I’m going to title this blog post “My Before” because the adventure of life I’m on now is vastly different from the chore of living I did up until a year ago. My life before I made the decision to make it an adventure was miserable. I want to tell the story of my life before, so I can use the rest of this blog to tell the story of my happily ever after.
I was depressed for as long as I can remember. I know that may seem odd and when I tell people this they often ask, “Well, what about when you were a young kid?”, and I have to reply with, “Yes, even then”. I was always polite and quiet. I smiled and laughed when I was supposed to, but I never really felt happy. After years of this I started to feel like all of my smiles were fake.
I was thirteen years old when I first attempted suicide, and I was fourteen when I started cutting. My junior year of high school was very stressful. I was taking calculus, college biology, and college english, and I was in jazz choir, madrigal choir, science bowl, and secretary of the honors club. In other words I didn’t seem like the type to cut or attempt suicide, but I did have a lot to stress about. It was a lot to handle, and because of my perfectionist mentality I beat myself up when I, understandably, couldn’t keep up with all of it.
I was cracking under all the pressure I had put myself under, and I attempted suicide again when I was fifteen. After that it was all a blur. I was taken out of public school and entered a home school where I only met up with a teacher once a week. I didn’t hang out with friends or go out to talk to people. I only ever left the house to go to therapy or school, and I felt like I was my family’s dark secret. To this day there are old friends of mine and even members of my own family who have no idea what happened to me. I simply disappeared. I felt like it was all a punishment rather than people trying to help me. I was over medicated and barely able to think, but I was still vaguely aware that I was depressed. It went on like that for three years.
When I was eighteen, I started to wake up out of the fog. At that point I hadn’t attempted suicide or cut in years, but I was still depressed. The side effects of my medication were seriously affecting my health. I gained over fifty pounds on the medication which was bad enough, but the very last straw was when one of the medications reacted so poorly with my body that I started to lose my eyesight. After that my family and I decided that it would be best if I went off of my medication. We knew the risks of detoxing off of them all at once, but the way we saw it the risk of me losing my sight was far greater. Detoxing off of them was one of the most difficult things I have done to date, but I got through it. For a few days I was sick, miserable, and couldn’t get out of bed, but after that I started to feel better.
I had worked with therapists who had been teaching me how to cope with my depression for over three years, and I finally started to utilize those coping skills. Those skills helped me recover fairly quickly after going off of medication. I started going outdoors again and talking to people. To someone who has never isolated themselves because of depression that may not sound like a big deal, but to me it meant everything. For 3 years I had hid myself from the rest of the world in shame and fear, but I was finally comfortable enough to do simple tasks like go to the grocery store.
A few months later I moved out of my mother’s house and into a house with some roommates. Moving out had its own challenges which were difficult to cope with. Yet, I didn’t have the urge to give up like I used to. I started making friends with some of my roommates, and they urged me to join a dating website they were already a part of. A few weeks later I met the love of my life, Logan, who has taken me on the most thrilling adventures I could ever imagine.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I decided to embrace life: maybe it was when I decided to quit cutting, maybe it was after I detoxed from the medication, maybe it was after I moved out, maybe it was after I met Logan. However, when I made the decision doesn’t matter; what does matter is, no matter how long it took me, I did make the decision that even if life is difficult if I look at it like a journey, an adventure it can be enjoyable. Without that mentality I could have been dead by now or worse wishing I was dead.
I don’t mean to say that the answers to all of my problems were to simply get over them or that my decision to actually live life cured my depression. I don’t even mean to say that deciding to live means I don’t have some days where I want to die. What I am saying is that it sure as hell made those days easier to get through, and it made me realize that those days are worth living through.