have no friends in school because you’re literally scared of other people and what they’ll think of you.
This is my story.
I hid my mental illness from everyone around me until I was fifteen years old. Fifteen. Five years. I spent the years that were supposed to be fun and happy, in a constant state of sadness and anxiety. I wanted to die. By fifteen years old I was done with life, I convinced myself that there was no happiness to be found for me in this world. Until I got high. If there is one thing you take out of my story, please let it be that drugs suck. They don’t solve anything, and if you allow them to, they will consume you. Addiction is something that ruins people. I’ve been an addict for three years now, and it almost killed me. Twice. And that, my friends, is how I ended up in a treatment center. That’s getting slightly ahead of myself though, let’s talk about the past a bit longer. So struggling with depression, anxiety, and OCD led me to a life fueled by the want for more drugs. Anything to get my mind to slow down and shut up. The worst thing about having OCD is that you obsess over things; I always freaked out about things that I COULD have done. “Why didn’t I react this way instead?” “I should’ve said that instead!” Constantly beating myself up for things that I could no longer change. I went to therapy sessions for two years before I went to a treatment center, not that it ever helped much. Honestly, if you’re sad and have no hope and your life has been shitty and you don’t even know what to do anymore because mental illness is ruining your life, you should probably consider some intense treatment. Your life didn’t get all fucked up in one day, and you CANNOT BY ANY MEANS get better in one day. It took me almost THIRTEEN MONTHS to get to the point where I am now. Happy. Calm. Hopeful. It took me choosing to get better and be happy EVERYDAY. I still choose to be happy and healthy every morning when I open up my eyes, and realize that I am still living. “I’m thankful for another day to be alive,” that’s what goes through my head now.
Okay, a bit more backstory because it took a lot more than that to get to the point I’m at now. By the time that I was seventeen years old I was an insecure girl who got high to deal with my mental health problems. I was skipping my classes, and the ones I did attend I wasn’t sober for. I remember math class in particular, I’d go to it while I was tripping balls and take notes, and when I’d go to read the notes the next day, I couldn’t understand them. It was almost as though I had written them in a different language. Scared the shit out of me. What was supposed to be the best years of my life were an absolute living hell. At this point all my diagnoses were ruling my life; drug usage, cutting, drinking, picking off my skin(dermatillomania). I just couldn’t hack it anymore. It was November of 2016, my first overdose. I’d swallowed a whole bottle of pills, woken up at midnight, and had thrown up for a solid three hours. My liver was failing. One of the worst times in my life was the four hour ambulance ride to get me to a hospital in a bigger city. All by myself, wondering if I would even make it, if I’d ever see my family or friends again, thinking “this is it, this is how I’m gonna die.” But I didn’t die, I survived and went back to school after a few weeks. My second overdose was in December 2016, I took like 27 tablets, had a seizure in school and got taken to the hospital. That was my last time being inside that school. After it all, my mum gave me the option of going to a treatment center in Utah. I couldn’t live the way I had been anymore, so I agreed. IT SAVED MY LIFE. I can tell you with 100% certainty that had I not gone to treatment I would be dead right now. But its not like I just went there and got better all of a sudden, because that’s not how things work, unfortunately. I made the decision to get better, and worked my ass off to get there.
That’s about it. I guess I just want to share my story with others. Inspire hope. Cause when I was in that deep, dark hole of depression I didn’t have any hope. So moral of the story: don’t give up. There’s so much happiness to be found in life, so much to discover and create, and you deserve it all. So please, don’t ever give up on yourself, and if it ever feels as though you have no one, please remember that I will always be here, cheering you on from the sidelines.