“A year ago, I was put on Escitalopram. Lexapro. It’s for depression, insomnia, anxiety, and OCD. It’s weird to think this little white pill is somehow helping me. Each tablet is 20 mg. I guess, in a way, every day I’m 20 mg from ending myself. That’s a bit scary if you think about it too much. I mean, 20 of anything really isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things. Along this theme of 20, I just turned 21. I’m so young, but I feel so, so old.
I’ve been depressed since I was 11. I’ve had anxiety since I was 12. I’ve had OCD since I was 15. I’ve had insomnia since I was 18. I had a hard childhood, maybe not as hard as others, but still. I shouldn’t compare, I know.
My father was very angry when I was growing up, threatening to hurt my mom and my siblings. My mom just took it, my brother got angry, my sister hardened, and I just watched. I was 3–what was I supposed to do? I’d look at my friends’ parents and see a connection there, a thread between both parents, and then I’d look at mine and wish. Not that I understood the complexities of things then, because I was just a kid, but I wasn’t stupid. People always assume kids are stupid just because they don’t understand. It’s not true.
I remember the first time I tried to cut. I was in seventh grade, 12 years old, and my mom was screaming at my sister. They did that a lot, but this was too much. I wanted to scream, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I grabbed this object, one of those things used to scrap art or whatever it’s called, and I went crazy. It didn’t do much, obviously, because its job was to scrap. After that, I felt numb, like someone switched something off in my brain. I felt this pressure sort of lift from my chest, like someone’s hands going from pushing down on my lungs to releasing. I swore I’d never cut again, never try again. I’m sure you can imagine how that went.
I begged my parents for help. Since I was in seventh grade, I asked for a therapist because I knew something was wrong. When I showed my mom my arms, nothing happened. I asked for help for years until I had a massive panic attack in tenth grade that left my body shaking like I was having a seizure. I stayed awake for two days straight because of that. It was the biggest one I’d ever had, and it absolutely terrified me. Finally, I got a therapist. I wasn’t given any medication, though. My parents don’t believe in that sort of thing.
When I first went to college, I thought I could make it just fine. And then, sophomore year, I became the most depressed I’ve ever been. For three weeks, there was just a kitchen knife and me. I didn’t want to die, exactly. I just wanted to stop existing, just have a second where I could stop. Kinda like when you pause a movie or game. That’s what I wanted. There was Christmas break, and then I went back to school. Three more weeks of sucking, black depression. I’d stay awake for days on end, days blurring together into a grey haze. My arms and legs stung from where I cut. I’d go to this bridge on campus and stand there at night, imagining what it’d be like to fall. Would my skull crack from the stones, or would I simply drift away with the rest of the rushing water? I isolated myself from everyone, withdrawing to the library and blasting music in my earbuds so I could try to drown all my thoughts out. I couldn’t feel anything for these three weeks. It’s as if I was driven by a bunch of machines controlling my body, or as if I had turned into a strict machine with no emotion. I knew, deep down, this was bad. This was the worst I’d ever been. Any lower would be six feet under in a wood box.
I went to the health center on campus and filled out a form to see a therapist. I knew if I didn’t see someone then, I would die. If I didn’t talk to someone and work through my sh*t, I would kill myself. Dying didn’t scare me, and I’m still not afraid of death now. It’s the after that scares me. I grew up in a Christian home, so I had the fear of hell and heaven hammered into me. I never really believed, but there’s always the ‘what if’ that floats around my head. I knew if I died right then, I would find out. I didn’t want that, not when that’s my greatest fear. I met with the nurse practitioner on campus, and she gave me my first prescription ever. Escitalopram, 20 mg. I didn’t expect immediate results, obviously. I’m a psychology major and I know how SSRI’s work. I just thought of how insane it was this little white pill was supposed to help when I’d been suffering for years.
Do I think it’s helped? Yes. One thousand percent, yes. Is it a cure? No. I still have sleepless nights, days that blend into each other, moments where I wish I would die or stop existing, times where I hear the blade sing, days where I’m so anxious I can’t string words together. I’m in such a better place than I was when I was 11, 12, 15, 18, 20. I’m going to get better. I’m going to reach a point where I don’t need Lexapro to help me anymore. I’m hopeful for then.”
[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]
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