I figured that it may be important for you all to know my story. I think to understand anything I share, you have to know the history. First thing I have to say is it has taken me a long time to get to a point in my life where I am completely open about my mental health and sharing my story. To me to continue living an honest life, I have to share my daily struggles as it will have a massive impact on my life. I also think to break the stigma around mental health and being ashamed of it, we have to talk about it openly. I’m not ashamed of the way my mind works and if sharing my story can help someone else break that pattern, I’m going for it. So here we go.
For as long as I remember, I have felt invisible. I never could understand why because I had a very good life. I had two loving parents, had everything a child could want and grew up on a tropical island. I mean what more could I have. But that didn’t stop the depression. I just always felt that I didn’t quite fit in. Something was off. During recess, I would sit on the playground and actually felt like no one saw me. I finally realized that I was depressed when I reached middle school.
When I was in 8th grade, my grandmother had to have surgery so my mom went to be with her and was gone for 2 months. That was the first moment where I felt truly sad. It just continued to amplify from there. My high school was interesting. First, it was a military base so there was only around 100 people in my high school if that. We all knew each other and we all knew each other’s business. It was an age where liking guys was a bigger deal and what people thought was important. However, I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about how I looked around guys or trying to impress people. I just wanted to be me. I was different. I wanted to just be goofy and fun and I wasn’t always in an environment where that was supported. I also didn’t like being pushed out of my comfort zone. It made me uncomfortable and it ended up isolating me. People stopped inviting me to hang out or would judge me for not wanting to do things. It was an interesting time in my life where I was just trying to find people who would like me for me. But I never really found that. I was usually a second choice. There were always people who were funnier, prettier, and cooler to be around. There was also a lot of pressure from my friends to try to be more than what I was and wanted to be. I just didn’t feel like I was wanted anywhere.
It was also a time where everything that I did was going to start counting, so I had a lot of pressure from my parents. It became where my parents, classmates and community expected a lot of me. I’m a smart girl so I had good grades and was advanced in some classes for my grade. I also played saxophone and did many things in and out of school with that. I also portrayed myself as a strong leader so I became a leader in most of the clubs I was in and did a lot of volunteer work. And I was performer. I did dance classes for different styles and sang a lot. I was usually known as the singer on island and worked with a lot of different people. Singing was always a huge outlet for me creatively so I was always singing. I guess sometimes it was too much for my parents who often made comments about how bad I sounded or how I needed to stop. They had such high expectations of me and I had to be good at everything. I was expected to be the top of all of school, sports, volunteering and there was now this expectation for me to look good. It was always “why can’t you put on makeup or try to look good” It became too much for me. I knew I wasn’t ever going to live up to those expectations no matter how hard I tried. I had all of this from friends and parents. I couldn’t wait to get off that island.
I had my first panic attack my junior year of high school. Everyone at my high school had caught a virus at a school dance so everyone was extremely sick. I hadn’t gotten sick yet and I was so scared I was going to. I freaked myself out so much that I thought I was getting sick because my stomach hurt and my heart was racing. I ran out of band class and went home. I ended up not being sick but I then knew I had a tendency for anxiety.
When I got to college, things started looking up. For a while, I was happy and everything was great. But things came back just as I knew they would. One night, I was with my friends cooking brownies and I set the oven to the wrong temperature so they weren’t ready. I knew it wasn’t a big deal but it felt like it. I broke down. It all went down hill from there. I started to have trouble eating. I couldn’t eat but two bites of a meal without having to throw up. I didn’t eat a significant meal for 6 months. After a trip to the emergency room and passing out at the beach, it was time for me to figure it out. What they found after months of testing is that it was my nerves in my stomach. My anxiety was manifesting itself physically. In the following years, I suffered from a severe depression as I haven’t been able to fully find sustainable friends and just felt out of place. Not to mention, I’m in my twenties, don’t want to know what I want to do with my life and my dating life is all over the place. I can’t always explain why but I just can’t seem to always shake it. My anxiety got progressively worse as I was having severe panic attacks usually once or twice a week. I started on anxiety medication but I still have anxiety. It comes and goes but I usually live my life in a constant state of what if and thinking people hate me.
Now, I’m living with mental health problems. My healing process has just begun. I started on a new regiment of medications to help me function every day without severe anxiety and depression. I am working on self confidence and staying true to myself. I’m starting to develop relationships that I hope I can sustain. Its still a new process but I’m hoping that sharing mine will show that you are not alone. So now you know my story, it might make more sense as I continue to move forward in the future. Even though my mental health problems may be with me for the rest of my life, I am not going to let it stop me. I’m going to keep on going and living a fulfilled life to the best of my ability. If you’ve read to here, I’m amazed. Thanks and stay tuned to see where life takes me next.