Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of eating disorders, self-harm, sexual assault, and suicidal thoughts that may be triggering to some.
“I was diagnosed with severe depression and general anxiety at the age of 14. I was suicidal, self-harming, and hated myself in every way. From the time I was diagnosed to now, it’s been a long journey to recovery.
I started therapy around the time I was diagnosed. It seems juvenile to be talking about middle school drama when I had no idea about the things unfolding in my life throughout the next few years. I went to therapy four times a month for the longest time and I was being talked off of a painful ledge with two parents who weren’t familiar with the battles of mental health. My parents got divorced when I was born, and I was primarily raised by my mother, who had battles of her own. She taught me how to be a strong woman even with those internal struggles.
When I started high school, things went downhill for me quickly. I was smart but unmotivated. I just simply did not want to be alive anymore. I started antidepressants at 15, just to make me feel normal again. I struggled with friends, school, and just living in general. Things felt so difficult for me at the time. I was told by many people, ‘It’s all in your head and you should just get over it.’ I just wanted to be a happy kid with a perfect family life. Most of my friends had happily married parents, one big house, and a smile on their face. I grew up in a time where mental health was not prominent. I felt alone.
Things were really bad for me during my junior year of high school. I felt myself declining a lot, I knew I wasn’t doing good, but I didn’t seek help. I tried to end my own life and no one knew. I failed, but I didn’t realize it happened for a reason.
A few weeks later, I got the worst call of my life. ‘Jared tried to kill himself,’ echoed through the phone. My older brother attempted to end his own life, which turned my whole world upside down. He was my best friend, the only person I felt really understood my struggles. I have blamed myself for years for not knowing, and not being able to help him. The doctors told us ‘he might never be the same,’ over and over, it felt like a million times.
When he was in a coma, unable to talk or move on his own, I stopped taking care of myself completely. I was failing in school, in an abusive relationship, and developed anorexia in the process. All I cared about was getting my brother back. After dealing with physical and mental abuse, I got out of a toxic situation and sought help for my eating disorder. I had lost 40 pounds in a span of 6 weeks. As I battled depression, anxiety, PTSD, and an ED, I watched my brother regain strengths we didn’t think he would ever get back. I felt hopeful. He recovered very quickly and gave me hope I could too.
I got through high school in one piece. I healed from my brother’s attempt and my own attempts. My eating disorder was difficult, but I made a great recovery. I got accepted into college with a full-ride scholarship. When I went off to college, I expected my life to get so much better. I had high hopes of finally feeling whole again and having a place in the world.
3 weeks into school, I was sexually assaulted on campus, which quite literally broke me. I spent the rest of my time there battling severe suicidal ideations, and I stopped eating and sleeping almost completely. I spent most of my time trying to soothe my pain with alcohol and the presence of people who no longer cared. Many people said, ‘This wasn’t your fault.’ But it felt like my fault. I was constantly asked, ‘Were you drunk? What were you wearing? How could you let this happen to yourself?’ It felt like I had lost everything, including myself. I went to therapists on campus, and eventually withdrew from the semester and moved home. My whole family watched me throw away the dream I had held for years.
I felt like a huge failure. I constantly asked myself, ‘Why me? Why did this have to happen to me? What was the purpose behind all of this pain? Do I even matter?’ Of course, I do. This took so long for me to realize. After getting back on my feet and landing a full-time job, starting a committed and loving relationship, gaining my independence by getting my own apartment, and meeting the right people, I learned everything happens for a reason. I realized that without my pain, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I didn’t do this alone. I wanted to fight my battles without burdening anyone. I have felt like a huge burden my whole life, but I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with asking for help. As I’ve grown with managing my mental health, so has my family. I have been blessed with a mother who is so understanding. She is my best friend in the whole world. She constantly said, ‘Without bad days, you will never appreciate the good ones.’ And she was right. Without her, I would not be here anymore. She has taught me so many ways to fight the demons in my head and she has been there for me every step of the way.
My dad has been a huge advocate for my mental health for a long time. He helped me venture out and start medication and gave me many resources to help. He is always a phone call away whenever I’m in trouble. I was also blessed with two understanding step-parents who love my parents in ways that inspire me wholeheartedly. Having four parents has been more helpful than just having two. I have supportive siblings who also struggle with mental health, and my journey has helped them realize a lot of things too. I have a little brother who is navigating life with mental health, and I pray he never has to go through the things I have.
Not everyone has the resources that I do, and I completely understand that. At 14, my family didn’t understand me, and it made me feel awful about myself. They soon learned how to adapt to the way I needed things. It takes time for people to understand the things going on in your head. I know better than anyone how difficult it feels when you feel like you have nobody. Feeling that hole of loneliness is unbearable, but I hope you know you are never alone. The world is fast-paced and growing. There are millions of people all over it who would drop everything and listen to you. I promise. Being unhealthy mentally is a killer. It can take away people you never thought would leave your side. But from what I’ve learned, you are your strongest advocate. Never stop fighting for your peace. The world will throw the worst things at you, but I know you can handle them and fight on. People love you and would die for you.
If I had to give you any advice to help you win this fight, it would be to never give up. I’ve gotten to points where I’m ready to throw in the towel. But I remember I’m in this life to win. To stand out. To make a difference. Many people are on the same path as you and you have no idea. They have no idea. Sharing your story may save someone’s life. It may feel like living another day is the worst thing in the world, but I can assure you that losing you is even worse. The world is a better place with you in it. It’s okay to seek help through therapy or to take medication, or any other form of care. You are loved, and valid, and belong on this Earth just like everyone else. Always remember that.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Abby Abrams. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about mental health here:
‘Don’t try to fix me, or tell me it’s in my head. Just show up. Just love. I promise I’ll do the same.’: Woman pens letter to friends explaining anxiety, ‘true friendship is loving each other in ups and downs’
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