Today I wanted to share my story in dealing with mental health, in hopes that it may help others who may have felt or been in similar situations. Or perhaps your situation is completely different! I think that truly is the beauty in life, our vast and small differences that shaped us in so many ways. I would love to hear your take on events and how you got through those difficult times and more importantly; I hope my story encourages you to look back at those times in your past that may have changed you, but never stopped you, and that is something to take pride in!
Trying to recall memories that feel so distant, but at the same time, so chaotic is a difficult thing to do. Add on the fact that generally, people don’t like writing about themselves. However, I will do my best!
I guess it would be appropriate to start with my childhood. I am sure I had one! and pictures and videos do exist of it! I just don’t have much memory of that time, and I always felt like this was a huge problem because that first decade is often considered the foundation of what makes you, well, you. Although I don’t remember the fine details in this hazy time period, I do remember a feeling of terror and uncertainty. A feeling that followed me to the memories I can recall.
The memories I do remember began at 12 years old. Now, my parents are not terrible people, and I truly am thankful and believe they did everything they could to give me a ‘wonderful’ life. However, I spent most of my years afraid of them, afraid of being rejected or judged. Now I’m sure they would love me no matter what, but at the time I was so deeply afraid of disappointing them. So, in a way of keeping them ‘proud,’ I blocked out most interests, hobbies, and likings that I kept tightly locked away. I never had a favorite show, movie, food, or anything like that. In fact, I did not even start listening and exploring music until I was 17 years old. As you can imagine, this makes life difficult, especially when you are in middle school or high school, when we are supposed to be figuring ourselves out and here I was; a simple reflection of whatever people wanted me to be. I developed the idea at a young age that no one could dislike you if you didn’t give them anything to dislike. Therefore, I liked nothing, I did nothing, and I became nothing.
This continued all throughout high school, causing me to isolate myself from pretty much everyone. I think that my lack of interest in things affected many of the friendships I made. It’s difficult to form connections with others at school when I felt like I didn’t have much in common with any of them. Or really anything much to offer in return. I was in the dark about the latest movies and things that teenagers liked and because of how strict my parents were I was never allowed to hang out. So I spent most of my time at home, just sitting in my room contemplating life and trying to understand what it was I was feeling.
I spent most of my time sitting in my room staring at the walls or ceilings, reveling in really negative and dark feelings of worthlessness and helplessness. When I share this with people they often find it hard to believe someone can spend most of their days sitting in an empty room, and I suppose that is understandable and I can’t really explain why I did this. At the time it just felt like the only thing I was capable of doing.
I have been dealing with depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive tendencies for 11 years now. I dealt with this on my own for a very long time, partially because I think that is what depression does. It isolated me, caused me to spend too much time trapped in my own head, blaming myself for what I was feeling. I thought that if I told anyone it would only cause more pain and that my feelings were not worth the trouble of mentioning. I felt ruined and empty. I just wanted to crawl away into a dark pit and wish everything away.
This caused me to turn to many methods of coping, creating habits that I’m not necessarily proud of but understand that at the time it was what I felt that I needed to survive. My depression consumed me and lead me to believe that this was all there was for me. This constant never ending suffering, simply because I felt that I was not good enough. It’s interesting, depression often makes you believe that you somehow deserve what is happening, or that it is somehow all your fault. “If I was only cooler, smarter, or more entertaining and better looking. Everything should be great! Right?” However, quite naturally, I just wanted it all to stop, turning to various forms of self-harm so that I could feel something different. This had gotten worse when I was 15 and decided to come out as gay to my parents.
They were not accepting at first and were determined to make the next two years of my life worse than I could imagine. Although it might seem a little dramatic looking back on it, coming out to my mother was not an easy thing to do. Part of me knew that my parents would not accept it but just didn’t care at that point. I wanted to feel something different and felt that coming out would do that. To be honest, I often felt like being gay was the only thing I really knew about myself. At this time I still had no other interest and often thought of myself as a space filler. I was not someone you wanted to be around but if you needed, say, someone to fill up a seat, or spot, I was you guy!
Anyway, when I came out to my mother it probably wasn’t the best timing as she was on her way to start a new job. When I told her, she broke down crying, walked away from me screaming “why”. I later found out that she did not go to the job, but instead sat in the parking lot and cried. Now I know this all sounds drastic and almost unbelievable but that was how it all went down. She said that I couldn’t be gay because I had not been 1. Sexually molested and 2. No other family member was gay. I wish I could say this is where it all stopped, but she spent the next two weeks locked in her room crying and not getting out of bed. She told me many awful things during this time, and I just took everything she had said. She had told me that she would rather have a son addicted to drugs, in a gang, or that had gotten someone pregnant. She said that my father would leave her and that the family would reject all of us. She then came up with some rules, firstly, she decided that I could be gay as long as I did not tell anyone, kept it to myself, did not have a boyfriend, and told all my friends that knew about my sexuality that I was just kidding, I was straight!
This was when things started to take a turn, I spent the next two months breaking down every night, crying myself to sleep. My mother had gotten even more strict and believed that being gay meant that I wanted to get aids and was sexually promiscuous, which lead her to do many random searches in my room and backpack. Eventually, I couldn’t take the crying and breaking down and turned to self-harm. I personally do not want to get too far into the details but I think I had been blocking out my emotions for so long that when I was suddenly hit with all of this guilt and resentment it was just so incredibly overwhelming. It was also during this time that I was having panic attacks quite regularly, which my mother attributes to being caused by ‘liking other boys’. My depression had also caused me to be physically ill every day and so I missed many days of school. In fact, I failed my sophomore year of high school and spend the next two summers making everything up! So this continued for two years before I turned to some other methods, such as emotional abuse. This was when I started to get involved with some pretty damaging people who were emotionally abusive. I think at that time I had gotten so tired of physical self-harm and just didn’t have the strength to do it anymore. So I had found others to do it for me.
It was doing this time that I was dating someone who I hated, and I am pretty sure he hated me. But for some reason, we stuck together. In hindsight, he was using me to get back at someone else, and really just wanted someone to hurt. I on the other hand just wanted to be hurt and treated how I felt I deserved to be treated. This went on for about four years. One of the reasons I think I had stayed with him for so long was simply because of the fact that he gave me a reason to feel depressed and quite honestly, he stuck around! And I felt that was a miracle within itself. I thought that my feelings needed to be justified and he gave me a reason to believe I really was useless. The fact that he stayed for so long also added some comfort. We hated each other, but he needed someone to hurt and I truly felt like I had found my purpose.
However, this all took a turn when he took advantage of the fact that he was all that I felt I had. Although he was destructive, I had trusted him. Then one night something happened, and I felt pressured to do something that I thought I had to go along with in order to keep him around. I prefer not to get into the details, but it showed me a new level of hurt, brokenness, and disgust that I had never felt for myself before. It had brought me to my breaking point, and it was that incident that caused me so much pain and fear that I never wanted to feel that way again. It’s almost as though to deal with the situation, I locked myself so far away into a new corridor within my mind. One that I never wanted to be in again. Simply because I didn’t think I could make it back.
It was after this that I started to make changes in my situation. I had stopped all forms of self-harm, removed all negative people from my life, and really tried to work on myself. I broke down to my parents about seeing a therapist, told them about my attempt of suicide, and that this was not a battle I could continue doing alone.
During this time, I explored many passions and worked towards figuring out who I was. I often felt like I was just trying to catch up to my peers, and I often still feel that way.
I would like to get into this journey and my thoughts and opinions on therapy and medication. However, I just realized how long this post is! Perhaps that will be something for a later date.
However, to end on a positive note I would like to say for anyone dealing with their own internal battles that you do not deserve to go through this alone, and knowing when to reach out for support takes tremendous courage. If something is important to you, or if you feel is negatively affecting you then it is worth talking about. I know my experiences above sound short and simple, as though turning my situation around happened almost overnight, but that was not the case. It was a constant uphill battle that I did not do alone. When you are ready, and when you want to take some steps in a different direction I hope you can acknowledge those accomplishments and all that you have gotten through since. Although you may not think it to be true, you are stronger than you think and any step towards becoming the person you want to be, that you could feel some sense of pride in is worth the journey.
If reaching out for support sounds like something you are considering, I would like to share a few resources below that may be beneficial.
Crisis text line;
Text home to 741741 anywhere in the US, about any type of crisis.
It is anonymous and provides trained counselors to speak to.
Is also a beneficial website that can provide many resources such as finding a therapist, or information on housing, financial, and clinical support.
Or Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
This is only a few, but please feel free to comment any others that you know of that have and can be useful. I would love to hear your stories and journey towards self-improvement.