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You're Not Alone.
Let’s be clear; we all have some form of anxiety or depression. Whether that’s anxiety to wake up, take an exam, to go workout, or attend a family event. Although, cell phones these days have the most impact on teens in terms of causing anxiety and depression.
I am going to tell my story, and I wish for you to tell your story to someone if you haven’t already. I moved to Chicago about four years ago, when I was an incoming freshman, and started feeling small hits of anxiety during my Junior year of high school. I couldn’t quite put my finger on this anxiety, but it started hitting harder and harder. I was unaware of this feeling as it felt like a stranger to me. I have always been such a happy and healthy girl. My parents raised me to appreciate all that I have and to find the good from small things in life.
Junior year hit me hard. Keeping up with my social life, maintaining good grades, spending time with my family, attending extracurriculars, etc took a toll on me. What I realized I wasn’t doing enough of was self care. I didn’t have time to workout, take a bath, or just reflect on my day. I was so “go go go” as my mom says. I never had time to myself, what I call “T time”. I was suffocated in what I thought was an okay life, but what turned into me feeling like absolute hell. I’d come home, have mental breakdowns, wouldn’t feel hungry, couldn’t complete my homework, and would end up falling asleep way too late; which led me to missing school the following day.
After days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I finally went to the hospital. I came home from school one day and screamed “I can’t do this anymore”. With my mom being out of town, my dad felt responsible for my happiness and hated seeing me in pain. He did what any father would do which was calm me down and rush me to the clinic. The clinic later sent me to the hospital where I stayed for several hours. I ranted about my hopelessness in life and the feeling of “not wanting to live anymore”. I was exhausted from crying of pain that night. Typically when people admit to being suicidal, they demand you stay overnight. Although, my father had promised to keep me safe until I could see my therapist early in the morning.
The next morning I wait outside of my therapist, Sara’s, office and cry yet again. Meeting with her gave me some hope, but not enough. She recommended that I missed the next week of school to take a mental health break.
I stayed home that week reflecting; doing a lot of face masks, writing, talking, listening to music, sleeping, working out, while also completing my school work. I didn’t understand this feeling. I kept wondering why I felt so sad and why I couldn’t find happiness. It upset me more and more because I didn’t have answers to my own questions.
The week before I went back to school, I met with Sara again. My poor dad sat slumped over with his eyes half shut showing his weakness from the pain too. Sara had recommended a program called “Insight”. The program is specified to help teens whom struggle with anxiety and depression. Although, I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t imagine telling people that I was in a mental health program?! I didn’t want to wake up every morning knowing that I needed help. I wanted to be ok. I just wanted to feel happiness all over again.
My anxiety and depression was later diagnosed on a dangerously, serious level. It seemed to be mostly personal issues; always being anxious at school around friends, feeling like a failure in my studies, trying to be the perfect child, worrying about my body type and how I looked on the outside, and so much more. This was toxic, very toxic, especially for me. I was so harsh on myself, always judging my every move. I didn’t have the capability to say that ‘it’s okay’ for me to make mistakes. Everytime that I made a mistake, I hurt myself. There was a pattern here. I needed to be a perfectionist. But when those “needs” weren’t satisfied by myself, I hurt myself yet again; whether it be physically or emotionally. I finally gave in to this program called Insight.
I attended Insight 3 nights a week from 5:30 PM-8:30 PM. Thursday nights were family sessions, when my parents were able to come and show support. I met lots of people there, most of them I didn’t have much in common with. Although, we all had one thing in common; we needed medical attention of sorts. I realized a lot about myself and the society that we live in while I was there. I was able to experience other kids stories and why they were admitted to Insight. It made me realize that there are so many people experiencing exactly what I’m experiencing, and that I shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed because of it.
When you feel pain such as anxiety or depression, you feel as if it’s your fault. I kept telling myself that I’m a failure and that I don’t belong because of my “issues”. I later learned that they’re not issues. It’s half my brain chemistry, and half my personality. I just didn’t like that about my personality. So I did everything in my power to prevent the sadness to re approach again. I attended Insight for over 15 weeks. I eventually learned all of the basic skills and coping mechanisms to when I’m feeling emotionally ill.
I can now say how far I’ve come. I have supportive friends and family whom are aware of my disorder and they’re able to help me when I need it. Along with that, I know what’s best for ME and what I can do to prevent the sadness.
Everyday I see something different on the news about teens and the relationship that they have to mental illness. I reread them over and over and I witness kids whom seem addicted to their phones or this life of “perfection”. I do my best to reach out. I try to understand other people's feelings and thoughts. With that, I then take my own knowledge from personal experience and use it to help others.
My story is just one of many. There are loads of teens and adults whom have shared their stories about their own mental illness. Although, every story counts. I am so passionate about seeking help for myself and others and to say over and over that it’s OKAY. Needing help is okay; so I write my story to tell others that you’re not the only one suffering. I’ve been there too.