by: Anonymous author
I remember being younger and clinging to my mother at social events because I was so anxious. I would get a stomach ache whenever she would drop me off at school or at a social function. This began at the age of eight and I still deal with anxiety today. From a young age this chemical imbalance in my brain made me feel inadequate and scared. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I decided to finally tell my mother how I felt, and I broke down crying and said that I needed help. In high school, I was so anxious all of the time that I barely spoke in class and going to school was unbearable. Imagine the anxiety that you feel before a big test, or something that you are very nervous about. Sure, that may be a temporary feeling for some, but for me it was constant and I could not turn it off. That constant feeling caused me to miss school dances, events, games, and many other social gatherings during my teenage years. I felt so ashamed of myself. I thought, “How could I let this stupid disorder take away my teenage years.” When I told my mother how I felt, I was taken to the doctor and started treating my anxiety with medication which helped immensely. As soon as I started to control my anxiety, things turned around completely. I began having fun my senior year of high school, went to the gym and lost a ton of weight that I had gained from hiding in my bedroom all of the time, and I began hanging out with friends and actually went to the homecoming and prom dances. It was finally then that I had realized that I had taken control of MY life and this chemical imbalance in my brain was not going to take away my life any longer. I think that the main thing to do is recognize it, treat it, and not be ashamed of it.
However, this wasn’t the end of the battle for me. When I graduated high school, I was on my way to college in the fall and I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent the summer on the beaches in San Diego, traveling, and getting ready to start college. Once I started my classes at the university, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of work I had. I had always had good grades, and I was sure that it would be okay but I also was terrified at the same time. As the weeks went by, I was so consumed with schoolwork and a part time job that I began to gain weight again, and I stopped caring about myself. I was always the one to get dressed up and ready for the day, but now I was completely neglecting myself and my health. This is when my depression began. I resorted to hiding out in my bedroom, not caring about my appearance, and ignoring everyone around me. I lost so many friends because I simply would not feel like answering the phone when they called, or let alone go out somewhere. There were only a few of my close friends who understood what I was going through, but others were just quick to stop talking to me altogether. I became almost unrecognizable. I had gained over 50 pounds and was not even the same person anymore. Every time I tried to help myself and get better, I decided that it was more important to immerse myself in an insane amount of schoolwork to get good grades. I was completely neglecting myself and I had no idea if I would ever be the same again. I can not tell you how many different medications I have tried at my young age for depression. All of these medications of course had different side effects. I started gaining even more weight on some, I began feeling even worse on others, and I felt like I was completely spiraling out of control.
I felt pathetic. How could I let this change my life so much. I would show up to family gatherings and could feel the eyes on me and people wondering why I gained so much weight. As college went on, I decided that I needed to finish and not let this ruin my plans of a college education. I pushed through it, and with the help of my best friend and family I was okay and stable and graduated. As time went on and I slowed down on pushing myself to work so hard and I began to focus on my health, I felt better. Slowly but surely, I was going back to normal and deciding that it was important to recognize how I felt and to treat it. It’s never easy to tell somebody that you deal with depression and anxiety. I feel like there is so much stigma regarding mental health. Some people are completely embarrassed to even tell close friends and family that they need help. The most important thing for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue is SUPPORT. The worst thing is the stigma that goes along with it. It is hard enough to deal with a mental health issue, but society makes it even harder when we have so much stigma surrounding it. I learned to not be ashamed. I decide to keep it a private matter since it is my health, but those close to me know that I deal with it and help and support me. I urge anyone who is suffering to seek help and support because you are not alone, and I urge those to make fun of mental health issues or those who don’t take them seriously to stop the stigma and to help those who may be suffering because a single sign of support and encouragement could change their lives.