It was October 2000, I excitedly wore my sister's hand-me-down pink Power Ranger costume and at Kindergarten, we were having a Halloween party. I was ready to go, but that's when I ended up on the couch head spinning, stomach nauseous, and heart pounding. At the time, I didn't know what was happening to me. I thought I had gotten sick, but, that was the first panic attack I remember experiencing. I stayed home, and I am still bitter that when I went to class the next day, no one saved me any candy. My 5-year-old heart was crushed from the betrayal.
Since then, I had a long history of severe social anxiety and later, deep depression. In Elementary school, I was very social and talkative, but there were times where I would get in trouble for talking and even a librarian got in my face to reprimand me. I don't have many memories from those early years, but a lot of what I do remember wasn't emotionally positive. I was a very sensitive kid and my mental disorder did not help with that. I remember being shot down for my ideas, being teased for what I liked, and being picked on because it was easy. Simple events that may not seem like much to others meant the world to my young self.
Things started going downhill when I reached Middle School, that is when I started to isolate myself and the depression started developing. At the time I didn't realize it, but I had a superiority complex. I believed that I was better and more mature than everyone else. Yet, that superiority was a false cover for the negative emotions that I didn't want to face. Middle school is when my grades started slipping, my anxiety started taking over, my procrastination started thriving, and I started avoiding anything that made me uncomfortable.
High school was pure hell. I would fake being sick and miss the bus to skip school because I didn't have the strength to go. I was content fading into the corner and ignored by everyone around me. I was content with my teachers forgetting about me when there was an assignment that I had to present to the class. I was content with all the zeros and F's if it meant I didn't have to put myself in an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, my avoidance didn't make anything better. My choices caught up with me and made my college years a living hell.
I didn't seek out professional help until I was 20-years-old due to an event that I will not mention at this moment. I went to my first psychologist and it didn't last long. We didn't click, and I wasn't ready to get better even though I know I needed to. I felt lower than I had before, and I believed that I needed something stronger to "fix" myself. So, I decided to go to a psychiatrist and pump myself full of meds. For the last two years, it has been a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I was finally getting the nudge I needed to make myself a better person. It was a curse because I began to realize how complex my mental illness was.
My mental health has caused me many issues throughout the years. It sabotaged so many opportunities in my life, but something good did come of it. Today, I am who I am because of my struggles with mental illness. It forced me to strive to be a not only a better person, but to work towards a better me. As much as I hate my mental illnesses, I wouldn't be where I am today without them.
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