Struggling with Mental Health

Trigger Warnings: this article contains mentions of suicide, self-harm and depression.

I’ve been struggling with my mental health for as long as I can remember. I remember having very little self-worth growing up – a result of bullying in elementary school. I never felt like I fit in, never really found my place, not until the very end of high school. I remember being seven years old, staring into the mirror, crying and thinking that I didn’t deserve to live because of how I looked. Because I was fat. Because I perceived myself as unattractive. Because I didn’t look like the standard poster child.

I carried all of that with me throughout middle school. I always felt a little out of place – as if no one could hear what I was saying. I genuinely thought that if people knew what I was thinking – if I spoke – no one would even listen, and I’d lose the little friends that I had. I always thought that the friends that I had weren’t really friends with me for me. I thought that they wanted something else, someone else.

Middle school didn’t really help my mental health. It was that time when people were trying to understand who they were as people (a road a lot of us are still on), and that resulted in bullying. To fit in, you had to be a bully. Or you were bullied. A little while ago, I asked a friend why I wasn’t bullied, even though I was just as quiet as all of the girls that were, and she said it was because I had friends that would stick up for me. The funny thing is – I never felt like that at that time. I felt alone. I had reason to believe that I was alone, some things that up until this date I still don’t want to talk about.

During 2011, someone very close to me got very sick. I was the person who couldn’t handle any stressors. During the summer, I went to take care of her. There were many people crammed into a two-bedroom apartment, a place where everyone could feel everyone else’s pain. Somewhere in the middle of July, all of these suffocating feelings built up to the point that I couldn’t deal with it anymore – so I attempted to kill myself by jumping off the balcony.

I didn’t actually end up jumping.

But I remember the next day, brushing my teeth, thinking that I could have been dead right now. That’s when I realized that I didn’t really want to die. But I wanted to escape all of these negative feelings that I had.

I found my escape on April 6th, 2012. It was after a period when my then-best-friend and I were fighting. I felt like crap, because I almost lost all of my friends (who all took her side when we were fighting), didn’t get the school’s merit scholarships, nor nominated for student council. I started to cut myself.

And cutting was my escape from all of these negative emotions that I had. I would cut every time I fought with someone. Cut whenever I got a bad test score. Cut whenever my parents fought.

January 2013, I cut a little deeper than I intended, and couldn’t stop the bleeding for around thirty minutes. I started to get scared about it – so I told someone for the first time. The only responses I got were questions from him. After that, I tried to tell someone else, and I got the same response. The third person I went to help for slapped me when I told her about my self-harm. The fourth person used it as an excuse to start cutting himself. I didn’t realize what I was searching for when I started confiding in people – I know I didn’t want help, I honestly thought that what I was doing wasn’t wrong – but I wanted someone to tell me that things will be fine. And that they are there for me.

But instead, all I got were questions and reactions that made things worse.

Senior year came around and things got even more stressful. I could feel whatever grasp I had on my mental health just slipping away, until the day that I got my SAT results – October 23rd, 2014. I remember feeling nauseated and anxious the entire morning – up until I got my results. I remember sobbing on the white benches in our high school because my SAT results meant that I couldn’t get into MIT or Stanford. I remember not caring about anything at that point because I had failed. After school, I tried to resume my life – thinking the entire time that I’ll go home at the end of the day and numb my pain with a blade. I went to yoga, and aerobics, and had afternoon tea with my aunt and mom, and then came home. In the fifteen minutes that my mom was trying to get something from my aunt's apartment – I attempted to kill myself by cutting deep enough to slice through a vein.

After that, I freaked out, realizing that I didn’t want to die. I called my best friend, terrified, who told me to put pressure on it. I tried everything until I had no choice but to tell my mom, who took me to the ER. I spent the night in the ER – a night I would love to take back.

After that night, I stopped cutting. It wasn’t because of the near-death event. It wasn’t because of how scared my best friend was. It wasn’t for my parents. It wasn’t even for me. It was because, for the first time in two and a half years, I realized what I was doing because I saw it through a third person’s eye. The doctors in the ER were more freaked out (mentally) by my incident than by the guy who fell out of a truck.

So I came home from the ER, and the first thing that I did was throw out all of my blades. And up until this day, that is the singular, bravest, thing that I’ve done.

I didn’t admit that I was depressed or had anxiety issues until somewhere in December.

I wore shorts for the first time since I was in middle school in September 2016 – because the scars on my legs finally healed enough to not be noticeable (though, at this point, some might be permanent)

I didn’t seek help for my issues until April 2017, after I started to feel my depression creep back in – something that summertime and going home helped with.

Depression for me comes in waves now – small bursts triggered by the smallest of things. It’s still the same as when I was cutting, except now I try and do other things, like run or draw on my legs.

I struggled with mental health for years – but take it from me when I say that things get better. You’ll find friends that act as an actual support system, find your place in the world, lose it, and find it again. Sometimes you might need to tell people what you really want from them – a listening ear versus an advisor.

 

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