I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was fifteen. I told my parents one day that I didn’t feel like myself anymore. So we made an appointment with my doctor and I was put on a starter dose of Fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac. Then I went on with my life. The only thing that was different was I (kind of) told my parents how I was feeling and I started taking a pill every morning after breakfast.
For a while the medicine helped. I felt like everything was just going to start getting better because I was on medicine now and medicine fixes illnesses, right?
One of the hardest realizations I’ve come to in my twenty-two years of life is that depression and anxiety are not like the flu. You can’t just start taking a medicine and wait for it to attack the illness and rest up until you feel better. Like I said, the medicine helped, but it didn’t cure me of my depression and anxiety.
So when my depression and anxiety got worse after I started college and we had to up my medicine dosage, I got really frustrated.
I take this damn pill every morning. Why do I still feel this way?
I couldn’t find the words to tell my parents how I was feeling. I didn’t want to scare them or have them start blaming themselves. I was worried to tell my friends too much because I had been burned too many times before by talking about my depression and anxiety with my friends.
I decided that the best way to deal with it was to just keep taking my medicine and pretending like I’m wasn't actually depressed. I convinced myself that if I just waited it out I would be better eventually. The higher dosage would work and if I just gave it more time I would get better, right?
Spoiler alert, it didn’t work that way.
Suppressing my depression and anxiety only made things a million times worse. I felt like it was something that made me a person who was impossible of being loved or understood. I mean, who was going to love me if I didn’t even love myself? So I pushed down my feelings and tried to just take everything one day at a time. I distanced myself from my friends and I woke up every morning only wanting the day to end as soon as possible.
Sometimes, just getting out of bed seemed like the most daunting task.
Last year I came to another harsh realization: Not only are depression and anxiety not illnesses you can just pop a pill for, you can’t ignore them either. They say you “fight” depression for a reason, it’s an internal battle.
So I decided to fight.
I didn’t have an epiphany or anything and no one fought the battle for me. I just decided one day that I wasn’t going to let my depression and anxiety win. I picked up all of my broken pieces and dragged myself to a therapist and spilled my guts about every ugly thought I have ever had in my life.
I told her everything I was scared to tell everyone else. I spent the first hour with my therapist just rambling about everything I had been dealing with for years. I told her how I would spend hours scrolling through Tumblr reading the words of people who said exactly what I had always wanted to say, but never could. I told her how I couldn’t sleep at night because I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking all of these horrible thoughts. I told her how I will never be loved by anyone because how can anyone love the broken girl? I told her how hurting myself seemed like the only way I could stop everything.
I told her how I just wanted everything to stop.
I couldn’t ever say these things because I was worried what other people would say or do. Would my friends stop being my friends? Would I make my mom cry? Would the kids at my school think I just wanted attention? I kept all of these ugly things buried deep down inside of me because I was more worried about other people than I was about myself.
The day I finally said them to my therapist was so freeing. I felt like I had literally spilled all of the ugly words out of my body. I felt like I could breathe again. Finally, after years of pushing everything down I had let it all out and I felt brand new.
After I let everything out I realized two things:
I have demons but I CAN beat them.
I choose to continue to talk about the ugly details of my depression and anxiety in the hopes that other people will talk about it too. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you don’t suppress these feelings. Life is ugly and messy sometimes and THAT IS OKAY. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to not be okay.
I choose to share my story not to make it seem like some romanticized and inspiring story of a girl who overcame mental illness. I tell my story because depression and anxiety are rarely beautifully tragic things to deal with. There was nothing beautiful and romantic about what I was doing and going through. To put it in simple terms. I was a freaking mess.
It’s a nasty battle but my hope is that if we talk about it more and break the stigma that is attached to mental illness more people can win their war.
I choose to share my story because I’m not ashamed of the fact that I have a mental illness.
When I was first diagnosed I felt like it was something shameful. I understand now that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I should be proud of myself. I’m a warrior. I have been fighting an internal battle, which is one of the hardest battles to fight. My hope is that by sharing my story more people will be open about their stories because everyone who is fighting this battle is a warrior.
I am open about my battle not because I want attention, but because I want to raise awareness. I was hesitant for a while about being so open on social media platforms about my battles. I feared people would just write me off as another girl just desperate for attention. I can 100% assure you I never did any of this for attention.
I do this for all the people like me. I share my story because I know there is a sixteen-year-old somewhere out there who is struggling in silence just like I was. Who is hiding and ignoring everything they are dealing with. I share my story because I want people to know mental illness is not shameful.
You are stronger than you know. Please don’t give up.
If you are struggling please reach out to someone you trust and/or to one of these resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
National Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-448-4663
Or you can text 494949 if you are not comfortable talking to someone on the phone