So I wrote this about a year ago on one of my good days. I’m sharing it on here because even though I’m not having a good day, I need the reminder that there are good days and that for as bad as my anxiety is, at least my depression has gotten significantly better.
As an adolescent, I never cut myself like some girls. I had friends who cut once or twice and then stopped before they got addicted. I had friends who cut regularly until one day they got help and then they got better. I even had friends who to this day probably still struggling with cutting. Me? I never cut myself. I tried though. I wanted to. But I never could. Perhaps it’s stupid, but I hate pain so much, I would rather feel nothing, the painful loneliness that feels like nothingness, than feel pain. But I wanted a release. Exercise was a no go because I always ended up having to stop not long after starting from wheezing. I couldn’t do anything to physically hurt myself on purpose like many people, because the combination of hatred for pain and also a feeling of great shame was too much to bear. It was not worth it to hurt myself.
I found release in anger. Anger felt good. Rage did not hurt me. Until it did. I would come out of a fit of rage and see what I had done. My brother would be upset. Things in my room would be broken, pencils, paper, and dents in the wall from throwing things at it. Yet, there was never anything too big broken because I did not want my parents to find out. I figured I would be in trouble for getting so angry over nothing. Even with all the hurt, I didn’t want to know what would happen if my parents found a giant dent in the wall or a lamp broken. So I tried to cut. I really did. But the two or three times I tried, the scissors were too dull and the pain of the skin splitting was too much, so I stopped. I was not one to try burning myself because I have been burned many times from the sun, hot glue guns, and even the stove.
Truthfully, I could not think of a way to get a release. I knew kids that turned to drugs and alcohol. I knew kids that had to deal with their siblings and their friends turning to that stuff. Me? I fought myself some more. I realized one day that even though I was getting a release from being angry, it was unproductive. I always felt ashamed and upset when I got that mad. So I stopped going in to such fits of rage. But then the internal battles grew worse and more often. I would lay in bed desperate for sleep because sleep did not hurt. Sleep did not make me feel lonely. Sleep was my friend when no one else was. But I could not sleep too much or someone might notice. Staying in bed til noon on Saturday and Sunday was fine, but going to bed as soon as we got home from school? Not so much.
For a time I turned to food. I would binge eat because it would mask how hurt I was. But I hated eating and feeling fat. So I quit binge eating and went back to eating more normally. If I’m being honest, I even thought about suicide once or twice. But my faith in God that things would get better and that someone loved me kept me going. Sure I could not see him and at times it seemed like the whole world hated me and I it. But still, I knew God loved me and wanted what was best for me and one day I would find it. So suicide never got me. Plus, I watched a few people kill themselves. People who should never have had to struggle so hard. I saw how much it hurt those around them who had to deal with the death. I knew that as much pain as I was in, I could never put the pain of my death on someone else intentionally. Plus, I had things I still wanted to do with my life. If I was dead I couldn’t do those things. Still, I thought about it.
Luckily, I was really good at convincing myself not to do things. Honestly, this was all before I was 16 years old. But slowly, it got a little better. When I was 15 I was put on medication for an anxiety disorder. That seemed to help some of the pain I felt. But maybe it was that I finally found a few friends who actually wanted to hang out with me, to get to know me. Even if it was only a few. What I found as sixteen and then seventeen and then eighteen came, was that a few of these girls would become my best of friends. One girl seems to know when I need her or what to say even before I text her. One I can look at and she gives me a hug or somehow brightens up my day by merely existing. Others make me laugh really hard for no reason while still another makes me contemplate humanity by being just a little more reserved than the rest of us.
What I also found was that they were struggling too. We were a group of misfits. We weren’t the nerds, jocks, or populars. We were just kind of… there. But we each struggled in our own way. One girl cut. One masked the pain of separated parents and home struggles with humor. One dealt with depression and a feeling of being lost. One was attacked and locked away within herself because of it. I love them all dearly though. They changed my life. One girl probably saved my life. She locked herself away in her mind hoping not to get hurt. She and I had figured out the same thing: if you don’t let anyone in, you won’t get hurt. But that wasn’t working out so well. We were still getting hurt. But for some odd reason, she trusted me. I haven’t the faintest idea why, but she did. She let me into parts of her life. She let me understand some of her struggles. We began to talk more openly. I would share some of my story, she would share some of hers, we would eat ice cream and we both felt just a bit better.
But at the end of sophomore year, I had to change schools. My family could not afford for me to keep going to the school where I had met these amazing people. Instead, I had to go back to the place I had run from. The place I had been so desperate to leave, I was forced to return to. The depression set in worse. I did my best to keep up, to not let it all get to me. But I struggled. My grades were bad, nowhere near what I should have been doing, what I could have been doing. My relationships with my peers were as bad as when I had left a year previously, always talking past each other with ego in the way. It was back to having teachers who were not always interested in teaching us, or rather who struggled to separate teaching and socializing with students less than half their age. High School was a struggle. At that time I also lost the job I had had because the stress and depression caused me to be sick often.
Senior year rolled around and I was okay. Not good, but not as bad as I was for much of junior year. Until I was rejected by all but two colleges. It was okay because I thought I really wanted to go to one of the schools. I visited…. And it was not right for me. I knew as soon as I got there. So I fell into a bit of depression again, sinking back to how I was junior year. Then, I was “forced” to apply to one more school by my dad. Then we struggled with the application process due to a variety of factors and I almost did not get in. But, eventually I did. Then I did not get enough financial aid. Then I did. Then we had to put down a deposit. So we did. Then I went to orientation and was on campus for the first time. I was committed to a place I had never been. Then… it turned out to be the right place. I knew it as soon as I entered the library. It was fantastic. My depression seemed to lift. It started getting better. The summer kind of sucked, but even then, my depression was so much better than it had been.
Freshman year rolled around and I ended up with a great roommate. Sure she drives me crazy sometimes, but who doesn’t? I also met a good friend who I know struggles, even if she won’t admit it. In fact, I see people all around me struggling who will not admit it. But, it’s okay, I just hope they learn to talk to someone, anyone, so that they don’t struggle too much. Life is game. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes we hate it. But it gets better. Here I am, on a warm January night, writing this while my roommate tries to calm down from a fight she had earlier and my good friend lays on my bed reading her homework because her roommate kicked her out to sleep. Things get better, the nights are dark and the days are hard. But it gets better. Maybe even good. Maybe one day it will even be great. All we can do is wait and see.