Winning a Battle Over Depression and Anxiety: Sara’s Story

Author: Sara B.

Sara B's StoryWhen dealing with a mental illness, reaching out for help can be extremely taunting and hard.  I am sharing my story with you so that you can see how I went from hiding my pain to talking to others and searching for the correct treatment that could help me get better.  I am telling my story so that anyone else who is going through something similar may feel encouraged to get help themselves. 

Everything started sophomore year of high school for me.  I was constantly fighting with my parents, I didn’t feel close with any of my friends and I was doing terrible in school.  I had recently lost my grandmother, my cousin and my great-aunt as well. I lost the passion I had for dance, soccer and even baking.  I still can’t pick out any specific reason why this all began to happen, but I do know that this was the year that I began to isolate myself from the world instead of reaching out for help.  I felt alone, empty and lost.  This was something that I had never felt before.  Instead of encouraging myself to ask for help, I hated myself for letting this happen.  I continuously blamed myself for my depression. 

My mind would constantly be filled with thoughts like,

“I used to be so happy.  Everyone went to me if they needed someone to cheer them up. What had happened?” 

And

“What is wrong with me?” – a frequent question that I would ask myself but could never answer. 

I told myself that even if I could get help, I didn’t want it.  I thought that I was better off just keeping the issues to myself.  To me, I was doing everyone a favor if I didn’t try to have anyone deal with helping me get through my anxiety, my issue with self-harm, and my self-hatred for that matter.

***

Every day, I struggle with my anxiety disorder and my depression. I constantly am overthinking my relationships, my appearance and my choices.  I’ve been dealing with this for over two years now.  Even though I still have to go through the ups and downs of having a mental illness, I can’t let myself be defined by them. I used to do that.  People would see me as the happy person that was loud and extroverted.  I just saw myself as the girl that was empty and annoying, the girl that couldn’t control her anxiety or her panic attacks.

Sophomore year, I had resorted to harming myself – even though I knew deep down that what I was doing was not the answer; however, at the time, I thought I deserved it.  I felt as though everyone hated me and that I didn’t belong anywhere in this world.  When suicide became a frequent thought in my mind, and I had one failed suicide attempt under my belt, I realized that I could not handle it anymore.  It took everything I had, but I needed to get it out and tell someone what was going on. 

I reached out and told a couple of my closest friends at the time.  They helped me try to stop cutting, and they encouraged me to tell my parents.  Although all of this was extremely nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, it ended in me getting the help that has led to my progress.  I ended up talking to my mom and we looked into a therapist.  Therapy is a huge help for people that struggle with any type of issue.  It is just you and this one person that legally cannot say anything to anyone else unless you are in any danger.  You can feel comfortable talking to them because of this, plus you grow close with them over the months or years that you are with them.  That is what happened with me at least.  I am very close with my therapist; some sessions can be hard, but she understands and helps me.  Along with therapy, I have been looking into medication.  Even though it can take time to find the proper medication and dosage, it can make it easier for me to manage my anxiety.  Both of these things, along with support from family and friends, have helped me and can help anyone.

***

A couple of years later, I still struggle, I still experience relapses and my mind still sometimes goes to those negative places.  This happens though, but that doesn’t mean I can stop looking for ways to heal and get better.  Depression and anxiety, they aren’t who I am. But, they are things that I have to deal with.  Having a mental illness doesn’t make me weak. Rather, it makes me stronger. 

I used to let my mental illness be an impossible obstacle for me to overcome.  I wouldn’t leave my room, I insulted myself constantly and I would convince myself that it was wrong to open up to my friends, family and even my therapist.  But, these things were not true.  For anyone out there who is struggling, you must know that opening up is the best thing to do for yourself.  It isn’t easy, it may feel unnatural and uncomfortable, but it is what will get you help.

Fighting is hard; however, you need to just search for one thing or person that will make you push yourself to survive and get better.  I have to realize that the road to recovery is not easy whatsoever.  It takes time.  I have been seeing a therapist for over two years now, and I can still have sessions where I don’t get everything out even though I know I should. It may seem scary when you are going through this because a lot of things are coming at you; however, always remember that there are many treatment options for people that struggle with a mental illness.  That is why communication is so important.  You have to be honest in order to get the proper care.

***

Every day can be a battle, but I am glad that I made it to where I am now.  I went back to dance, I finished my senior year of high school strong and I am going to college to major in baking & pastry arts, things that I truly love.  I can still get down on myself, I can still have panic attacks, anxiety is still something that I have to deal with. But,  I have been given so many tips and resources that I know that I can and will get through this. 

I am not my mental illness. I am a strong, young woman who is willing to fight to get better. That goes for anyone who is dealing with any type of mental health issue.  It does get better with time and effort and persistence. Recovery is possible, and it will feel great when you look back and tell yourself that you got through it.

***

In the end, after seeing all of the people that offered a helping hand, I realized that it is better to reach out than to isolate.  Once I was in a better place, I wanted to get help, I wanted to be alive, and I wanted to be healthy. 

The same can go for anyone else dealing with any type of mental illness.  Reach out to people, friends, suicide hotlines, or any mental illness hotline for that matter.  Just know that you are never alone.  That is the message of my piece.  It is hard to share things like this, but it can lead to a long, happy and healthy life for anyone.

– Sara B.

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