Author: Valery B.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been living with the fear of giving up on myself. Personally, for me, that means losing sight of everything that I have always been passionate about and motivated to do: recovering from anorexia and bulimia, leading a successful campaign, graduating from high school with straight As, going to a top-notch university, and finding the people who I am meant to call my best friends and the person who I am meant to spend the rest of my life with. It suddenly seems like my life is tumbling down hill, and I have no control over it. My days are filled with lethargy, boredom and a hinderance to get anything done. My nights are filled with tears and panic attacks. I try to visualize my future but only see a brick wall that is impossible for me to climb over. It has been almost two weeks since I last went to school; episodes of depression, social anxiety, anger, frustration, and inappropriate eating habits cloud my judgement, and I cannot get myself out of the house – or even out of my bed. Nothing brings me joy anymore. Nothing can bring a smile to my face. I am sometimes cajoled by a warm shower or a good T.V. show; however, more so than not, I am in a deeply depressive state, a place where I am swimming amongst monsters in my head – monsters who are dictating my every emotion, thought, and behavior.
Every morning and every night, I question what my life has come to. If you asked me four years ago if I ever thought about depression, if I even knew what depression was, my answer would be No. I was oblivious to psychological illnesses and the pain that they brought. I never imagined people could suffer so immensely from emotional and mental wounds. Isn’t it true that the most painful things in life are broken bones or gunshot wounds or malignant tumors? These are physical monstrosities that millions of people experience on the daily. How could my mental conditions possibly be comparable to these physical pains?
There is a common misconception that mental and physical symptoms do not equate in severity; however, I would like to argue that they do. Physical symptoms are sometimes even easier to deal with, for they can be cured and eventually terminated. Mental symptoms, on the contrary, stay with a person for a very long time – possibly even a lifetime. A person can go to therapy, take medications, seek appropriate help. But, ultimately, he or she will have to battle with highs and lows every single day, for every single day brings its own challenges, some of them simple, while others insurmountable. I am taking a medical leave from high school now and am checking into a partial hospitalization program for depression and anxiety. Although my hopes for recovery are slim, I believe that receiving some form of treatment is better than letting my condition go untouched. Going onto college in several months and truly beginning my life, I want to give myself the best advantage to becoming successful and happy and healthy. I am aware that if I remain as mentally ill as I am today, none of my dreams and aspirations will materialize. I know that what I want most in life is to be successful, happy and healthy, to be able to work at my dream job, to have a loving husband and a beautiful family, and to feel like I am strong enough to tackle any obstacle. Mental illness is hindering me from achieving any of these things.
If you are someone who struggles with mental illness, I hope you know that help is always out there, no matter how tentative you are to receiving it. There are people who love and care and support you, who want to see you smile. I myself am struggling to believe this. For years, I have been going to a school that makes me feel like a stranger amongst my peers; I have been living in a home that engages in fights, screams, and tantrums; I have been lost in my own mind, unable to evade the pain that I have habitually felt for over six months. But, I know that this is my mental illness talking and putting thoughts in my mind. Depression, anxiety and the like are causing me to doubt the people around me. The illnesses are making me believe that the people closest to me are not doing “enough” to help me, that they are not giving me “enough” love, care, and support. This is not true, and as I start treatment next week, I am going to challenge these thoughts and instead rely on my own vision of what is going on around me. I am going to work on convincing myself that I am truly and unconditionally loved, that I have friends who care for me and who want to spend time with me, that I am still capable of graduating high school and going on to college.
In times like this, it is easy to give up, and I have to admit that I have currently given up. But, my life is not over yet, and I have time to improve. This goes for you as well, dear reader. There are and will be people who doubt me along my way, people who will think that my life will end in isolation, financial distress, and agony. But, I will not believe those people. Instead, I will believe in my strengths and talents and also in God, who I know is going to guide me through these difficult times. Dear reader, there is hope out there. There is always hope. No matter what you are going through, never lose sight of who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing. You may not be able to smile today or tomorrow or even the next day. But, in a month or two, you will be smiling. Have faith in yourself and never give up.