Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mental Health and Me

Today is #BellLetsTalk day, a day to become more aware of the mental health issues people live with every day and how we as a society can make it better. In honor of today, I'm going to post about a very difficult time that I struggled through which is still very difficult for me to talk about.

I am a survivor. At the age of 7-8, I felt like I wanted to die. A person close to me in my life in a position of trust who was supposed to love and care for me, didn't. Every time I did something wrong, I'd be left wondering "What's wrong with me? What more can I do to make them happy?". I began to see, or at least really believed, that I was to blame. I felt like there was something unlovable about me and I felt worthless. I felt like I had nothing of value to say or to contribute. I couldn't make a choice because I'd have to stop and analyze the "consequences" of each choice, whether it could possibly get me into any more trouble. I began to feel so paralyzed by wanting to make others happy and avoiding making any mistakes so that things wouldn't get any worse. I felt that if I were "perfect" that I could make others love me and that by being perfect it was the only way that people would ever possibly even like me. I was lonely, miserable and felt that if I wasn't here on Earth it wouldn't even matter.

It's been a long road back. The problem with mental health "problems" is that they're often complicated to treat and recovery takes time. There's no magic pill out there that's going to make me forget what it felt like to go through this. Reaching out to others, finding "spirit lifters" and focusing on getting to know who I am again have been the biggest key factors in my recovery. Despite the bullying at school that I continued to experience for a year or so after this, I slowly started to see that I had a choice to make: I could either let this experience define me negatively and either give up or turn into a bully myself, or I could use the experience as an example of what not to be. I figure I have a long life ahead of me, so I chose the positive choice.

Since this time, I've also been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yes, even a child can have PTSD. I can't handle negative confrontations really well without having a flashback. So sometimes when I'm playing multi-player online games and someone starts saying something bad to me, it can trigger the memories. I still feel this need to make my work perfect, but I'm also learning that mistakes are also learning experiences. And, most importantly, I no longer wake up dreading being alive each day. I know that I matter, I make a difference. I know that I'm here for a purpose; to be a change maker.

What would I say to another young person living with depression and thinking about death as an escape? Hold on and don't give up. Right now might be a really dark time, but even though you can't see it there is hope out there. There are kind people out there that are just waiting to meet you. Even when you feel that there is absolutely no one, it's not true; I care. I want you here on Earth because you can make a difference in someone else's life, you can share your story of survival.

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