‘Something is wrong with Dad. He’s not breathing!’ It felt like a horrible dream.’: Teen mom faces depression, alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy after losing father, ‘I’ve finally taken my life back’

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“At 16 years old, I was carefree and happy. I was in my junior year of high school and everything seemed just about perfect. I had the perfect boyfriend, tons of friends, and a crazy big family.

Courtesy of Cheyenne Campbell

One morning, my sister woke me up saying, ‘Come quick, something is wrong with Dad.’ I was half asleep. I remembered telling her to leave me alone. She came back into the room and told me, ‘He’s not breathing and mom is doing CPR!’ He was lying on the floor in the bathroom and wouldn’t wake up.

It sunk in when I went into the bathroom after the paramedics told us there was nothing they could do. I remember laying my head on his chest, telling him, ‘I will be strong for you.’ He died from cardiac dysrhythmia, which is basically an irregular heartbeat. We were extremely close. That morning felt like a dream, like I was still asleep and hadn’t woken up. From the ambulance lights to the black body bag they wheeled him out in–a horrible dream. That very moment, I was overcome with my first tragedy, ever. I had never experienced anything like that in my life.

Courtesy of Cheyenne Campbell

I quit going to school and I turned to the bottle. I lost days and days I don’t even remember, but I never really grieved. I felt like I was living in an alternate universe. I often thought to myself, ‘I’ll wake up soon.’ None of it was real. I didn’t recognize myself and I didn’t recognize the people around me. I pushed everyone on my dad’s side of the family as far away as possible until they faded into nothingness. Seven months went by but it felt like a lifetime.

Suddenly, my period was late. I bought several pregnancy tests and they were all positive. I went from depressed to blessed. I woke up from what felt like a horrible dream. I enrolled in an online school. Being a scared, pregnant teenager wasn’t easy. My boyfriend and baby’s dad asked me, ‘Can you get an abortion?’ but we ended up staying together and raising our little boy.

After we had Zayden, things seemed good. I graduated from high school and we moved out on our own. We were a family and I felt so blessed. I finally felt like my life was life again and not a horrible dream.

But things weren’t always perfect. My boyfriend wasn’t always faithful. I found out from one of my close cousins, he had multiple conversations with her about wanting to be intimate. I packed up my stuff and moved out for a little bit until we could work on things.

I often felt alone. On top of that, my son was completely nonverbal until he was 3 and a half. He was in speech therapy and early intervention. He had very little ways to communicate with us. It was mostly us pointing and him shaking his head yes or no. As the years went by, I became depressed again because I was in an untrustworthy relationship, with a nonverbal son.

Courtesy of Cheyenne Campbell

Then, I was pregnant again.

I felt less than excited this time around. I often put on a happy face for everyone, but at home alone with a toddler, I would lay in bed for hours, not wanting to get up. I wouldn’t brush my hair. I wouldn’t clean my house. I honestly hadn’t felt this kind of depression before. My once perfect life had felt crushed. I didn’t even cry, I was just nothing. I didn’t move. I overate. I turned to food as a way to leave my mind.

When I had my second son, Bryden, my relationship with my boyfriend was on the mend and we were getting Zayden the help he needed to be able to communicate with us. From there, things were getting a little better. Not every day was perfect but they were better. I would shower, I would brush my hair, but I still had an issue with overeating.

I turned to a Whole 30 diet, which is eating absolutely no processed food. Whole 30 gave me the hope I needed. I lost 40 pounds. Last year I got my first part-time job! I was out of my slump. I was communicating with the outside world and had gained some of my personality back.

Courtesy of Cheyenne Campbell

I’m finally out of the darkness I called home for the past 7 years. I’m back. I’m awake, happy, and confident. I have genuine friends and I’ve created a life and family I’m proud of. I’ve crawled out of the darkest hole I could have imagined and come out on top of a mountain. It’s been a long journey. I’ve had heartache, I’ve lost, I’ve found a new kind of love. But I have finally taken my life back. The diet gave me the extra push I needed. Even though I took some years off, I’ve always been strong. I found it in me to change my life into something I wanted to live.”

Courtesy of Cheyenne Campbell

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cheyenne Campbell. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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