Normally when people look back on their childhood they remember playing kickball with all of their friends at recess, classroom birthday parties, and giant sleepovers.
But for me that was not the case.
I remember being really nervous to start kindergarten. My family had just moved into our new house, in a new town, and since all of my preschool friends went to a different elementary school, I didn’t know anyone in my class. I remember my mom and dad telling me that I had nothing to worry about and that I would make plenty of friends and that everyone would see how great I was.
My first day of kindergarten started off with one girl making the executive decision that I did not belong. She started off by ripping up my play cards and saying that I was “weird.” I know what you’re thinking, it’s just some kid “being a kid”.
But it wasn’t.
Day in and day out, this girl would go out of her way to make me feel uncomfortable and unwanted. I was pushed, kicked, scratched, left out, and told awful things, all at the age of five. I remember coming home balling my eyes out to my parents about how mean she was to me and begging them to not let me go back and to let me go to another school. My parents simply continued to tell me that eventually she’ll stop and that I would have to learn to stick up for myself. Normally, sticking up for myself resulted in my toys being stolen and other kids joining in on the teasing.
Most people would say that middle school was the worst time for them as far as being bullied. For me it was elementary school. I dreaded going to school each and every day for six years. I didn’t have any friends, sat alone on the playground at recess, and didn’t have friends to sit with at lunch. At this age, this was traumatic for me. I couldn’t understand why they hated me. What did I do to deserve that. Did I do something wrong? Was it my fault?
I remember being seven and wanting to die.
Looking back, I think that’s when my depression began. I remember feeling that no one would miss me, not even my parents. I began thinking how much better me and everyone else would be off without me. No one would miss me. I was just wasting space. I used to have a bag packed hidden away in my closet just incase I ever did want to runaway.
I was fifteen when I first opened my medicine cabinet and decided that that was the day I was going to kill myself. I picked up a bottle of pills, poured myself a glass of water and held them in my hand. I even had my suicide note written already. Then I heard the garage door open; my parents had just come home. I quickly threw the pills back into the bottle and acted like nothing happened. Since then, I haven’t been that close to wanting to actually commit suicide. I have contemplated it, but I have never taken any action to do so since that day.
The idea still creeps back in every once in a while. Sometimes it’ll happen when I’m driving and I’ll all of a sudden think about how easy it would be to simply veer into oncoming traffic, or drive off the side of the road. End the pain and the suffering and the negative thoughts once and for all. But as far as actually following through with it, I don’t have those urges anymore. Which is a step in the right direction.
I began to find solace in books and became incredibly introverted. It was also when I began to find solace in food. I gained a lot of weight, which led to more teasing, which led to more crying and hating myself. Since then, I have always struggled with my weight and my appearance. I’ve tried hiding my body because I am so ashamed of it – wearing baggy sweatshirts everywhere, even on the hottest days, not wearing bathing suits or revealing clothing – and I’ve taken drastic measures as well. There have been times I have starved myself, sometimes going a few days without eating, and times where I have physically made myself throw up after having a meal.
There have been times I have lashed out on my friends and my family for what I’m struggling with. There was even a period of time where I blamed them. I blamed God for my anguish and my struggles, cursing his name every time I felt low. I was confused and angry with Him for making me go through all of my struggles and for creating me this way.
I stem a lot of my insecurities and my depression from that time when I was bullied. I felt worthless for a chunk of my childhood, which has carried on into my adult life. I can’t remember ever being truly happy. Of course I’ve had moments over the years where I have enjoyed myself and have been surrounded by loving and supportive people, but my depression always finds a way to creep back in.
With my depression, I often feel low. I could be in a crowded room with all of my best friends, the energy in the room electrifying, and everyone is having a good time, but I feel withdrawn. I don’t have the energy to laugh, or to smile, or to even talk. I zone out and almost feel like I’m not actually in my body; like someone else is in here instead of me. I don’t feel like “myself” and feel numb, which is the scariest part for me. I don’t want to cry, or laugh, or do anything. I have a complete loss of emotion and sometimes it lasts for a few minutes, sometimes a few hours – even for a few weeks. Nothing can really bring me out of it, I usually just let it ride out. During these moments, I don’t even care enough to try to bring myself out of it. It’s when I’m back to “myself” that I realize how scary it was. When I start to feel this way, it often feels like I’m “slipping”. I can almost feel myself being physically pulled back, an act that is completely against my will.
Often when I feel really low, it’s when my self-deprecating thoughts decided to come out and play. One of the main components of my depression is the negative self-talk and feeling worthless or hopeless. I’ve always struggled with body and self-esteem issues, so these sort of negative thoughts are nothing new.
The majority of my negative self-talk includes things such as, I’m not good enough, or smart enough, no one actually likes me. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I feel like I’m always bothering people, no matter how many times people tell me I’m not, or that I’m always welcome. I often feel that my friends are only my friends because they feel sorry for me. I know that this is the depression and insecurity talking. I know that the negative thoughts I have are irrational, but I also know that, like other times before, I will get through it.
I have these thoughts on a fairly regular basis but when I am in my lows, they intensify. So much to the point that I lock myself in my room and refuse to have any social interaction with anybody, even my best friends, for fear that I may bother or inconvenience them. This is not a representation at all on my friends – I can wholeheartedly say that they are the most supportive, genuine, and caring people I have ever met and could ever ask for in a friend. A couple of them have battled, or are battling mental illness, so not only are they easy to talk to about whatever it is that I’m struggling with, they understand. They are able to validate what I’m feeling or thinking and don’t just shove my feelings aside, like people have done in the past. They make me feel welcome and that I have a place in this world. They make me feel like I matter.
Looking back on my life, I don’t know how I survived. I went through many dark phases in high school, reaching all time lows, even in the beginning of college, but the only thing that matters is that I came out on the other side alive. During my lowest points, I felt that no one cared. I felt that no one would ever care. I felt so alone in the world that I saw suicide as the only way out. As much as I have wished and prayed for these thoughts and feelings to go away, I know that I am stronger because of it. It has made my connection with God stronger and has led me to some amazing people.
My depression comes in waves – I have my low days, and I have my high days. I still struggle with my negative thoughts and with my body, but I’ve made it through worse times. I know I’ll make it through. Sometimes it seems easier to just shut yourself off from the rest of the world and view suicide as the only answer. But it’s not. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I have accepted that my depression is a part of me. I don’t like it, but I try my best not to beat myself up over the bad days.
My feelings are valid and I know that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
I never thought that I would have days without a negative thought. Or that I would have supportive friends and a boyfriend who are willing to help and listen and who care. I am about to enter my senior year of college. I’m alive. I am here to tell you that it gets better. As cliche as that sounds, it does. One day you are going to wake up and feel good. It may not last long at first, but those good moments will turn into good days, which will turn into good weeks, and so on. You are strong enough to fight this. You will find people who validate you and support you. You are not your mental illness.
You are worthy of love.
Thanks to Amanda for submitting. We’ve had a lot of submissions lately as the community continues to grow, and every new piece strengthens our voice as a whole. To contribute yourself find information on the “submit” page on the website.
Always remember you are not alone and you are loved.