Content warning: mention of suicidal thoughts/tendencies, self-harm, depression, anxiety, self-hate
I’ve been depressed for quite some time now. It waxes and wanes–especially around my period–but never fully leaves. Although this might sound hopeless, my work in therapy has taught me coping skills that help me numb the pain that exists within me. My therapist, who is the wisest and coolest person I’ve ever met, despite her need to call me out on my bullshit, has encouraged me to use meditation instead of reaching for my dab pen. This is currently my biggest struggle.
My mental illness journey began in middle school, specifically when I was in eighth grade. I despised myself. I’d pick apart my appearance, constantly degrading my reflection for her hairy arms, protruding stomach, and pudgy face. Over time, I began to despise my personality as well, disgusted by how loud I talked or how much energy I had. I felt like I was constantly annoying everyone around me, demanding too much attention from them at all times. I slowly drifted away from them and into a world of AVICII’s music, which would constantly course through my crappy Apple earbuds. On the bus ride home, I would rest my temple on the frosty bus window and daydream, getting lost in the thumping bass and dancing tune. It was my way of living with myself.
My self-degradation wasn’t the only problem, though. Most nights I’d lie awake, watching with horror as my mind replayed every embarrassing moment of my existence on the back of my eyelids, forcing tears down my trembling cheeks. It was torture. I’d toss and turn, pleading with the God forcing me to go through this in the hopes that they’d have mercy on me, as I was exhausted from enduring my demons. Somewhere between the crying and the pleading, I’d fall asleep, only to wake up the next morning wishing I hadn’t.
Every moment of every day was a battle with suicidal thoughts. I rarely think about suicide now, but at the time it was constantly on my mind, always at the forefront. It was fueled by a hatred I had for myself and who I was, the girl who never seemed to get the joke and was always a bit “too much”. All I ever wanted to do was punish myself for not being perfect, and not being able to fit in with my friends or family. No matter how hard I tried, I always felt like a burden to those around me, like I was asking too much of them just by existing.
I was in eighth grade the first time I tried talking to my mom about going to therapy. We were in the car on my way home from school and when I told her I thought I had depression, she told me I was being dramatic, and that I didn’t need therapy.
My mom’s response was one that came from unfinished business with her own mental illness journey, something that I’ve come to understand over the last few years, but at the time it felt like the most devastating rejection in the world. What anyone in my community had heard of mental illness was stigmatized, and mental health was the butt of jokes between insensitive boys at my school and was skimmed over in health class. The education of my own experience was limited, which made it that much more isolating. Therefore, each time I talked to people about what I was going through it felt like I was being exposed for the delusional person I was, and many I confided in supported that suspicion. They’d invalidate my experiences by denying or simply ignoring them, saying things like “you’re just not being positive enough”, “you’re not seeing the bigger picture”, or “you’re going to be fine”. The last phrase wouldn’t have been as infuriating if people had tried helping me after saying it, but they all left me feeling dejected, making it harder and harder for me to open up to anyone.
It also didn’t help that my demons were my worst enemies. If I wasn’t depressed, I was ashamed of feeling depressed because objectively I had a relatively good life. I lived in a big house in a quiet suburb with two extremely loving parents, two caring sisters, and anything a kid could ever want or need. Growing up, other kids told me that they were jealous of the relationship I had with my parents, and how comfortable I felt telling them about anything and everything because I knew they’d love me no matter what. But for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure if that would hold true.
I took out my frustration on myself by self-harming before I knew what it was called. I’d bang my head or pound my fists, occasionally breaking a trumpet or a phone screen. It wasn’t until I was at the end of my high school year that I tried cutting. I got the idea from a session with a very bad therapist that I finally convinced my mom to let me see. I gave up on therapy for a while after that. This meant that when I inevitably spiraled out of control and told my friend that I didn’t think I was going to make it through the weekend, they reported me to the counselor, a nasty lady with a massive amount of short, blonde hair crowding her face. She told me that one day I’d be on stage graduating and this would be nothing but a blip. I think she meant to be nice, but all it did was make me despise her even more.
After hearing about my spiral, the counselor called my mom, who took me on a very silent ride to the emergency psychiatric ward. I was sitting in the waiting room with her when I realized I got my period and that it had soaked through the thin fabric of my jumper. I wore my mom’s jacket around my waist as I was interrogated by doctor after doctor, though why I had to talk to three different people about the same thing is a mystery to me. Eventually, I was released, and we went home, where my dad had taken the door off my bedroom.
Shortly thereafter I started seeing another therapist, a good one this time. She validated my feelings and gave me enough confidence to be honest with the people in my life. I also started writing about the lessons I learned each day, and how I endured all the awful parts of my existence until they weren’t so awful anymore (this became a book and the inspiration for my website). This helped me to gain even more confidence in myself and the dreams that I strive for.
Although I had healed the hateful parts of myself, I was still feeling somewhat suppressed. My smile was fixed in a crooked way, leaving me in tears many nights. After a year and a half of therapy, my mom finally let me go on medication (Zoloft gang, wya), and at last I felt leveled out. There have been changes in my medication since then–2020 was BRUTAL–and I have by no means escaped my depressive episodes. But I no longer want to die, not ever, which sucks because I was really looking forward to trying sky-diving.
Thanks for reading!