National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Recovery for All: May 2012
The teenage years are probably the most difficult time period any one can go through. First puberty and then awareness of not only one’s self, but also of others and society in general starts to emerge. My teenage years started off on a good foot, starting high school with a new perspective—a new start to a whole new life. For a little while the new experience welcomed me with open arms, then reality hit.
Falling in love is never an easy thing or planned and at 15 years old, I experienced love. It was the most powerful feeling anyone could experience, when happiness can come from just a smile from the significant other. For over a year I worked hard to be there for the one I loved the most in the world, to be there when he was dealing with issues I would soon learn at a personal level.
We shared everything together, but one day a dreaded call came in that my first love had passed away. I soon found out that he took his own life, suicide. I can still feel the pain that took over my body, crying for hours then days on end for the loss of the person I loved the most in my life. Thoughts of death and emptiness consumed my mind.
For the following years, I battled with major depression, anxiety disorder, slight multi-personality disorder, and other mental illness diagnoses. I was no longer the same girl, addicted to pills such as Advil and Tylenol or anything I could get my hands on, addicted to pain itself with the help of cutting. These escapes, as I called them, helped me deal with the emptiness that I felt for days on end. The longing to feel something—no matter what the feeling was—became the only thing keeping me alive. Multiple times I was rushed to the hospital to get my stomach pumped and was on suicide watch for days. Suicide is not the way to deal with depression but the pain made it seem the only option for me and I attempted three times to take my own life.
It was a confusing and new thing to me and mostly my parents. They didn’t seem to understand why I cried for months or lost interest in everything that I did. Cultural differences between me and my parents played a big negative part in my recovery. They don’t know this, but most of my scars or hospital trips were because of the misunderstanding of what I was going through.
For three years I went to see a psychiatrist and took antidepressants but nothing really seemed to work. During the day I acted like everything was okay and that I was getting better, but at nights the temptations would appear and many nights I would cry myself to sleep.
I had to create the will to live and that’s when I began to recover. As senior year came along I decided to expand on my personal experience and create a support group for my senior project. Although it takes a lot for a support group to expand and start its process, I thought that even if the support group didn’t succeed, the message it sent to my peers and their parents would be better than nothing at all. For me, talking to friends and professionals helped greatly to handle the urges and sudden mood changes that I faced every day and that is why I chose to create such an outlet for other teens.
College was the best thing that had ever happened to me. It gave me hope that I could start a new life again with new people in a new city. Being away from the negativity of my hometown, I learned to push away my past and look forward to the future. Without college, I would not be here and now as a stronger person.
Mental illness can take over a person’s life, but if the individual has the will to live, one can overcome the many obstacles. Even to this day, I have urges that can be easily triggered, but I have found ways to calm myself and keep my mind positive. I thought life would never get better but now I could not be happier with being able to wake up and breathe the morning air.
There is always hope and a better start to a bad ending. Never give up—that is my motto—no matter how hard it gets things do get better. I hit rock bottom for years and ever since then there is nothing I cannot handle now. I became a stronger person from what I went through and anyone can do the same.
This story first appeared in the April 2012 NAMI Augusta (Ga.) Azalea newsletter, it is re-published here with permission from the author and edited for Recovery for All.