Entering my freshmen year of High School, I felt an overwhelming pressure to be skinny. What started as a small thought that crossed my brain - needing to lose some weight - turned into two years of anorexia and complete misery. The summer leading up to freshmen year is when it all began. I started working out for hours at a time. I slowly cut my calories down more and more every day, counting them religiously, never failing to forget even one chip. All day long, all I could think about was how overweight I was (even though I was only 120 pounds). I would look into the mirror and feed myself lies- If I wasn’t skinny, no one would like me. If I didn’t have the perfect body, no guy would ever find me attractive. If I was even slightly chubby, I was worthless. Naturally, my weight began to plummet. At the start of freshmen year, I was playing volleyball and basketball, both of which required intense daily workouts. On top of that, I was working out alone, sometimes running 6-8 miles at a time. Given this insane workout regiment, I should have been in-taking about 2,200-2,400 calories a day. I was eating no more than 700 calories every day. If I went even 20 calories over this limit, I would berate myself for hours, sometimes even resorting to self harm. Not only were these patterns consuming and destroying my physical and mental health, but they were also wreaking havoc on my social and family life. To avoid any situations with food, I entirely stopped hanging out with my friends outside of school. I spent all of my free time in solitude, becoming extremely lonely and depressed. Because I didn’t see my eating disorder as a mental health issue, I did not confide in anyone about my slow deterioration. However, my family realized what was happening and became worried sick. Every single day, I would have raging, yelling fights with my parents. They wanted me to eat more or go see a therapist and I screamed rejection at both ideas. It tore my family apart and created a constant tension, especially regarding the topic of food. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night. Over the course of two years, as I continued to whither into nothing, I consistently had to go to the doctor to get blood work done, for I was deficient in everything. Two years before, I was full of life, joy, and energy. Now, I didn’t even recognize myself. I was constantly lethargic, pessimistic, irritable, and depressed. But, I would tell myself, at least I was 5’5’’ and 90 pounds. It wasn’t until a day during my Sophomore year of high school, when I was laying on the floor doing my daily 20-minute ab workout, that I reached my breaking point. As I laid on the floor with a sports bra on, my mom walked in and immediately broke into sobs. My hip bones were protruding more than they ever had, out of what was left of my body. I vividly remember my mom saying through tears, “I am so afraid you are going to disappear into thin air”. She was afraid I was going to die. To starve myself to death. And, honestly, so was I. And all for what? To be stick thin? Suddenly, it all seemed so absurd. It seemed insane that I would sacrifice my friends, my family, my joy, my peace, my experiences, my entire life- all just to fit inside of those size 0 jeans. That day changed a lot for me. While the journey to recovery was a long, difficult one, it all began on that day when my mother had to fear for her daughter’s dwindling life. Every day after that, I got a little better. Slowly raising my caloric intake, I slowly let go of my fear of food. I gave my body some rest. And I watched my life transform. I learned that food can be used as fuel. That our bodies can do amazing things for us when we take care of them. I realized that it is so much more attractive to be fit, healthy, happy, and strong, than it is to be skinny, grumpy, weak, and depressed. Most importantly, I learned to love myself. Flash forward four years, and I am incredibly grateful for everything my eating disorder taught me. Since having anorexia, I developed an unbridled passion for nutrition and healthy living. I now take care of my body by listening to it, feeding it the nutrients it needs to thrive, doing workouts that make me feel good and energized, splurging on dark chocolate when I want to, and looking in the mirror with thoughts of love, appreciation, and grace. Through doing so, I have been able to focus more of my energy on being optimistic, hanging out with friends, and pursuing my dreams. I now have a zeal for promoting and helping others achieve self love and body confidence.
young, dumb, and in “love” It all started in 8th grade, a big Halloween party was coming up, but according to the hostess you ‘needed’ a date in order to go. Me being my 8th grade self thought this was absolutely the end of the world because I didn’t really have any boy friends at the time that I could go with. It wasn’t until a friend of mine helped me brainstorm and we came up with a boy that I’d met the year before in biology, we will call him Kevin. Long story short I texted Kevin and asked if he was going to the party and if he had a date, he said no. He went on to ask me if I was going to go and if I had a date, and I also said no. So the two of us decided we should go together as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Long story short the party never ended up happening but Kevin and I began getting to know eachother over text more and more. After a month or two Kevin and I started dating... however there was a lot of pressure surrounding our relationship, considering it was 8th grade and everyone had already had their first kisses and first real ‘relationships’. After a few weeks we had our first kiss under a tree at a football game which I thought was pretty crazy considering we hadn’t known eachother very long but of course I kept my cool and went with it because I wanted to be cool. Moving forward... Kevin and I had been dating for all of 8th grade and had become absolutely obsessed with eachother. Not knowing any different this obsession is what I thought love was. We would text eachother non stop all day everyday and we hung out a lot too. Kevin and I started to experiment with other things such as making out and touching around the pants. Still being in 8th grade I knew in my mind I wasn’t ready for this. I knew I didn’t want to start doing stuff like this but I didn’t know how to say no. I didn’t want to say no. I had a fear that if I said no Kevin would lose interest in me, or that Kevin wouldn’t ‘love me’ the same. I wish I wouldn’t have been like this. I wish I could have been stronger. Kevin and I started getting into a routine of sorts and preforming sexual acts on Kevin became a normal occurrence in our relationship. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I did it because I wanted Kevin to love me. Being a love obsessed 14 year old I wanted to do anything to make Kevin happy. I began battling with myself in my head saying “ why are you doing this ? You don’t even like doing this ?” But I couldn’t say no to him. Kevin and I’s relationship began to take a turn... We started having arguments over silly and meaningless things however, they would turn into abusive fights. Kevin would tell me all the things I would be doing wrong and make me feel like I wasn’t doing anything right. This really got into my head and this is one of the reasons that I felt I needed to do what Kevin told me to because I didn’t want him to break up with me and I just wanted to do something right. Our arguments began to occur more and more often and each one broke me down more and more inside causing me to be extremely self conscious. I didn’t realize what a toxic relationship this was turning into. This was my first ever real boyfriend and so I thought this is just what a relationship was like. I was so wrong. Kevin and I had been together for about a year at this point and he started wanting more from me and was becoming more and more curious. One afternoon Kevin and I were watching a movie downstairs on my couch when we started kissing. The kissing lead to touching... but then Kevin wanted to try something new. He wanted me to lower my shorts because he wanted to see. I wasn’t comfortable with this but Kevin insisted I do it and begged saying ‘please baby, it’s okay. Don’t you love me?’ Kevin was relentless and I didn’t know what to do. He began tugging at my shorts and I couldn’t get him to stop. I gave in. I let go. I couldn’t take the pressure and he wouldn’t stop. Kevin got his way and I began to cry. Immediately, Kevin stopped and realized what he had done. His mom was on her way to get him anyways and he apologized profusely but the internal damage was done. Kevin promised he would never do this to me again and I believed him, and forgave him... this was not an okay behavior and it should have been a red flag... I wish I wasn’t so blind. Our relationship went on, we had our good and bad days and one night Kevin’s parents had been out of town and were coming home that night at 3am. Kevin lived in a large house and didn’t want to be there alone so my parents offered to let him stay over until his parents could come get him on the way home from the airport. This was so cool for us because he got to stay over at my house super late ! We watched movies all night until I fell asleep on the couch. Kevin kept waking me up over and over and I didn’t understand why, I was half asleep and he wouldn’t stop nudging me and telling me to get up. I was so tired and I just wanted to sleep. Kevin finally woke me up fully and I sat up and he grabbed me and began kissing me. Kevin looked at me and said please baby? And unbuttoned his pants and looked down. Kevin had woken me up numerous times to get me to preform a sexual act on him. He wouldn’t let me go back to sleep because he wanted me. I said “no I’m tired” and he made me feel so guilty for not giving in this time. This was one of the worst nights of my life because I felt like this whole time I was just being used. I felt so stupid and so sick... Kevin and I continued to fight and our relationship became too toxic to handle. Kevin ended up breaking up with me and I couldn’t handle myself. I was overcome with sadness and felt I was worth nothing without him. 3 years later I can say that I have recovered fully from this toxic part of my life and I have learned to remove toxic people from my life immediately. I feel so much happier, healthier and more confident. I have had plenty of time to reflect on this part of my life and understand that what Kevin was doing to me was not okay and should never be tolerated. I also learned what an emotionally abusive relationship looks like. Never let someone tell you that you are less than amazing, and your body is a temple, don’t let stupid boys in. Hope this helps and educates someone out there. Thanks for reading.
On september 22 this year i attended a women entrepreneurs conference in the neighboring town.This skinny really short 5 ft 3’ gray-haired masculine woman in her late 50s approached me and introduced herself. She said that she was a local bookstore owner. I was wearing my pink satin short sleeve bow blouse, my black satin pencil skirt and my pink 6 inch high heels shoes.Then she said that she likes to caress satin fabric and that silk and satin is so smooth to the touch when rubbing.Then she started rubbing my back with her right hand while talking to me about the conference.Then i sat on the chair the conference started and she sat on the chair behind me and began rubbing my back. I felt awkward. She then began furthering her reach and casually brushed across my rib cage/chest. I thought it was an accident, then she did it again and left her hand there and leaned in to whisper something about the conference. She kept rubbing my back then leaned in and stopped at the same spot and said something else. And that happened a few times. She began fully brushing the sides of my breasts. While she was standing talking her hands were resting on my shoulders. Her hands were practically constantly on me during the conference.The conference ended and while i was talking to two other women she walked up to me and said ”uuuu i love your blouse”and she started rubbing my back with her left hand and with her right hand rubbing my whole front side concentrating on my breasts. She was explaining to the other women that she just can’t resist touching and stroking satin fabric.They were totally weirded out. Then she said to me “You are so tall and big and soft”I was literally frozen. I just stood there not saying a word.Later while i was talking to one panelist she was behind me rubbing and caressing my backside with her right hand. Later in the hallway she hugged me from behind placing her hands on my breasts and cupped my breasts, squeezing gently for like 5 minutes. While i was walking to my car she was walking behind me with her hands on my backside talking to me about the conference.She was resting her hands on my butt. She had her arm around me from behind and was just cupping one of my breasts. I tried to walk fast but i was on 6 inch high heels.I was just standing and sitting there letting it happen. i was like frozen to the ground and paralyzed. Suddenly, i was unable to speak coherently. I was going “ummmmm” ” errrrrrrrrr for ages and ages. That happened to me three months ago but i am still so embarrassed by the whole thing. I’m embarrassed that this weird stranger woman was touching me and groping me so intimately in front of more than 50 other women and I did nothing about it. I am physically stronger than her. I am 5 ft 10 tall well built well endowed and curvy. She was 5 ft 3 tall and skinny. I was on 6 inch high heels she was in sneakers.I am a 41-year-old woman what is wrong with me? I am a weak spineless person. Why would I scream my head off if a man did it but I can’t verbalize a succinct “NO” to this woman.I didn’t say anything or tell her to stop. I couldn’t talk normal.I couldn’t get words out of my mouth.I was totally paralyzed while she was touching me and groping me. Mouth was open but no words came out of it. I am so confused about what happened to me! Whether or not it was my fault or not!I feel so ashamed.I feel so foolish and used by a total stranger woman. Other women at the conference were weirded out but they ignored that and said/did nothing as if nothing was happening. I think that the women were in shock themselves, maybe they thought we knew each other? Unfortunately some people don’t like to get involved if they feel uncomfortable or threatened or not sure what is going on.I am physically stronger than this woman, but i was totally paralyzed while she was touching me, rubbing me, and groping me.It was like i went into ‘freeze’ mode when she started touching me.I just was in shock. What happened I feel has traumatized me so much. Please tell me I am overreacting? I was totally paralyzed and numb while she was touching me and groping me. I was just sitting and standing there kind of awkwardly. I was like frozen, detached and numb while she was touching me and rubbing me. Afterwards when i got home I started breathing hard, my legs got weak, and my heart started to race really fast. I have never felt such shame or degradation like this in my life. I am so consumed with guilt. I didn’t tell my husband about this. I was to ashamed. Also I can’t talk to my husband about this because he is extremely jealous and possessive. He is going to blame me.
When I started high school at the age of 11 I made friends with some very controlling people. It was all going well until year 8 when they became very controlling and by the end of year 9 I was beginning to get ignored. This made me feel very isolated and alone and so when I got home I would just stay in my room and listen to little mix as I didn’t want my family to ask me how school was going. I started to feel suicidal and depressed I started self harming as a way to cope as I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to. When my parents found out they began to help. I was given counseling and I was separated from them. I made new friends and they helped me to move on and recover. I wish that I’d have known that there would be an end to the way I felt if I only asked. I think I would tell someone that they can do it and to always talk to someone when you are feeling down or going back to old thoughts if not a friend then a family member or someone you trust maybe. Also remember that there is always hope on the other side xx
Living with Asperger's is not an easy feat. It never is. imagine yourself in a room full of people. All of those people are laughing and mingling. Meanwhile, you aren’t. You’re sitting there in the corner all alone, watching everyone make nice with each other. Nobody doesn’t even acknowledge that you’re there. You just sit there, crushed from the inside. You have trouble expressing yourself because you don’t know how to. Your fear of being rejected eats you up. Your fear or feeling inadequate to others eats you up. As you’re living with this disorder, those whom you’re around can’t understand your pain. You’re constantly feeling glum and angry. You feel as if this condition drags you into an abyss, an abyss that leads you to a point of no return. I have this feeling. Growing up, I could never fit in with others. As a kid, I couldn’t look an adult in the eye. I never had the capacity to. There was just something about looking at another person that made me feel very uncomfortable. In social situations, my heart would pound very fast. I would tend to get nervous. I would always be the one that got left out because I couldn’t relate to the other children. Being bullied didn’t help curb my condition, it only worsened it. Every day, I would walk around and get laughed at. I would be humiliated every day. I would be made fun of because of the way I talked, walked, and looked. Imagine trying to answer a question in class and the kids would mock you. Every word you would say, they’d make this expression, trying to take the words from out of your mouth. As I was around my family, they couldn’t relate to my condition either. I constantly sent them cries for help and they just rejected me. Nobody listened. This only made me feel even more depressed. The bullying in school got so bad that I nearly tried to kill myself at the age of eleven. I was going to leap from out of my bedroom window, but my mom stopped me in the process. I would use writing as my means to communicate. I loved to write. Whenever I was in class, I would be the first person to get up and share what I’ve written with the class. I impressed my teachers with my impeccable writing abilities. My creativity was amplified. There was nothing limiting it. But, that didn’t mean my issues with my low self-esteem and my inability to become proactive in social situations waned. The kids would call me all sorts of demeaning names, such as retarded, stupid, and many more. I lost my father when I was just a year old, and his loss alone has had a grave impact on how I grew up. As a black man, growing up without a father—that’s not easy. My father was a very outgoing guy. Everyone loved him. You would never be able to tell if he was sad. He was so resilient. Everyone tells me I look like him so much, but I’m his complete opposite. I’m not as outgoing as he was. I’m reclusive and shy. I don’t open up too much. These issues with bullying and my bout with Asperger’s did not cease. At the age of fourteen, I was booked into a mental hospital. They had me on medications for a while. I ceased taking them in 2013. None of that helped. Once I got to high school, I began to give up hope. I felt like there was no haven for a guy like me. I carried all this baggage. I bared all these wounds. Nobody could understand what I had to go through. But, I didn’t stop writing. I let my talent weather the storm. I let the arts influence me. Writing was my only escape. It was the only place I could go and not be judged or harassed. Little did I know—this escape pushed me to write my first book at the age of fifteen. On October 26th 2014, I published The Ballad of Sidney Hill. That book marked my coming of age and how much I’ve matured. That was living proof that I wasn’t going to let a mental disorder define me. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to function once I got to high school. All these specialists who remained doubtful of my growth, because of my condition—I proved them wrong. Fast forward to now, I have written forty books. I am now attending Berkeley College in Newark, New Jersey. I have a message for you all. Never let your circumstances define who you are. You can be anything!
In seventh grade, I had my first crush. I started to develop feelings for a boy (we'll call him Phil), but it was just my hormones. I wish that I’d spent more time figuring out my sexuality before having my first relationship. It all started on valentine's day when I decided to confess my feelings for him. He accepted my feelings, and we decided to be together. The relationship lasted for about two weeks, but it felt like months. He would show aggression if I didn’t text him 24/7. This caused a lot of anxiety, because I had no Idea what he would do if I didn’t talk to him. He started sending me really strange texts. He would say things like “tell me all about your beautiful body ;)” or “I can see us being together for several years. I look forward to when we’re 17” (Seventeen years old is the age of consent in Texas.) In school he would grab my hand to hold it. He would just lean on me at times. It made me really uncomfortable. It was obvious that sex was the only thing on his mind but I didn't leave because I was intimidated. One day at lunch he sat next to me. He sat next to me everyday, but then, he started running his hands down my body and squeezed my thigh. He really wanted to get sexual with me, when I wasn't ready, and under-aged. I cut him off from that point forward, and he did not like that at all. His messages went from “baby what’s wrong” to “Are you enjoying your break from me?” The stress was too much and eventually I had my first panic attack. My ex-friend (we'll call her Brick) punched Phil while walking down the hallway, and I took the blame for it. While this ended my relationship with Phil, my relationship with Brick was just beginning. About of month later, I started experiencing sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is when you wake up, but your body is still paralyzed, and it can occur when you have high amounts of anxiety. I would see shadowy demonic figures and they were extremely realistic every night, until I was medicated for it. Anyway, at the end of the school year, Brick gave me an invitation to her birthday party, and to another friend. I wish I hadn't gone. I went to her party on August 9, 2014. It started out really cheerful, and innocent. We started off by watching videos on youtube, then went to a rollerskating rink. I had the best time.I remember going around in circles and feeling so free on the rink. We took pictures on my cellphone, played in the mini arcade, then headed back to her house. We watched netflix, were fed dinner, then her parents went to bed. We sat and talked in the kitchen until midnight, when things spiraled out of control. Brick started acting like a different person, as if she had been possessed. She started talking up a hypothetical situation. “What if a man were to break in, and it was only us? How would we defend ourselves?” she spoke. We thought she was joking, so we gave some silly responses. Hers was: “I would stab him...with a knife.” Our laughter was cut off when she walked to the utensil drawer. “Like this one,” She said as she pulled out a long knife. “This one would do very nicely.” We fell silent. “As for you two...(Other friend)...I could imagine that he would kill you very easily, you’d be found dead.” she stated as she pointed the knife at her. She then turned to me. “You would be found dead as well...(My name)...the girl who was raped.” That was the worst thing anyone has said to me. Brick turned off the lights, then ordered us to walk to the living room. With her being armed, we did so without question. We stood in the middle of the room I gripped onto my friend, we huddled in terror. Brick walked around the house for what felt like forever, I thought I was going to die. She ordered us to sit on the couch, turned the TV on and pulled up netflix again. “The first one to fall asleep will have their face drawn on!” Just like that-she was back to her normal self. She acted like nothing was wrong, as if nothing happened. That was the first night of my life I didn’t sleep, because I knew she'd do worse than draw a sharpie mustache on my face. I wanted to text my parents to take me home, but my phone was out of reach. Brick laid across my lap to make sure I didn’t go anywhere. My dad finally came to pick me up at 10:00 am. I didn’t speak of what had happened that night. I was in such a state of shock that I couldn’t speak .I stayed awake until about 3:00 pm, then I passed out. I wanted to report it, but I didn't want Brick to get arrested, and I didn't even know if I could report someone for simply carrying a knife, and a kid at that. The rest of the school year, Brick was not the friend I thought I knew. Brick kept the experience with Phil in mind. For example, if I didn't do what she wanted, she would bring it up and say that she'd do the same to me if I didn't comply. She carried out those threats. She did this until I had another panic attack. First I tried avoiding her. This made her very upset and she would say things like "If you want to hurt me so bad, then why don't you just hit me?" and "If you don't start talking to me right now, I will hurt/kill myself. Do you want me to do that?" I knew that I couldn't handle the weight of this situation much longer, so I decided to go to the counselor. I finally told someone what I had been through, and there's no rush of relief like that anywhere else. My counselor sent me back to class, then brought in Brick to talk. Brick did not confirm or deny any of the accusations. However, she was asked to write an apology letter. In the letter, she confessed to what she had done, and a restraining order was placed on her for the rest of the year. Fortunately, Brick has moved away, but the pain is still here. I am now medicated, received therapy, and have special education for my mental illness. I get straight A's, earned my learner's permit for driving, got a job, and have a new group of friends who love and support me with all that I've been through. I'm still trying to find ways to cope that don't include self harm, and haven't had any suicidal thoughts for 3 months. I'm still learning how to process my emotions, but I have to keep reminding myself: Brick did not break me. I didn't give in to her. I broke away and I do not need her to be happy. Abuse is never your fault, and there is always a way out.
I’m not supposed to be anxious. I’m a straight A student, an elite athlete, and a happy kid. To me, anxiety was for people with hard home lives or depression. I never dreamed that this could happen to me. Until it did.
My anxiety began on a plane ride to San Francisco for a family vacation. My chest felt tight, and my breathing quickened. I remember leaning to my dad and telling him I couldn’t breathe. I was 12 years old. Since that day, I have suffered upwards of 200 panic attacks.
My panic attacks may have been caused by different things, but they were almost always the same. My breathing would get quick, my chest would heave in and out, and I could feel my pulse racing in my head. I would scream that I couldn’t breathe and often run around my house like a chicken with its head cut off. My body would tremble and shake as I calmed back down. My dad would get angry, telling me to pull myself together, but he was scared and didn’t understand. My mom would hold me and tell me everything would be okay, because she knew exactly what I was experiencing. My panic attacks were, for lack of a better term, “textbook”.
To make matters worse, I began to feel a huge lump in my throat when eating. I began obsessing over my health, inventing new and worse cancers and diseases that I could have. After experiencing that for a couple months, I finally went to the doctor. Turns out, I have a vocal chord dysfunction. This causes breathing to quicken and for eating to be difficult, which is not the best situation for any anxious person, especially a hypochondriac like myself. I began to obsess over my throat and my breathing. I would constantly pull my shirt collar away from my neck because I felt choked. I couldn’t eat, which was almost debilitating due to my athletic lifestyle. In the months after my diagnosis, I lost close to 15 pounds. My eating was so bad, that it took me two hours to eat a single sausage patty. I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers like sand.
It took some tough love from my parents to realize that something had to change. My father threatened to pull me out of basketball because my body couldn’t handle the constant blowing and going of elite sports anymore. I caught my mother crying to my father that she didn’t want me to suffer anymore and that she felt helpless. So, like the student I am, I picked up a book.
I began researching anxiety and OCD and all sorts of mental illnesses. I learned about the cortex and the amygdala and how they played a part in my anxiety. I started developing coping mechanisms and breathing exercises. I figured that as long as I could understand that anxiety wasn’t just me being crazy, I would be okay. I also researched medicines and relaxation techniques and ways to help alleviate my panic. I started seeing a speech pathologist for my vocal chord dysfunction and finally, I found a psychiatrist who spoke to me about my issues and gave me medicine to help.
Now, I am nearly a month on medication, and feeling better than I have in 4 years. I haven’t panicked in weeks, and my days are no longer spent constantly worrying about my health. I’ve started enjoying food again, and am actually appreciating the little victories in life. I have gained 10 pounds, and am continuing to gain muscle for basketball that I didn’t think was possible.
That’s not to say that my story is over. I still have trouble eating sometimes, and I still work through anxiety every day, but I want people my age to know that it does get better. I want to tell people who are suffering like me that anxiety does not define you, but how you handle it does. I want to teach others about the neuroscience and psychology behind their illnesses, to offer them a new perspective. But most of all, if I can prevent just one person from going through what I have, I will feel like my experience was worth it.
I'm sure my mom and dad had been having problems before I noticed but the time I remember everything starting was Halloween of 2008. I was in the 4th grade and my mom picked me up early so we could decorate the house. When we got home, my mom was really upset and my dad was home early from work. When I asked them what was wrong, my dad told me he had lost his job. Being so young I didn't realize what his meant for us. My mom had been a stay at home mom since I was born so now that I'm older I realize this moment meant we had no money. At the time the stock market was down so it was really hard for my dad to find a new job. Because of his frustration and anger he began to drink. As time went on he became an alcoholic and this is where things started to get bad. My parents started to fight and to keep it away from me and my brother they would only fight at night. Their screaming and yelling woke me up almost every time and I would sit at the edge of my bed right by my door and just listen. My dad would be in the kitchen breaking glasses demanding my mom to give him her purse, keys and phone. I remember she would hide it in the oven so he wouldn't find it. I never really understood what they were fighting about, I just knew it was marital problems between them. One night I got so scared that my dad was going to hurt my mom I ran out of my room crying begging them to stop fighting. When they realized I had been watching they went to be and ended it for the night. That didn't last long. The same cycle started happening over and over. As my mom grew tired of being screamed at she started taking trips to her hometown of Corpus Christi to get away. This left me and my brother with my dad. My mom leaving brought up a new feeling of abandonment. She was the one that made us feel safe and she just left us behind.. this made my dad even more angry and gave them a whole new reason to fight. My parent began to live in separate bedrooms but still that didn't help the fighting. On my 10th birthday I had a group of friends over to celebrate with me. At first only my mom was home because my dad was out at the bar. Eventually he came home drunk and automatically began fighting with my mom in front of all my friends. My dad took my moms phone and broke it. One of my friends phones had disappeared and my mom had later told me she had taken it because she needed something to call the police with if she needed it. They took their fighting to their bedroom but you could still hear them screaming. I spent most of that time crying in my friends lap. Suddenly we heard a loud hit and I ran into their bedroom. When I walked in I saw my dad and mom sitting on the floor and a piece of the bathroom door frame broken off. It turns out that my mom had locked herself in the bathroom to protect herself from my dad and my dad decided to punch the door in and ended up breaking it. I had finally had enough and screamed at them to stop and that they had already ruined my birthday. My dad went to his room and my friends and I went to the living room to watch a movie. It was about 11 and there was a knock at the door. It was the police. The pulled me outside and asked me a few questions about my parents fighting. Apparently my dad had sent a picture of his hand to my aunt accusing my mom of hitting my dad and breaking his hand. My aunt then proceeded to call the police on her. They said because it was so late and my mom was in charge of my friends that they had to ask my dad to leave. I was actually glad for one night I wouldn't have to be in the middle of them fighting. A few days later everything was fine we were all having a good time watching tv and then my dad snapped. He started arguing with my mom and eventually went into his room. I went in there to check on him and he was laying on his bed with a bat In his hand. I asked him why he had it and his reply was “Your mom has hired someone to kill me and I need this to protect myself” I ran out of the room and started crying in my mom's arms. A few minutes later my dad came out of the room with the bat in his hand and held it over my mom's head. My brother and I hid under her arms as my dad said “if you ever talk to me like that again I'll crush you skull in with this bat” and then walked away. One Saturday morning a few days after that, my dad got us up really early and told us we had to help him move out. We then helped my dad pack up his stuff and move it into his mom's house. This began the new journey of split custody. They decided that we would spend one week with each parent to try and make it easier on us. Although the fighting at night had stopped the going back and forth between houses really took a toll on both me and my brother. I began to get really angry at my parents and I started being a really mean person. My brother once asked me “why are you so mean all the time?” He was too young to understand the situation so he was too young to know why I was so angry. Soon after that my parents got a divorce and for the first time ever I had to move out of the house I had lived in since I was born. The new argument was who we would live with. The one memory I have is of both my parents crying asking me and my 7 year old brother which parent we wanted to live with more. We didn't understand why we had to chose and the choice shouldn't have been put on us. The next few years things calmed down a bit but my parents decided to get remarried because they didn't want us to grow up in a “broken home.” This was the worst decision they could of made. Not too long after they got remarried the fighting started again. And it was like nothing had ever changed. I was in the middle of their arguments passing messages back and forth from one another's bedrooms because they were too childish and stubborn to talk to each other. The drinking was still going so my dad was even more abusive to my mom. She was living in our study and my mom had a hunting knife in her stuff to protect herself. My dad found it one night and as I stood in the doorway of my room I watched him hold it up to her throats and say “if I wanted to kill you I could” that night I had completely lost all faith I had left in my dad. They had tried marital counseling and every other possibility but nothing helped. Not to long after my parents got a divorce for the second and final time. Again the custody battles started up. I remember one night my dad had agreed to let us stay with our mom but later decided he wanted us. My dad came over to our house and was banging on the door demanding my mom to give us to him. Our neighbors ended up calling the police and the officer made my dad go home and let us stay with our mom cause it was 11:30 on a school night. Soon after I went into a really deep state of depression and I developed severe anxiety. I lost a lot of weight and spent most of my night in bed alone crying and I began to self harm. My parent never realized how much I knew about their fighting so they didn't realize why I was so depressed and why I would have sudden breakdowns and still to this day don't know about my scars. We still to this day live out of bags going back and forth between houses and I personally never feel at home anywhere. I was in middle school at the time so things were extra hard on me. It wasn't until 8th grade when I became close to one of my teachers that things started to change for me. She became a personal counselor to me but mostly so was a grown up I could look up to. I came to her when I was feeling down and she was always there to support me. With her support and my determination to have a better future for myself and eventually for my kids I pulled myself out of my depression by surrounding myself with the things I loved like softball. Softball helped me take my mind off things while getting some anger out. Because of that support I had and because of softball I was able to overcome my depression and I vowed to myself that I would never let a man treat me like that and that I would have a better home for my children than I did. Although things are still not perfect with my parents and I don't really have a good relationship with them, all that truly matters to me is that I have changed my life for the better and that I've learned how to deal with those negative situations. I do still have some anxiety from the memories that are still there and I have developed a few insecurities and fears but now I know that I have people there to support me and that there is always a way to help myself get better. It may be hard but there is always a way to get better.
I was three months away from turning 14. I met a guy at my church. I thought he was cute, and he was nice to me. He was about 14 1/2 years old at this time which was good because it wasn't a huge age difference between the two of us. 4 nights after we met, he messaged me on my instagram saying "hey, so I'm sure you like me. And I have feelings for you too. We're gunna date :)" I never said yes or no. He assumed we were dating, and I liked that. I liked him. I still have a screenshot of that message to this day as a reminder of the night of my first relationship ever. Well, my first "real" relationship. Everything was normal as we dated. We went to see a couple movies,we hung out at the park, and talked on the phone all the time. It was an amazing experience until we were about 2 months in. We met at the park to walk around for a little bit and hang out. He wanted to walk back to his house because his mom was at work (he had no father)... apparently "no" isn't a word in his vocabulary. I told him I didn't want to because I didn't want to get in trouble by my dad for going to my boyfriends house without permission. The guy I was dating (I'm not going to say his real name. I'll substitute it for john) got very upset at me and started yelling. No, I don't remember what he said when he yelled, but When I said "I'm going home", he got so red in the face, pulled back his hand, and slapped me as hard as he could. It didn't hurt AS much because he wasn't that strong, but it stung real bad. That's all I can remember from that time of our relationship because it really scarred me. In the next few months was my birthday, I turned 14 years old. Not going into detail, but no one out of 17 invitations came to my birthday, and one of those invitations was to ~john~. It didn't bother me. I remember he said he didn't like parties. But maybe it was an excuse. A little while later while we dated, he asked if I could give him a blowjob while we hung out at his house. I told him I didn't feel like it. (Me and him have never gotten farther than kissing before this because I wasn't comfortable, so this was weird for him to ask me.) again, he was mad, but didn't say anything. Somehow he convinced my dad to let me spend the night at his house and his mom let me stay, too. His mom had gone out for the night to god knows where, and we were alone. That was the night I had smoked weed and drank for the first time, and I did them both at once. I guess his goal was to hurt me seeing as How That's what ended up going down. Apparently my alcohol poisoning meant nothing to him as he forced a blowjob and sex from me. Obviously looking back at it now, I feel stupid that I didn't see the signs that something was going on, but then again, I was drunk and high. My dad says that is when I 'lost my virginity', and I'm sorry to whoever I offend, but RAPE IS NOT SEX! IF YOURE A 14 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO SAID NO TO ANY SEXUAL ACTIONS, YET THEY WERE FORCED- THAT IS RAPE! Man. I wanted to leave him so bad, but when I brought it up I was either threatened or abused. I hated it. We dated for 2 1/2 years. I'm now 4 months from turning 16 years old. I was raped 3 times, Abused hundreds of times, cheated on about 5 or 6 times, and treated like a piece of shit. Thanks to ~john~ My real thank you, however, goes out to my current boyfriend. We met on Snapchat, and we go to the same school. He got me out of such a bad situation and he takes such good care of me like nobody knows. Being with him made me realize that guys like ~john~ are the scum of the earth and the lowest people you can date. I love my boyfriend so much, and I don't see my future without him. PSA to every girl- I can promise there is a man waiting to treat you like the princess you are, it just takes time. It took me 15 1/2 years, but I can finally say it was worth the wait. ♥️
My life has been a series of twists and turns, and as a whole has been affected by a lot of obstacles. I started to notice around elementary school that I got a lot more "nervous" for things than my peers, and school was always a bit more stressful. My parents divorced and my world didn't seem to stop, but things immediately began to spiral. I would panic about having to pack in between houses and worry that something would go wrong once I got there, but it wasn't until around middle school that I began noticing my lack of interest in things I'd once loved. I quit the swim team, which used to be my favorite part of every day. My grades plummeted and my motivation to get anything done was barely there. I was afraid to express any of this with the fear that my parents would think something was wrong with me, so I kept it under wraps for a while. But around 8th grade, I got involved in a bad crowd of some older guys I met. My best friend and I started drinking, smoking, and partying at such a young age. The affect of that was massive on the next couple of years, as I was diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety disorders my freshman year. I turned to alcohol and drugs to try and fix my problems, because my psychiatrist thought that my problems could've been female hormones, and not much was done. The real turning point in that year though, was thanksgiving break. I attended a small party with some people I considered my closest friends, and was slipped something by the guy I'd been talking to at the time, and sexually assaulted. I kept this a secret for months, and didn't let anyone see how much it affected me, but my PTSD still hasn't slowed. Around the end of the year, I made the decision to end it all, and ended up in the hospital. I spent some time at a safe place, working on my recovery, and knew my life needed to change. I've been sober since then, and have reached out for help when I know I need it. I knew I couldn't rush my healing, and I still can't. Things are still hard sometimes but my life has color again, and becoming sober was the best decision I ever made. Next year I'm planning to be homeschooled and work on myself and my wellbeing, but I know none of this is the end of my world, and I'm strong enough to come out the other end of the dark tunnel I seem to be in.
I've struggled with anxiety all my life. I didn't know until about a year ago that this feeling---feeling overwhelmed in social settings, drowning in school, and longing to just be alone---was unnatural. Life isn't supposed to be like this. And I'm still struggling. I've found ways to handle it publicly but I'm still coming to terms with it all. Being open about it with my parents and best friends have helped me so much. They understand what I mean when I say "I don't feel like going out tonight" while at the same time encouraging me to come out of my shell. To everyone out there battling anxiety and depression: don't be afraid to tell people. Whether it's the whole school or just one person, all you need is someone to discuss your struggles with. A fresh perspective helped me see life like it is, not how I'm used to seeing it. Drowning isn't part of life. Accepting that there is so much goodness to discover gave me hope and helps me see past my anxiety.
In February of 2015 I met a beautiful boy. He was sweet and charming and he knew exactly how to make me smile. After a few weeks we started daiting. After about 2 months of being exclusively together he started making comments like "hey baby maybe you should go to the gym" or "babe your weight is to much for me" and slowly but surely I started feeling self conscience and I depended on him for reassurance. I needed him to make me feel good about myself. Everytime we would get into an argument I would go in the bathroom and cut my arms and legs with a razor blade, so deep that the scars now make texture on my skin. Once we reached 6 months together I was completely dependant on him. Anytime he was at all upset I would be distressed and do anything to make it up to him. One incident in particular pushed me over the edge. My uncle had taken us to a baseball game and I had a beer. When we got home he grabbed my face on either side screamed at me and then shoved me away. I forgave him for that but I never forgot. 2 months later we got into another fight. That's when we decided that we weren't going to make it. That we needed to break up. I was so distraught over the break up I drank and I popped pills and I was cutting even worse. I attempted Suicide and was hospitalized twice in a week. I was committed to a psychiatric hospital. I stayed there for 6 days. After my treatments and 15 weeks of out patient therapy. I finally gained control of my own life. Ever since I have had relapses but I have been able to recover.
I was born on January 8 1980 in Readfield, Maine to J. and M., I was their first child and my sister was born in 1982, my parents never really got along very well and though they tried for my sister and I, they eventually separated in 1983 and their short marriage officially ended in 1985, I met my best friend, S., in Kindergarten and we were inseparable, I had trouble with shyness and making friends, but somehow S. and I clicked, we spent all our time playing together, or exploring as we called it, we explored our backyards and as we got older we explored the nearby forest, as my sister got older she became the third member of our exploration team, S. and I always wanted to be teachers, ever since out elementary school teacher took the extra time to encourage us and help us see learning as fun instead of boring, also joining us was our mascot Rocky, my pet raccoon who loved grapes and attention, so my sister, S., Rocky and myself were always active, or overactive really and would run around madly all day and seemed to have boundless energy, my life was almost unbelievably happy thinking back on it, I had more fun than I ever could have asked for, Me and my family always went to the state fair in Bangor every year without fail, so in 1990 when I was 10, we planned to head off however as Mom was unwell the first week we instead went on the last two days, we left out home in Readfield at around 6am on Saturday August 4 and arrived at the fair just before 9am, as always my sister and I were running around like mad having fun, I would say I was a very friendly child but also a very naive and trusting one, I always found it easier talking to adults rather than children and I always believed adults were good and honest people who would never harm me, so when I met “Frank”, no thats not his real name, I am using a different one for legal reasons, Frank saw me admiring some horses and started talking to me, Frank explained he was a veterinarian and specialised in horses, I was amazed and want to learn more about them, horses were my favorite animal, so when my Mom saw me talking to Frank, who appeared to be a respectful and professional looking adult, she thought nothing of it and even introduced herself and my sister to him, so I talked to Frank for an hour or so and eventually went back to out crazy adventures, the next day Sunday the 5th, I again met Frank who offered me what sounded like the chance of a lifetime, to join him on an adventure helping horses, all he needed was my address, I hesitated knowing Mom had told me never to give it to anyone but I so believed what he said that I relented and gave it to him, Frank asked our plans and I told him, he then gave me instructions on how to meet him, and I promised I would follow them and not tell my Mom, I know looking back on it that this is the most stupid thing a child could possibly do but at my age and with my lack of understanding the dangers of the world I thought it was exactly as he had told me, a chance to help horses and go on an adventure, so after we got home that night and everyone, including Mom had gone to bed I climbed out my window and waited for Frank, just as he had instructed me to, around midnight he showed up and we left on what I thought would be the journey of a lifetime, So my journey of a lifetime only ended up taking just across the border to Berlin, New Hampshire, by the time I started realising I was in trouble the situation had already gotten far outside of my ability to control or even understand, so when I ended up in Frank’s house, locked up in the cellar I had no idea what he wanted from me but I knew things were going to go badly for me, so after being left along for “ages” though ages to a 10 year old was really more like 45 minutes to an hour for anyone else, when he returned I begged him to let me go home, saying I was sorry for whatever I had done to make him mad and that I would never mention his name or anything about him, he found this funny and I almost felt safer for a second because he laughed which I thought was good, I had idea of the hours of sexual abuse and pain that would follow, most of it I ended up blocking from my memory, I do remember though after it was done I felt as though something inside of me had been torn away from me and stolen by him, when he returned with food, pancakes, I was too distraught to eat, I had no idea what was going on or why he was doing these things to me, I refused and he warned me I would be punished if I didn't but again I couldn't, so Frank got mad at me for disobeying him and punished me by assaulting me again, this time in a different and more painful way, after this was over I remember all I wanted was to die, and he left me along in the dark to bleed and suffer, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind, my Mom, Marissa, Rocky and Sara, all the things I knew at that moment I would never see again, When Frank returned hours later, again with food I did like I was told and ate, I wasn't hungry and actually felt sick to the point of almost throwing up but I couldn’t bare the thought of being punished again, I again begged to go home and Frank told me that this was my home now, he also told me he loved me but of course I didn’t believe him, for the next few days I managed to avoid punishment by doing as I was told, no matter how much I didn't want to or how much it hurt, I tried desperately thinking of ways to escape but none of them would have worked, except maybe in my mind, on my eleventh birthday on January 8 1991 I was given a present, or really I was myself a present for him, though somehow in his mind this was something I would enjoy, that day is nothing but an endless blur of pain and I would look back on it as the second worst day of my life, by the time my twelfth birthday came around I was finally allowed to wear clothes again, however Frank had started telling me over and over again that no one loved me and no one wanted me but him, that my family would never want or take me back after what I had done, the worst thing wasn’t the abuse or the fear, it was the loneliness and isolation I felt, sometime in 1992 after accidentally saying something about Frank’s mother, I ended up having my wrist fractured, of course he apologised for it but also said I had made him do it, he bought a brace from the pharmacy and “fixed” it but it never healed properly and ended up with nerve damage, Things continued like this, I won’t go into more specific detail because one; my mind has blocked a lot of it out, and two; almost every day was exactly the same, darkness, isolation and sexual abuse, by the time I was 14 I had created an incredibly vivid imaginary world for myself, a place where I was safe and happy, where no one would hurt me, sometime in 1994 I started feeling “strange”, I didn’t know why but I assumed I was getting sick, so you can imagine my; shock, terror, fear, any and all of those words fit, when I was informed I was going to be a mother, Frank on the other hand seemed ecstatic about the idea of being a father, as some time went by I started thinking maybe it would be good to have someone to love me and someone for me to love, I was 14 so this reasoning made sense to me, however a few months later Nicole “Nicky” died before she could be born, I don’t know if it actually would have been a girl or not but I imagined it was and gave her a name, she deserved that much at least, I felt it was my fault she died and when Frank found out that I had done, he got mad and attacked me but stopped short of strangling me, so he left me alone without food or water for a week, I reasoned I had been left to die, I laid in the same spot and I cried until I no more tears left, after a week when Frank finally returned I was almost dead, all I could say was “I’m sorry” though I don’t think I was saying it to him, I was saying it to Nicky, so Frank apologises and tells me its not my fault and he still loves me, he gave me water, and bathed me, then he took me to his room, it was so beautiful to have a bed and be clean and somewhere nice, Frank kept telling me he loved me over and over again, and reciting his rhetoric that no one in the world wanted me or loved me but him, finally on the third day I gave in and told him I loved him, I was so mentally broken and so desperate for someone to love me and take away my pain that I finally gave in and allowed myself to feel the same for him, he was the only person in my world and I needed someone, So after two weeks in his room, I was informed it was time to go, I feared going back into my bleak prison surrounded by darkness, but to my surprise I got my own room, which was actually nice, well compared to what I was used to anything would be nice, but it was light, and had colors and didn't smell, it was beautiful, so I had a lot better prison, and although the sexual abuse started again almost immediately I was so overjoyed to be somewhere so nice I almost didn’t care, I gradually got more freedom as time went by, I started to think I was in a normal loving (though highly abusive) relationship, I cooked and cleaned and did as I was told, when I was 17 I had got sick of my existence, I was always scared and in pain and I hated myself for loving a monster like Frank, so I decided to kill myself but I didn’t have the courage, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't do it, but this phase ended when I was allowed into the back garden for 5 minutes late one night, I looked at the stars and remembered my mother how she had held me and told me about the constellations and how I could reach any star if I tried hard enough, and I felt the grass under my feet and remembered my sister, that day before I was taken that night, had been the happiest of my life, me and my sister and Mom had a ball, I remembered the world existed around me, I remembered people loved me, and I remembered I was me, a person not a piece of property, though knowing this and doing something about it were two distinctly different things, I continued being submissive but kept thinking of how to escape, in August 1997 I was allowed to go to the store with Frank, a lady noticed I looked and behaved odd, being a teacher she could tell something was wrong but both Frank and I convinced her I was fine, that I had just been sick and was very shy, I wanted to say something but I thought it would put her at risk, the last thing I wanted was to have anyone else hurt because of me, on Friday October 31 1997 I finally found my courage, and my opportunity to escape, I got dressed, stole Frank’s wallet and snuck out, by this time I wasn’t locked in as he believed my submissiveness would keep me from leaving him, I made it outside and ran and ran, I had no idea what town or even what state I was in, I found a park and I sat down on a bench, I was terrified he would come after me but I was so exhausted I couldn't go any further, I waited until morning and wandered into town, I know looking back going to the police would have been the smart move, but I was so damaged it was the last thing I thought of I just wanted to go home, and out of surprise I happened upon a bus company which had a bus going to Augusta, Maine, 15 miles from my home in Readfield, so I waited all day for the bus to leave at 3:30pm, it was coming from Manchester, New Hampshire, I attracted the attention of a lady who worked there, I wouldn't tell her what was happening but she surmised I was escaping an abusive relationship, I got off the buss at Winthrop, Maine about 10 miles from my home, and I walked him, it took me three hours but I was so determined I could have walked for 3 days, I arrived home at around midnight on Saturday November 1 1997, 2,643 days after I had snuck out to meet Frank, I tried to get up the courage to knock on my door, but Frank’s rhetoric was going on and on in my mind, I feared my Mother would hate me and what I had become, but I wanted so desperately to see her and my sister one last time, so I knocked and my Mom didn’t quite recognise me at first until I said “Mom” and she realised it was me, Mom welcomed me home, and set aside my fears by saying she loved me, no matter what had happened, I saw my sister who did the same, I was finally home, the police were called and questioned me, though my communication skills were limited by my lack of access to outside stimuli and this should have been the time Frank was arrested and sent to jail forever, but though this kind of thing is sadly all too common nowadays, back then most people didn’t understand about how things like this happened, there were so many questions I couldn't answer; Why did I leave with a stranger willingly? Why didn't I run away before? Why didn't I call for help? Why didn't I speak up in the store that day? Why didn't I go to the police when I escaped? The answer is mental conditioning, and/or brainwashing but in 1997 in rural Maine no one believed this could ever happen, and no one believed I could have so many chances to escape and didn't, so my case went away, I was the girl who ran away, ended up in an abusive relationship and made up a crazy story to cover it up, I was partly devastated but also so happy to be home I didn’t care as much as I may have otherwise, The police made me see a psychologist, feeling I was mentally unstable, she told my mother I was so mentally damaged I would never be able to lead a normal life, this alone should have told the police I was telling the truth, but it didn't and they closed the case without action, so I went on with my life, what small scrap of if I could piece back together, I got my GED, I went to college and I got a job helping people, ironically had my story been believed and had Frank been prosecuted I would have never been able to do the job I wanted because people with severe mental trauma are not allowed to work for the federal government, so it worked out for the best, I am finding my way towards happiness and away from pain, Frank died in 2005 in his home in Vermont, having moved sometime after I escaped, he had ended up drinking himself to death, I was so happy to know that my life had been the only one he had stolen, and that no one else ever suffered what I did at his hands, I have a lot of problems, trust is the biggest one, I am always scared of being hurt again, but I am slowly working my way back to the person I used to be, the one who was stolen and locked away but is slowly reemerging, I will make it.
(part 2) none of the people i am friends with, never imagined me less then i am. what they saw, was an outgoing, loving, funny girl who always had a smile on her face. nobody imagined me depressed, anxious or frustrated. all they ever saw was (me); someone who could never be sad. well, i was. and sometimes i still am. i have suffered from depression, since 8th grade. maybe even from 6th grade. but, i never had anything to be sad about? i had two great parents, two good homes, people who loved me. i am blessed. i used to be sad, about nothing. but that's what depression is sometimes, people tell you, "you shouldn't be sad, you are so blessed!" and it makes you feel bad. but, you can't help it. it's not something you can control. i was depressed over the littlest things, then over the years i started to have reasons why i was depressed. school- i suck at school. my friends complain about having a b-, while i have a d+. friends- i never have gotten invited to anything, i spent my halloween at home on the couch waiting for somebody to text me and ask me where i was. relationships- i ask people to hangout all the time, because i'm scared that i will get rejected or cancelled on like i did in my past. i may seem desperate at times, because i feel lonely. over the years, my depression and anxiety has gotten worse. i would be anxious about the little things people never thought twice about. my pencil; i used to check my bag three times before switching classes just because it was my only one. my hair iron. i used to tell my mom that i'd unplug it, i still do! sometimes i even take pictures of it, just so when i'm worried i left it on that i have proof i didn't. my mind automatically assumes the worst case scenario, like you would think, "oh shoot. i left my iron on. oh well, it'll be fine." but i think, "oh my gosh i left my iron on, i'm going to burn down the house and fire trucks are going to have to go to my house and i will be responsible for my family owing thousands of dollars, all because i didn't unplug my iron." crazy right? my anxiety has consumed me, and my depression has too. my mind had come across suicidal thoughts and actions, and i thought i was all alone. nobody cared about me? nobody loved me? nobody wanted me? i felt like i was invisible to everyone. i thought it wasn't a big deal, that i should keep my problems to myself. but that only made it worse. i used to sit inside my 6th hour at lunch everyday, because i felt as if nobody wanted me at their lunch table. i was afraid of being called annoying or desperate. i had trained my mind to think the worst things about myself, it was all apart of my depression. the outside me may be happy 24/7, but that's not what i saw at all. i remember being so sad one day, and i walked into the bathroom, turned on the hand dryer and just sobbed on the bathroom floor, because i was lonely. but, you're not alone. i know it feels like you are the only one suffering sometimes, trust me. you're not. you will get through this, you can't let anxiety or depression consume you, because it can. but don't let it, things will be good soon. i promise.
Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Self Harm. What happened between "then" and now. It hurts. It hurts to have been born with depression. It hurts to grow up with the burden of an anxiety disorder. It hurts to have grown up in an emotionally and physically abusive household. It hurts to have been raised under the care of a parent suffering from severe mental illness. It hurts to think about having been molested at the age of 8 by a family friend. It hurts to remember being sexually assaulted in the 8th grade by someone I mistakenly gave my heart, and my trust. It hurts to remember “falling in love” for the first time, and then having my self worth shattered by that same love. It hurts to think about the 4 consecutive years that I underwent bullying so severe that I lost all of my self respect, my ability to think rationally, my dignity. It hurts to suffer from PTSD as a result of the many things I have been through. Not a day goes by without all of the above, at the very least, crossing my mind- if not choosing to fully occupy it. I used to attend Leander High School- I was a Pre-I.B. student. I had a GPA of 4.85. I was taking all A.P courses. I was hardworking and dedicated to my studies. And then I was crushed under the weight of my own soul. I have always suffered from depression, and an anxiety disorder. Dealing with the consequences of both is far from “new” to me. But while they can be manageable, extreme stress can amplify the “symptoms” of both. In my case, nearly all of my stress was a direct result of being so harshly bullied (receiving death threats, being told to kill myself, being made fun of, and at one point, stalked) that I considered ending my own life on several different occasions. What drove me to the breaking point wasn’t the bullying in itself, which had gone on for 4 years...but the fact that nobody, not even faculty members, was willing to do something about it. I had a mountain of evidence to suggest (and prove) who was responsible for sabotaging my social life. This included screenshots of death threats from the girl herself, admissions from friends of the bully that said she had ASKED THEM TO DO THINGS TO ME, and screenshots of messages she had sent to other people, describing in detail, what she had done or planned to do to me- and yet, my own assistant principal couldn’t bring himself to deal out actual consequences when my bully was caught - only empty threats of juvenile detention, which obviously never accomplished anything, because the girl never stopped harassing me. They were all too afraid to “ruin” this girl’s life by punishing her for her actions, many of which were tantamount to felonies. I lost hope once I realized that I didn’t have a voice in combatting the harassment. My motivation by sophomore year died completely. The stress caused me to lose weight, and energy- I was always weak, and I always had a burning feeling in the pit of my stomach. My eating habits changed- sometimes I wouldn’t eat for days, and other days, I would binge due to severe stress. I stopped caring about my hygiene- it was as if I didn’t even have enough energy to take a shower, or find clean clothing. I couldn’t bring myself to do my schoolwork. I had so many ambitions I wanted to fulfill, including my involvement in the I.B. program, and the school newspaper- and I failed in nearly every way, as I barely participated. Every day after school when I got home, I went straight to bed- because sleeping was a way to escape the painful memories and experiences bouncing around in my head. By the last 3 months of the school year, all of my grades had dropped to averages of 60’s and 70’s. I passed many of my classes by the grace of some of my teachers, who recognized to an extent that something was wrong. But the circumstances had “cracked” me. I crumbled under the judgement of peers and strangers alike, and the pain and betrayal I felt. And in the end, I was pulled out of the school permanently. No going on to the I.B. program- I lost the opportunity to participate in classes I was genuinely excited for, and I missed out on fantastic teachers I had developed friendships with. I had also lost contact with friends I loved dearly for their support and kindness. So, I was moved to another school in the district. And I decided that a “true” fresh start would be perfect for me- and it was. My best friend, disgusted with what she watched me go through at Leander, switched to my new school to be with me. I started off my Junior year with all AP courses, and was able to get into senior level advanced courses early, as well. I joined a program meant to compete with the I.B. program. I discovered that many of my new teachers had connections to my favorite teachers from LHS, and found that they were also wonderful people. My best friend and I have been able to develop a comfortable, healthy social group, made up of intelligent and kind people- and since the end of sophomore year, I haven’t had to deal with harassment of any kind. But despite all of this… something lingered. My memories. My mental and emotional wounds never actually healed. The source of the problem was gone, but there was never a true resolution to the conflict I endured. Little did I know that I was suffering from PTSD as a result of what I had gone through. My crystal clear memory of every conflict related to the bullying, of every word spoken, every lie told, every person manipulated, every situation twisted haunted me. I would have dreams repeating especially horrific incidents over and over again… or I would be in the middle of math class, when suddenly, thoughts of the bully crossed my mind. Once, I saw her in a grocery store- and the pain flooded back to me after almost a week of feeling “okay”. I wanted to scream at her, hit her, kick her, ask her why: and at the same time, I wanted to run and hide, curl up into a ball, and pretend I didn’t even exist. Who could have guessed that my suffering would lead to the development of a chronic, pain based illness I would have for the rest of my life. My Junior year of high school started off well… Until I began having stomach cramps at random times during the day. At first, they were manageable...but they evolved into stabbing pains that would leave me hunched over in agony, unable to move. And these stabbing pains eventually became constant- no breaks between episodes. I was always in pain...And then I started throwing up- daily. I began missing school; in total, nearly 3 months of it, spread across the entirety of the first semester. But... It wasn’t until I threw up blood that I found true cause for concern- and after a “wonderful” array of tests and laparoscopies, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”- it doesn’t sound like a big deal. It’s a “diagnosis of exclusion”- meaning that it’s diagnosed only when no other tests can determine a more obvious problem. But the name of the illness hardly suits it, as it mimics the symptoms of major gastrointestinal illnesses like Crone’s disease- and as such, it is, in itself, a major illness. I.B.S. is incurable. Little about it is understood, except for one thing- that it correlates strongly with stress. I was stressed to the point of developing a chronic condition that has left me in physical agony for the past 7 months. The implications for my grades are obvious- although luckily, my school has been very understanding, and my teachers have worked diligently to ensure that I finish all of the schoolwork I have missed. And I am in the same situation now, as I write this. So you might wonder, where is the silver lining to this story? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. I’m as lost as you probably are, reading this. So why write at all? Because I know there are others who can relate to my story, in one way or another. Because I want people who have been through the same pain I have to know that while it doesn’t necessarily end, you can still find a way to get through it. I could have given up 4 years ago and taken my life then, when the bullying began. I could have given up 3 years ago, when I was raped. I could have given up 2 years ago, when I was alienated by peers and ignored by those responsible for protecting students. I could have given up a year ago, when my grades faltered, and my motivation and ambition faltered. But I didn’t. I don’t quite know why, myself- I don’t know where the energy comes from, because I don’t feel like I have any left. And yet, My will to live burns under the cloak of depression, PTSD, anxiety, and pain. I’m still doing well academically. I’m maintaining healthy relationships. I’m forcing myself, each and every day, to pause in the middle of a “negative” thought-train. I recognize that I’m lucky enough to have a select few people in my life that I genuinely love, who love me back enough to support me despite the burdens they already carry. And so, I’m still trying. For my loved ones, but most importantly, for myself as well. Know This: “You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.”
In February of 2015 I met a beautiful boy. He was sweet and charming and he knew exactly how to make me smile. After a few weeks we started dating. After about 2 months of being exclusively together he started making comments like "hey baby maybe you should go to the gym" or "babe your weight is too much for me" and slowly but surely I started feeling self conscience and I depended on him for reassurance. I needed him to make me feel good about myself. Everytime we would get into an argument I would go in the bathroom and cut my arms and legs with a razor blade, so deep that the scars now make texture on my skin. Once we reached 6 months together I was completely dependent on him. Anytime he was at all upset I would be distressed and do anything to make it up to him. One incident in particular pushed me over the edge. My uncle had taken us to a baseball game and I had a beer. When we got home he grabbed my face on either side screamed at me and then shoved me away. I forgave him for that but I never forgot. 2 months later we got into another fight. That's when we decided that we weren't going to make it. That we needed to break up. I was so distraught over the break up I drank and I popped pills and I was cutting even worse. I attempted Suicide and was hospitalized twice in a week. I was committed to a psychiatric hospital. I stayed there for 6 days. After my treatments and 15 weeks of out patient therapy. I finally gained control of my own life. Ever since I have had relapses but I have been able to recover.
Most of my life, I was a good student. I was a perfect daughter, perfect friend, I felt my life was perfect, and I didn't need to answer to or justify myself to anyone. I had friends, and I took everything at face value. I was even on the verge of "popular" - I was captain of the pom squad, I was president of student counsel. I was on the National Junior Honor's Society. I got straight A's. Everything was going the right direction. Then, when I was 14 (8th grade for me), I started having problems in school; I had a boyfriend who pressured me into things I wasn't completely comfortable with; drinking, smoking, drugs, promiscuity. I started feeling intense anger, intense jealousy, and overwhelming sadness that I just couldn't shake. My "friends" began to pull away. I started to get teased. I'd put on a little weight after I'd quit the pom squad (due to poor coaching and false accusations); suddenly I wasn't part of the "in" crowd anymore. I felt alone, I felt lost. I sought refuge in my boyfriend, whom my parents did not like. I don't remember the exact moment things came to a head, but my parents felt I needed counseling. But it wasn't so much counseling as it was being told what I'd done wrong. My parents were always in the room, I was never alone, never free to fully express myself. I grew up in a small town, where everyone knew my family. Everyone knew my parents, and image was everything. I didn't conform to that image, and I was not allowed to engage in anything that would tarnish that image any further than I'd already had. We kept a lot of secrets; one of which was my "counseling". When I told a friend about it on the phone, I got grounded. My parents didn't trust me, and looking back they were right not to. I lied, I snuck out, I did things that I didn't really want to do in the hope I'd find a crowd. I reached a point where I hated my mother; we fought constantly. My siblings were on her side; they'd tell on me every chance they could. I felt alone, lost, unloved, unwanted. Fast forward to high school. While I was no longer with that boyfriend (specifically instructed to not have contact with him, per my parents), those feelings of self doubt, alienation, sadness, darkness, didn't go away. They increased. I struggled to make friends. I struggled harder to keep them; often doing things I didn't want to do just to keep friends that would have turned on me in a heartbeat. My boyfriend in high school wasn't much better than the previous. He was abusive, he was codependent. He didn't feel he could survive without me, he wanted me to move in with him (I was 16), he wanted to get married, he wanted me to spend every waking moment with him. But he was hurtful, he was physically abusive. At one point he slammed me into a wall, hand around my throat, because I didn't want to do something he wanted, I don't remember what it was. He held a knife to my throat because I didn't want to have sex. The feelings of doubt and sadness continued - I hated everything about myself. On top of that my parents were in the middle of a very ugly divorce, and we (my siblings and myself) were used as pawns. Everything was so out of control in my life, and I had no outlet, because I couldn't talk to anyone; partially because my parents forbade it, but also because no one really understood, or wanted to understand what was going on inside my mind. When I was 17, I tried to overdose. I had some medication that I knew I couldn't tolerate, and I took the whole bottle. I woke up hours later sicker than I'd ever felt; vomiting until I blacked out, just felt like the bus had run me over and then backed up a few times. And I felt worse; I couldn't even commit suicide the right way. I just sunk farther and farther into sadness, loneliness, isolation. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had no idea where my life was headed. Nothing gave me joy, nothing gave me hope. I got involved into theatre, which helped in the sense that there was a group of people who were somewhat outcasts like me. I started to feel a little more confident, until I confided in a longtime friend about being depressed, attempting suicide. The response I got was the opposite I thought - he backed away, telling me it was all too much for him to deal with. That blow led me down the road of self mutilation - I began cutting myself. And it felt amazing - for the time I was actively cutting, feeling my skin separating, seeing blood rise to the surface. But afterward came massive amounts of shame. I had to hide it, I had to keep anyone from knowing my dark secret. A point came where I could not take it anymore; I couldn't take holding it in. I confided in a teacher, and he was very supportive and sympathetic. He respected my wish to not call my parents. He directed me to peer counseling. He checked on me, made sure I was going to be ok. It was refreshing to know that someone out there knew, and someone out there didn't think I was bad. He encouraged me to use writing as an outlet, which I did. It was the first glimmer of hope I had. However, it didn't last, because graduation meant going to college, and into real life. When you are someone who suffers from low self esteem, depression, sadness, all of those things, my advice is to NOT pursue a degree in theatre. Some may find it therapeutic, and if you have someone in a position of power who can help you, it could be. My experience was that it was not; it was the opposite. Once again I was outcast. I was teased. I was excluded. The department director refused to give me a chance to prove anything. I felt more lost, more alone. I began drinking - very heavily for a while. This continued all through college both the first and second time. The temper, the violence, the self harm, all if it got worse. I was cutting daily. I was lashing out. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I started drinking daily, started doing drugs, started sleeping with anyone who said yes. I made yet another attempt at my life in my mid 20's after my mother kicked me out; I tried the whole "chase the bottle of aspirin with the bottle of vodka" approach; obviously that did not work. Furthermore, I couldn't find a decent job, so I had to work several jobs to support myself, my boyfriend at the time, and his friend. I was the only person making money, and it all went toward drinking, drugs, partying. And then behind closed doors was the same story; frequent abuse, both physical and verbal. He cheated on me constantly; he gave me an STD from it. I just felt unheard, unloved, unnecessary, and completely forgettable. I'd tried medication at 19, and it helped for a while. But I didn't have insurance, so I reached a point I couldn't afford it, so I stopped. I tried counseling, again very expensive, and couldn't afford it. However during that time one psychiatrist made a suggestion to me - he gave me a list of "symptoms", and asked me if I felt any of those. When I reviewed the list, I felt that yes, I fit majority of them. It turned out, that list was the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder. This was back in 1999, so I'd never heard of it before. And I did spend a lot of years in complete denial of the idea that something was wrong with me in that way - I still had the mentality it was just ME. Fast forward to about 10 years ago, I moved across the country because I managed to get a job that actually paid well. I was engaged at the time (this was my late 20's), so we packed up and moved away. I started to feel better; maybe it was the new environment, a chance to start over. But the feelings, the thoughts, the darkness, it wasn't gone. It was there. It followed me. I started learning things about my future husband that were completely outrageous, and my complete desperation for someone to love me blinded me to the fact that everything he told me was a complete lie. I went through with the wedding, and we had a daughter shortly thereafter. His lies continued, and they got worse. I felt trapped, and that my only option was suicide. Then I met my current husband. He was the first friend I made when I moved, and he's been my biggest cheerleader ever since. He stood by me during my divorce when no one else did. I returned the favor when he went through his. He was always there, he helped me with my daughter, I helped him with his son. We created our own family unit; and we realized that we had something special, something more. I felt a love for him that I'd never felt before; the same love I felt for my daughter. But my mental state wasn't completely in check - the outbursts, the temper, the anger, sadness, depression, distrust - all of those plagued our relationship to where I thought he was going to leave me. But then he said something to me that no one else had ever said - he told me that I may be a bit crazy, but he loved me, and that didn't give him a right to give up on me. I'd never had anyone tell me that they won't give up on me. It was life changing. It was vindication. I was not alone. Furthermore, we learned that my daughter has high functioning autism, and she has difficulties expressing her emotions, her anger explodes in a way that was very familiar - I did the very same thing to those I loved. I purposely pushed so that when they would inevitably leave, it wouldn't hurt as bad (untrue; it still hurts. Bad.). But what I realized was in order to help her cope, I had to help myself. I had to be sound in mind in order to successfully guide her through this. She needed me to be healthy, so that I could help her. Today, I've accepted that I do suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. I am currently seeking treatment with a good psychiatrist. I am making very deliberate and conscious choices in how I handle my emotion, finding constructive ways to manage. My husband has been very supportive; he's stuck by me and holds me accountable, which I've learned how to be accountable for my own actions. In turn, it's helped me to be a better wife and mother to my children. By no means am I "cured", but I've found a medication combo that works, and I just take things one day at a time. I will turn 37 this year. And I can look back now and be thankful that 20 years ago I failed, because I now have two beautiful children and a loving husband to give my life purpose. I wish I had support back then. Granted, having gone through a divorce myself, and having children of my own, I can now say that my parents weren't at "fault" - they did the best they could with what they had. Mental illness was just not discussed or talked about back then, and sadly today the stigma still stands, but more people like me are starting to stand up and tell their stories. And yes, telling my story is scary - but I am thinking of the future, of my children, and how they need support; support I never got. However even though I didn't have the support I would have liked, it's taught me that as a parent, I do not ever want to close that door to my children. My daughter is going to have struggles. She is going to have doubts. She is going to feel different. I want her experience to be vastly different from mine, and I feel the difference starts at home. I plan to be that parent that my kids feel comfortable coming to with something like this - and in doing so, I can tell them that I've been there, I've been where they are, and it does get better. I never thought my life would turn out the way it has, and while I wish things would have changed I don't regret anything - it made me who I am today, and without it, I may not have my kids. If you are someone going through a darkness like this, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not flawed. You are not broken (although you will feel like it). You have a condition that can be treated medically, just like any other health condition. Don't rule medication out - there is a true imbalance in your brain and medication can help fill the gap where biology failed. It might take a few tries, because you really don't know how it will work until you've tried it, and you have to give it time. They do not work overnight, they have to build up in your system. But if it helps you at least get out of bed, it's a start. Reach out to others - maybe it's not your parents, but maybe a friend, or teacher, or counselor. Reach out on Facebook - you would be AMAZED at the amount of support groups out there for people just like you; people who are suffering now, people who have survived, people who need answers, people who can give answers. Those terrible words that your brain will tell you, they will always try to come back, try to take over, tell you that you are nothing, you are worthless. And it will be hard at times to ignore it. But try. And keep trying. The more you practice replacing those thoughts, the easier it will get. But it takes time, patience, and practice. Every day will be a struggle; some days easier than others, but you can and will overcome it. When those words come from others because you are part of a different group or live a different lifestyle, don't listen. It's hard, and it will be. But hold your head up high and just. don't. listen. Focus on you - you are special. You are irreplaceable. People fear what they don't understand. Don't let it change your life. Let them live with ugliness in their hearts, because anyone who can make another human being feel so bad that suicide seems like the only way out has nothing but ugliness inside them. You however do not - you have a beauty that not everyone deserves to see. Don't let others tarnish your beauty. You don't know what the future holds. No one does. But don't cut your future short; don't deny your future spouse, your future children their husband/wife/mother/father. There are those who love you and value you - stick to those and don't worry about the rest. Everything I went through in my life I feel is worth it because of what I have now. Don't stay silent. And don't give up. We have the power to change the way mental illness is viewed. We just have to unlock it and use it, and that alone gives you purpose. But you will find that you have so much more value and purpose than just a soldier of justice; however having that one thing to strive for, no matter how small it may seem, can be enough to help pull you out. Speaking out and getting help takes courage - but you are already courageous, because you battle a demon that no one else can see every day. Trust me - I know. Bottom line: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Anyone who tries to make you feel like you are do not have a place in your world. You are special, because you are alive. Don't give up. Don't give in. There is help, and there is hope. I didn't think so when I was young. I was wrong, and I am sure glad that I was.
My grandfather had Alzheimer's for as long as I could remember. Sometimes he was there and other times he was in 1973, it was always uncertain if he was lucid or not. It was A game of Russian Roulette and I guess I was the unlucky one who got shot. The summer I was 11 was a summer of firsts, my first period, my first boyfriend and it was also the summer where my life forever changed. We were visiting my grandparents for the Fourth of July so we stayed at their house. My brother and sister slept beside me on the living room floor while my parents slept in the guest room. My grandfathers room was right across the hall from the bathroom. I woke up around 2:30am and went to the restroom in a silent house. Everyone was sleeping- or so I thought. I opened the door and there he was, my grandfather telling me to go outside and to hurry. I didn't question him, I simply followed his orders. It was humid and I don't really remember what happened or how it happened, but he raped me that night. He covered my mouth and told me to never tell anyone and it'll be our little secret. I didn't scream or try to fight back, I just laid there, helplessly. That night has stuck with me for seven long years. I had nightmares over and over and over again. I went through a state of denial where I didn't believe it and where I blamed myself or his sickness for his actions. I didn't realize I was spiraling into a depression it'd take years to crawl out of. I didn't tell anyone until except for my best friend three years later. He has helped me through everything and I'm so thankful for him. After my denial phase I went through an angry phase, except I was angry at myself. I punished myself for what he did to me. I started to self-harm. I would find and use anything to cut myself with, on my thighs, my arms, my stomach. And when that wasn't enough I starved myself and made myself throw up anything I ate. This lasted for about three years. So that puts us to this year, senior year. I had finally overcome everything when this boy started to mess with me. He'd walk by me and say "nice titties" or "nice rack" and "big tits." He'd grab my sides from behind and if I ever bent over he was behind me. I felt like crap about myself and my body and when I finally got the courage to tell my principal he said "try not to put yourself in that situation" and "don't give him the wrong idea" as if saying no over and over isn't enough. The boy never got in trouble and it lead to feelings of worthlessness and sadness and brought back my depression. I started self harming and throwing up again. It took my best friend to pull me back. Although I still struggle with eating and throwing up, I haven't self harmed in 3 months. I'm also in therapy and am on medication. For all of you reading this, reading my story, I want you to know that you are worth it. You are not what someone says about you. You are not what your parents say in fits of rage. You are beautiful. You are wonderful. You are powerful and you are strong. God bless and keep fighting your fight.
One day I had woken up and my life had fallen into pieces. I was only 4 when I first saw my dad lay hands on my mother. Never once did my dad abuse me my mentally I was traumatized. Growing up it got worse because no one really knew what I was going through at home. At the age of 8 I got taken from my parents and was sent to live with a relative because my dad had overdosed and my mom was divorcing him. At the age of 12 my dad got sent to Utah for rehab and at this moment I lost it. I lost my dad but not only that I lost my mother to a crippling depression all I remember is her sleeping all hours of the day and always taking her anger out on me and my sister. Soon I became depressed and started self harming when I was just at the age 13. All my friends had their mom and dad and a house full of happiness and I had nothing but myself. Soon my mom would see my scars and tell me I just wanted attention which made me feel worse. Now I'm attending 8th grade and I'm now 15 and at this point I hadn't self harmed in a year. At this point I meet a boy who tells me I'm beautiful and I had never gotten attention from a boy before. This ended in my nudes getting passed around the school. I was scared and hurt and angry and sad all in one. A couple days passed and I'd get looks in the halls and I would get called a whore and a slut so I started to self harm again but this time not only my wrists but I'd also cut my hips and my thighs so no one could see. I tried committing suicide by taking sleeping aid and i slept for two days before I woke up. When I awoke my mom took me to a counselor and I only went about two times and then we stopped because we couldn't afford it so I kept a journal and started writing in there every time I had a bad thought come across. My two best friends got me through this period. Now I'm a senior and I survived high school but it isn't highschool with out being called ugly or fat or a slut. Now here's my senior year and I've come to grow to love myself and if it wasn't for my bestfriend who stuck by my side through this I wouldn't of survived
In 6th grade, I wasn’t worried about what “normal” middle-schoolers were worried about. Learning the newest gossip, the mean sub, whether my crush liked me back, what to do to get my mom to let me finally put on make-up. No. Starting my first year in middle school, I worried whether or not I was going to survive a back surgery. As you can see, I did. That surgery changed my life, it not only saved me, but it also killed me in a way. I was never the same. Many activities I loved to participate in, I couldn’t anymore. But I tried to stay strong. Time passed, and as I withdrew more into myself, my loved ones failed to notice the silent scream for help in my eyes. More time passed, and I found myself slowly trying to stitch the broken pieces of myself back together. I was “fine”. I wasn’t “great” anymore, to everyone, I was “just fine, thank you”.
Two years later, I was hopeful to regain the stride I’d once had. I was ready to take on the world and say, “Bring it on! I’m strong because I have faith, I can do it!” That was the year we rushed my dad to the nearest hospital at two in the morning because of severe abdominal pain. You know how we’re all particularly close to one parent? Don’t deny it, it’s perfectly normal. Well, that was me and my dad. We were inseparable. We were partners in crime, best friends, I was the princess to his overprotective dragon from boys. He was my nurse when I fell ill, my shoulder to cry on, my support when I fought with my mom, my cheerleader, he screamed so hard when I would accept my A-honor roll trophies at the end of each year. I swear, the old man was my everything. To say I was scared that morning sitting in the ER was an understatement. I went to school hours later, still no news from the hospital. After a week in the hospital, I got pulled out of my class by my mom. She said to me in the parking lot outside of the hospital, “Genesis, the results came in today. Dad has cancer.” Pancreatic cancer that was detected too late. It had spread to his colon, stomach, liver, prostate, lungs, and heart. My mom wasn’t going to tell him how bad it was, it would’ve scared him too much. And I didn’t have the heart to either. Because the man I loved so much, whom I thought was immortal, the biggest, strongest man there ever was- because isn’t a girl’s daddy her biggest hero? I know mine was. That amazing, dad-joke loving, kind, God-fearing man had a month to live.
I didn’t cope well. To my dad, I was his ray of sunshine. If anyone made him listen, it was me. I did something I had never done before- I lied to my dad. I told him he had to go back to Mexico City to receive chemo because his insurance wouldn’t cover it here. In reality, I sent him there to make up with his other kids from his past marriage. They held a grudge against him for never being there for them. For divorcing their mother because he worked too much, and for moving to the US and marrying my mom. Most importantly, they were mad at him because he loved me, a child that wasn’t his own flesh and blood. I did what I thought was right- I sent him back on that excuse so he could make amends with his children before he passed. I did what I thought was right, even though all I wanted to do was grab him and keep him until the end- to spend every last possible second with him and tell him every single day how much I loved him. But I didn’t, I let him go. He called me the day after he landed, they threw a big party in his honor, and that everyone thanked me for convincing him to go back. They knew why I’d sent him back, they told me that he was still practicing our waltz for my 15. Two days after that, my wonderful dad went back home to Heaven. He didn’t even make it to the first round of chemo.
You know that horrible feeling you get when you’re in a roller coaster? That God-awful, stomach-dropping feeling? Multiply that times a hundred. You won’t even come to a fourth of what I felt. I’d have rather take the back surgery a thousand times again. Take it, and been grateful. The pain was never-ending. It took me a week to eat again. And even longer to talk. Depression had always lingered around me, but since that day, it consumed my very being. I couldn’t go anywhere without being hit with memories of him, and that would trigger sobs choking me and rendering me a weak, grief-stricken mess. It’s taken me time to admit this, but I got pretty bad. I cut myself every day to try to lower that pain, and when it didn’t work, I’d cut again. And again. And again. It got to the point where I lay there, on the bathroom floor, wearing my dad’s old shirt, arms bleeding, and an entire bottle’s worth of strong narcotic pain medicine strictly used for my severe back pain post-surgery.
As you can see, I didn’t take them, or I wouldn’t be here today. I never told anyone, and no one knew this until I finally had the courage to speak up about my depression. I lived with this for too long, and no one knew. I’m here to tell you that people, even your best friends, aren’t mind-readers. Even MOMS aren’t mind-readers. My mom never caught onto my suffering. I hid the scars, hid the dark circles under my eyes from not sleeping because I would dream of my dad, weak on his knees, throwing up his own blood when he thought no one knew. The happy Genesis my dad knew and loved was gone. She’d died the day he did, and no one had any idea. Everyone thought I’d moved on. They didn’t see that I was falling deeper and deeper into the scary black hole many people around the world suffer in silence from.
Depression is a huge thing, it’s not a mentality, it’s not a “phase”, it’s a thing that makes people sick. It eats you away from the inside. Slowly, but surely, it paints a façade of “I’m fine”, “I’m okay” over the rotting inside of your soul. It’s something that should never be ignored, and should never be left alone to deal with. I’m witness to the fact that it can, and that it WILL get better. Amare Outreach can give you the help and support you need. The kind that I needed, but never got. You know, it wasn’t until now, in my Junior year- about two weeks ago actually- that I had an outcry. My choir director learned about the cutting, the pain, and she took me to where I could get the help I needed. There are people who care. People who know and understand that what you’re going through is real, and it’s a hell of a journey to take on alone. The road to getting better starts with you. Speak out, it can save your life like it did for me. And if you know of anyone who’s going through this alone, tell for them. Save a life, give them the love and support they need. I knew it would have saved me sooner if I had someone there for me. And daddy, I hope that wherever you are, looking after me, I make you proud. I hope that, with time, the little girl you once loved can live again. I miss you a little bit more each and every day, and I will always “love you more.”
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