“I was always the type of kid who went above and beyond to get good grades. Some kids were good at soccer, some were good at dancing, but I was good at school. It was what I spent most of my time and energy on; I guess you could say that I prided myself on having good grades. This is why when I had to drop out of high school, it felt as though part of my identity was being ripped from me. The one thing I was ‘known for’ was being taken from me.
My struggles with depression and anxiety started during my sophomore year, and only worsened as my high school career went on. I vividly remember the many times I would have to hide in the bathroom before school started, practically unable to function, dragging myself to my classroom at the last minute. I don’t really know if anyone at my school could tell what I was going through, but at that time, I was sure I didn’t want anyone to know. How could I not be able to do the one thing I felt I was good at?
As time went on, it became harder and harder to make it to school. I spent most of my time at home, attempting to catch up on all the work I was missing. My head was filled with so much guilt. Not only was I miserable; I felt as though I was making my entire family miserable. My parents didn’t know what to do to help, and nothing they attempted to do or say made any difference. I was at a point in my life where I often felt entirely numb. Of course, there were times when I felt overwhelmingly depressed or anxious or stressed, but these were the times where I stayed locked up in my room, unable to function. The rest of the time, however, was almost just as hard. I may have appeared to be completely fine, but on the inside, I felt absolutely nothing. I realized then that it’s often better to feel sadness than nothing at all.
As my senior year began, my condition only worsened. Although this is hard to admit, there were times I had suicidal thoughts. My brain was convincing me that the world would be a better place without me in it. Although those thoughts and feelings were strong, the strong love I felt from my family, friends, and God is ultimately what saved me during those dark times.
When the time came where I was faced with one of the hardest decisions of my life, whether or not to withdraw from high school, I felt peace about the decision. Although it wasn’t the path, I had envisioned for myself, it was a path I felt I needed to take. Of course, I was devastated- as I mentioned before, school was kind of my thing. I loved school and was always pushing myself to be better. How could I not be graduating? It was my senior year! What I had to realize, however, is that I was sick with a debilitating illness. The pain I felt was real- I can honestly say it was 10x greater than any physical pain I’ve ever felt. From my sophomore year on, I had tried countless medications, supplements, and other treatments, with no success. Although I wanted to continue on as normal, I knew it was no longer possible. My path ended up looking quite different than I had previously imagined it.
Just before I officially decided to drop out of high school, I met the most incredible woman who made the process so much easier. She made me feel strong and brave, and encouraged me through it all. She enrolled me in the adult education program offered by my school, and for the first time in a long time, I felt hopeful. Although I was still dealing with so much, I knew that this would be the right path for me. My adult education teachers were so flexible and accommodating. I cannot say enough about the adult education program at SAD#1. This program was such a blessing to me, as it has been to so many others.
Since then, I have received the treatment I need for my mental illness, and was diagnosed with a brain malformation, called a Chiari Malformation, that was likely making my mental condition much worse. I underwent brain surgery in January 2018 but am now feeling much healthier and much happier. I can happily say that although there were times in my life when I felt that I would never feel okay again- I was so, so wrong. Boy, was I wrong… I feel so much happiness and joy and recently got married to the man of my dreams, welcoming a sweet baby niece to the world only days before the wedding. My story may not be one without trials, but it sure is one filled with blessings. I am thankful every day that God saved me from the dark places my mind often went to. I hope and pray that if you are reading this and going through similar trials, that you please hold on. Take it one day at a time, and I promise that one day you will look back and see why you held on for so long.
Mental illness is real and it’s scary, but it cannot take away our hope. Don’t let your illness define you. Rather, let it strengthen you. We are not meant to know the paths we will be set on, so let’s journey through life with the attitude that whatever comes our way has come to make us better in some way. Use your experiences and trials to show empathy to those around you, and never, ever, ever lose hope. God is always on our side.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kori Dobson. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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