“When Good Grades Aren’t Enough: Mental Illness, Stress, and My Sexual Identity” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 15

Growing up I was taught at a very young age the only way to become successful was to earn a 4.0 GPA. A high GPA meant acceptance into the best universities across the country. So I pushed myself to earn nothing but the best grades so I wouldn’t disappoint my parents. Year after year I continued to beat myself up if I received anything less than an A. But then something happened that would change my life forever.

My mom had a psychotic break.


Jacquelyn (Pictured far left), her siblings, and mother (Far right).

She was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. Witnessing the acts of mania my mom exhibited scared me – she did things that I thought only a “crazy” person would do. My mom was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for months on and off for a whole year. I was 13 at the time and remembered absolutely dreading going to visit her. Everything was locked and I thought that the patients were treated like prisoners. My mom’s doctors even made me sit in a conference with my mom and her psychiatrist asking if I wanted my mom to get better. That to me was scarring – of course I wanted her to get better but not in a place like a psychiatric ward.

It was all too much for me to handle.

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“Being a Twin With Anxiety: My Challenge With Isolation and Inadequacy” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 14

Anyone can be lonely.

Even those with all the friends in the world can still feel like they are all alone amongst the sea of friends in a group. A lot of the time, that’s just how I feel – kinda like the smallest fish in a school of fish – there, but not really noticed. Hell, I came into this world with a built in best friend who looks like me, and I still feel alone more often than not.

It’s been like this since around the time I started middle school. It’s gotten much better over the years, but I feel like I have not been able to shake this feeling. Looking back now, I can see just how stupid I was for letting little things that didn’t matter affect me as much as they did. But back then they were anything but little things.

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“Recovered and Still Struggling: Living Life Post ED” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 13

Is that really all you’re eating?” is a phrase I’ve been asked countless times. I think no matter how old I am, or where I go, this question will always cause my face to turn red.

Having an eating disorder (ED) can be pretty confusing to those who haven’t experienced one before. When you have one, regardless of its severity, you live in a constant state of self-judgment. Every move you make is monitored by your brain. Whether it’s choosing something to wear, what you are eating, or going into a public place, you are constantly on alert of what you look like to others.

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“Finding Worth: A Story of Losing Something I Never Lost” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 12

So basically, this story might bore you. To be blunt, I’ve never felt suicidal, I’ve never messed with drugs or alcohol, I’ve never even thought about writing out my story until I realized that all pain is pain. Everyone struggles with it differently and everyone has different ways of coping with it. This story is for the people who feel like they have no story to share.

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“Navigating The Fog, My Journey To Accepting My Depression” – Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 11

I don’t really know how or why it all started. I can barely remember when it even started. I was so confused as to why this was happening, but for some reason it did. And now, here I am.

I didn’t understand why I could possibly be feeling this way.

Nothing was wrong in my life, after all.


Before, and even during my depressive episodes, I always thought that depression could only happen after some sort of serious traumatic event. But that’s not the case. I could go on and on about the stigma of mental illness, but that’s another story that could be discussed forever. The stigma, and the belief that depression isn’t something that just happens, prevented me from getting the help that I needed. For years, I beat myself up over feeling depressed and being suicidal. I told myself that I should just suck it up. After all, I had no reason to feel that way, right?. I lived in a stable household. I went on frequent trips to incredible places. I went to private school and had lots of friends. I had more than enough opportunities to do whatever I wanted. So why did I feel so hollow and numb, with my only desire being to kill myself?

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Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 10 – “Guilt, Shame, and Hope”

Dear Hope,

I want to share some of my experience with depression and how I’ve coped with it.  I write constantly, but rarely for a purpose or to an audience, so I hope whoever is reading this will be forgiving.  I’m not an expert – but I am a survivor.


Depression takes many shapes and forms, and your experience will be unique.   Personally, I would describe it as my worst enemy, one that wants only my destruction.  I first experienced depression when I was 8 years old and being bullied at school non-stop.  I would sit on the roof of my childhood home, stare at the pavement, and long for death.  Back then, I didn’t fit in anywhere.  I felt worthless.  I thought that if I died, no one would care except my parents and my one (1) friend, who saved me from myself for about a decade without ever knowing I was depressed, just by being there.  I don’t talk to her enough now, we grew up and apart, but she always picks up the phone when I call.  I’ve learned there aren’t many people in the world like that, but that there are some people in the world like that. And I’m lucky to know one.

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Coping: This is Who We Are Entry 9: Depression & Belonging

“You need to develop a tougher skin,”

“You’re such a cry-baby,”

“You’re too sensitive,”

These are the phrases that come to mind when I look back on my childhood. Everyone-parents, teachers, classmates, cousins, aunts and uncles-told me these things. I’ve heard it spoken maliciously by my peers, exhaustively by my elders, and concernedly by my loved ones. Regardless of intention, every instance in which it has been said to me carried with it a negative connation. “Sensitive” was used to convey a defect in my personality that needed to be fixed. Being told to “toughen up” was a way of signifying that how I felt was somehow my fault. No one ever considered the possibility that this trait was beyond anyone’s control, especially my own.

I have suffered from depression and anxiety since as early as I can remember. Feelings of hopelessness, despair, and guilt plagued my childhood. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy like other kids, or why there was seemingly no one who understood where I was coming from. I desperately wanted to fit in and yet, it felt like the harder that I tried the less I was accepted. Even amongst my family I struggled to find support. I was excluded from activities, stolen from, yelled at, and told that I was ugly by my cousins. My aunts and uncles did nothing to alleviate my situation instead choosing to further bully, wrongfully blame, punish, and exclude me. These people-the ones I was most frequently surrounded by-only exacerbated my illness, leading to deep-rooted complexes and insecurities that I continue to struggle with.

By the summer of my thirteenth year I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and major depressive disorder. I’d gotten to the point where all I could physically handle was laying on the couch to watch television. Thankfully, my mother realized the severity of my state and sought psychiatric and therapeutic help for me. Things got better slowly: my shyness receded somewhat and I gained a better control of my sobbing episodes. But even then, it took me several years to truly understand exactly what it was I was suffering from.

As I moved onto middle and high school, I had realized that being “popular” (both in and out of school) was out of the question for me, so I opted for a new solution: romance. Romantic T.V. shows, movies, and books had all led me to believe that having a boyfriend would somehow fix me. I vividly remember daydreaming during class about what it would be like to be in love. I saw it as a means of proving that there was hope for me, that I wasn’t completely undesirable. So during my sophomore year when I discovered that a boy (that I hardly knew) liked me, I made it a mission to be with him.

At first, our relationship was everything I’d ever dreamed of. Kissing in the rain, holding hands, cuddling…it was a fairy tale come to life. However, deep down I knew from the start that we weren’t good for each other. I’d imagined his identity before actually meeting him in person and I think he knew that. He tried to keep up with me for a long while but, he couldn’t do it forever.  Eventually, he began lying to me, neglecting me, and using drugs*. Deep down, I knew these things were happening but I was in denial. I continued taking the blame for his poor behavior because I believed that I didn’t deserve better. I’d spent so much time seeking validation from him that I’d lost any sense of my own value.

* I’m not saying using drugs/being a drug addict makes someone a bad person, but rather that his drug use affected his mental health negatively.

Eventually, I went away to college and our relationship completely fell apart. It was already rocky before I left but, I simply figured that we’d get through it because we loved each other. Once I was actually gone however, he began feeding me preposterous lies to cover up what he was doing behind my back. Many nights I’d stay up late fighting with him on the phone until he eventually stopped contacting me. He was ignoring me because he wanted to leave me and I couldn’t handle it.

In retrospect, it’s funny how my break-down coincided with a hurricane-also sharing my nickname-as if the weather was predicting my inevitable downfall. The week prior to the storm I hardly ate, spoke to anyone, or slept. I would spend countless hours in my dorm room alone, yelling at the ceiling as I sobbed my heart out. During the day I walked around campus like a zombie, feeling as if there was nothing left to live for. I had experienced low points before but, never like this. I was quickly withering away and I needed help.

The following eight months involved dropping out of college, a short stay at a psych ward, and another desperate attempt at mending my broken relationship. If it weren’t for my parents and my dad’s side of the family, I don’t know how I would have survived. They encouraged me to get a job, take my medications, be open and honest about my feelings, and to leave the toxic relationship I was in. Their patience and empathy taught me that I was deserving of loyalty, honesty, and genuine love. Without them I might not have made it and I can never repay them for my life.

Despite all my progress since then, I would be lying if I said I was no longer suffering from depression and anxiety. I continue to make mistakes, relapse into old habits, and learn about my illness. Mental illness is a life-long struggle and every day is a new challenge to rise above my disease. I have found that the best way to achieve stability is also the most painful, difficult way: I had to step out of my comfort zone. By working in retail, going back to school, and trying new things (like exercise, hanging out with coworkers, volunteering, etc.) I have healed immensely. Of course, some days are great and some are unbearable. But, coping in this way is what helps me to live a relatively normal, healthy life. It is only in overcoming my fears that I have begun to heal from the damage my illness has caused me.

Three and a half years have gone by since I crashed and burned that fall semester at college. My anger with my ex has mostly turned into sympathy for him and his struggles; my resentment of my mom’s side of the family remains but, I’m slowly learning to forgive them. In doing so I have blossomed into a much stronger person who has been able to succeed in both work and school. I no longer allow others to belittle me or my feelings; I have successfully surrounded myself with an amazing support system of coworkers, family, and friends.  And although not everything is okay-in fact, a lot of my life isn’t-I know that I will be. I now see the value in myself that has always been there. I am worthy of goodness, love, and happiness regardless of others opinions or treatment of me

I urge everyone who struggles with mental illness to reach out for help like I have. It will change your life in incredible ways. It won’t be easy but it’s truly worth it.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health or mental illness? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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“Speak Up, Speak Loud: You Are Not Alone In Your Abuse” – Coping This Is Who We Are: Entry 8

I have spent my entire life being ashamed of who I am and what happened to me. I spent my life feeling constantly ashamed and at fault. I spent my life not being able to trust anyone around me. I hid what happened to me to protect other people, even the person who hurt me. I would never wish my life on anyone, or want anyone to have to deal with what I have gone through and continue to on a day to day basis.

So here is my story. Hopefully it can help someone else to not feel the same way I do.


When I was five and six years old, I was abused. Mentally and sexually. The abuser? The person who was supposed to be my “father”. I was told constantly to never say a word to anyone about anything that he did. Being as young as I was I did what I was brought up to do: listen to adults and do what they say. At the time I didn’t understand what exactly was going on, but as I got older, I understood more and more about what was actually going on.

I realized how badly I was actually abused.

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Coping: This is Who We Are – Entry 7 “Surviving The Specter”

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is a transparent account of my life with clinical depression and suicide. If this is a trigger for you, please do not read it at this time.

This piece comes from my great friend, Chris, who I have made acquaintances through this website. This piece is one of the best submissions I’ve ever had. and is incredibly powerful and insightful. Lengthy, as many of the coping pieces are, but ultimately moving.

My History

My name is Chris and I’ve survived with severe depression for about 30 years.

Last year I hanged myself.

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I was diagnosed with clinical depression several years ago.

Not the kind that makes you feel sad after your girlfriend breaks up with you, or explains why you feel under the weather when the weather is under.

No, this is much blacker than that.

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How My Depression Made Me Who I Am: Coping Entry 1.5

Growing up my father used to ask me almost daily what my life story was. To make conversation sometimes on the phone or at the dinner table, in bouts of silence, he would shout “So son, tell me your life story!” which in turn would prompt me to say: “My life story? It’s nothing special.”

And now 21 years later I realize I never once honestly answered his question. Granted he knew most of my life, I never told him the story from my point of view.

I never answered the question for him, or myself, the one thing that truly matters;

Who am I?

To answer this I think I have to start as early as I can remember.

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