I have been struggling with being sad for as long as I can remember. It's not that I am unable to experience happiness, but I do feel like even when I am happy there is something in the back of my mind that weighs me down and makes me numb. When I went to high school I moved school districts and left the tiny school that was my bubble of comfort and moved to a large high school where I was greeted with an I.D. and schedule but was left without any friends. That year in ninth grade my sadness decided to manifest itself self harm. My urge to hurt myself grew more as my self confidence dwindled. I found myself wearing a mask that projected I was fine despite the fact that you could find me daily purging in the bathroom after cross country practice. I told myself it was the running that it made me sick. In the back of my mind I knew that it wasn't normal but as the pounds dropped the complements poured in. "You should be a model," they said. "Wow I wish I had your body." But in reality I looked at all of the girls around me and envied them for what I didn't have. The purging continued and the weight continued to drop. I began drinking at least three cups of coffee to keep myself going. This lasted for at least a year and a half. Sophomore year rolled around and I was lost. The sadness had won and I could no longer think of a reason to live. I got home on March 22, 2015 and I decided I wanted to die. I stared at the knife I got out of the kitchen drawer for at least an hour and cried. I wondered why I was like this inside and I searched for a reason not to hurt myself. Luckily something in the back of my mind told me to stop. I am now a Junior and the sadness isn't gone but I have learned to love myself. I have realized that thoughts that I have are not true. As corny as it sounds I am beautiful just the way I am. I hope that anyone who reads this a similar experience will know they are not alone because I sure feel like I am sometimes. Find people you can talk to, that helped me a lot. Even try getting involved in something that will help you make new friends. Being on the Cross Country team has really helped me. Although I am not necessarily close with everyone on the team it has given me purpose and something to look foreword to.
I used to think that not being able to breathe because there wasn't a place to sit at the lunch table was normal. I thought considering if anyone would notice if you all of sudden were gone was normal. I thought having to pray every night for His protection and a restful night's sleep was normal. I was told "it's just a phase", "you're fine", "you'll be okay", "it's normal". So I played along in the game of life, did my best, and acted normal. I watched how other people acted; when they were happy, and sad, and angry. I learned to become "normal" because that's how you survive. I learned how to become everyone else around me, how to camouflage myself just enough to be normal, be excepted. And it worked. "Fake it till you make it" they said. This soon became my best talent. Putting on a happy face, going through the motions. Years later. Still playing the same game, by this time I knew how it worked, the rules, the tricks. How to get by, how to blend in with the people around me, accommodate them, be there for them, support them. Hiding whoever I was, for someone a little bit more normal. Of course every person has their story. Mine is one of those tragic pity stories that makes people look at you and say "wow, you're so strong". But they couldn't be more wrong. All I was, was a scared kid inside the body of someone who appeared to "have it all together". I choose not focus on my story here, but rather how it affected me. I was convinced my happiness was worth nothing, so I did everything I could for those who surrounded me. I thought my life was worth nothing, but maybe it could be if I could help better the ones around me. I was so ashamed of who and what I was that I latched on little bits of those around me, to cover everything I hated. With every bit I grabbed, I let go of a little piece of me. To every story there is a tipping point, here is mine. One day I met a boy, who I quickly fell for. We dated for 2 1/2 years. He was my entire life. He was the biggest piece I picked up, and he cost me the biggest piece of myself. Eventually, we graduated, and made promises we couldn't keep. "We are too different", he would say, "we want different things now". While he wasn't wrong, I couldn't imagine letting such a big part of who I became go. But I didn't have a choice. He left me anyway, for another girl. I broke. I didn't know who I was without him. I didn't know what to do with myself. So many years of losing myself in other people. So many years of hiding and covering myself to appear normal, I could no longer find the girl who used to be. This what we call rock bottom. The anxiety and depression grew stronger, it began to swallow me, spiral around me. Again I thought this was normal. Finally one day I couldn't stand it anymore, I knew there had to be something truly wrong. After years of faking normalcy I started seeing someone. I learned there was a reasons to all the things I spent years being ashamed of, years covering up. Real, validating, medical reasons. Slowly I fought to find the person I had my whole life smothering. Slowly gaining back pieces of myself I had given up over the years, learning that my voice deserved to be heard, the feelings were valid, and my emotions mattered just as much as those surrounding me. I learned relationship of all kinds are a two way street. I am not saying that I am fully better, or that it was an easy journey I am not saying that I don't have bad days, or every once in a while break down and have a panic attack. Recovery is not linear. It is something you gradually works towards each day, it is something that requires a bigger picture perspective. Please know I have not got this far on my own. I have had help from my friends and doctors each step along the way. And that doesn't make me weak. What I needed was someone to tell me I was worth fighting for, that I deserved to love myself enough to value my own life. I am slowly becoming myself again, unpacking the pieces I have collected along the way. What I hope you gain from my story is knowing you don't have to be "normal". It is okay. And you don't have to be perfect, and put together. It is okay to fall apart sometimes. You don't have to fight these battles on your own. It is okay to ask for help. You don't have to give up everything for those around you. It is okay you can still love them, and take care of yourself too. You are worth fighting for, you deserve to be heard, you don't have to hide any part if yourself to be "normal". Everything you feel is valid, and there is nothing weak or wrong about asking for help.
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