Mental illness is something I had been struggling with since I was 11. I had spent the entirety of my pre-teen and most of my teenage years hating myself, and as a result harming myself.
In 2004, I finally had a diagnosis: I have depression and anxiety. Not that the depression was a surprise – I just never went to a doctor previously so I had no official diagnosis. Anxiety, though, that was new. (But looking back, it makes total sense).
The doctors quickly put me on medication and I had weekly therapy and for two years that was enough.
And then one day, it wasn’t.
My mental health started deteriorating in August 2006, when I was 16. I didn’t want to die yet and I wasn’t hurting myself, it was just constant sadness.
In hindsight, I should’ve said something to my doctors – or my family or friends. Instead I didn’t say anything.
A few days before my 17th birthday something shifted. After being passively suicidal for a few years I became actively suicidal. (The difference being a fleeting thought and a constant thought with plans and wants of it).
And so, on Thursday evening, September 21, 2006, while sitting in the bleachers at Sherwood High School in Olney, Maryland surrounded by my best friends, a thought flickered across my mind.
And by halftime it was no longer a flicker, but a full blown flame: I’m going to die, I am going to end my life.
There was no real warning or reason as to why.
Four months later, on January 23, 2007, I checked myself into Sheppard Pratt and began the process of reclaiming control of my life.
What a difference twelve years makes.
Today at 29, I have been living with depression and anxiety for more than half my life, and I will live with them for the rest of my life.
Oh, and we can also add a full blown panic disorder to that list.
And I’m ok with it.
Years ago, I shied away from discussing mental illness or depression. Because I thought it was embarrassing and shameful that I felt that way.
The only embarrassing thing now is the way which some people talk about suicide and those who suffer with mental illness.
Today, I spent the day frolicking around Disney World. Taking in “long lost friends” at Magic Kingdom and grabbing drinks with friends at Epcot’s festival of the arts.
Cheers to living.