Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spiraling Downhill: My Story

The word depression causes so many people to think unstable, suicidal, crazy, insane. It did to me especially when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the beginning of my freshman year of high school. I felt like something was so wrong with me. I was crazy. If people found out they would think I was a loser, weird and above all not normal.

As a child I was always, very particular about almost everything. In sports, school and in life I pushed myself to try to be perfect and when I was unsuccessful I would continuous cry, doubt myself and consider myself a failure. I believed that I simply was pushing myself to be all that I could be. In a way, I was but I was also driving myself crazy because the perfection I long for was impossible to accomplish.

Freshman year was a difficult year. I knew no one at the school. I had difficulty making friends and finding someone I fit in with. About half way through the year, I developed bulimia. A lot of my friends noticed that was bulimic but no one ever confronted me or told anyone. My bulimia then turned into anorexia. I refused to eat and often told people that I had eaten a big meal before hand and just wasn't hungry. After awhile my mother realized what was happening to me and with my primary care doctor decided I should see a nutritionist. My school never knew about my condition until my mother told them in hopes that they could provide some type of support system for me. They simply explained that they weren't able to deal with "these" type of problems and were unsure of how to help me.

The summer leading into my sophomore year is where I decided to turn towards alcohol and drugs. Of course many of my friends were also experimenting with this, I took it to a whole new level. At parties I would drink until I blacked out and my friends would often have to explain to me what happened in the morning. I experimented with marijuana but I was mainly interested in alcohol. It seemed that whenever I started to drink I just didn't stop until I pasted out. During the times that I blacked out I would do things without any conscious of doing them and I was frequently taken advantage of at these times. My friends all thought that I was coherent and knew what I was doing. At the beginning of my junior year, I attempted to commit suicide using alcohol and pills. I spent only a week in a psychiatric ward where I was told that I was an alcoholic.

When I returned to school, they were skeptical about allowing me to attend there. They kept a close eye on me and often reminded my mother that they were not "psychiatrists" and that they were unable to deal with my condition. On a particularly difficult day at school, I felt that I had no one to talk to. I felt nobody would understand what I was going through and that no one would listen to me. I decided to leave school and go home without telling anyone. I found out that when I had left, the school called the police. When I returned to school, they explained that they would be asking me to leave because they felt that I was a liability to the school and they were unable to provide the environment and the support I needed.
My drinking slowed but I still attended parties and occasionally drank until I passed out. Later in my junior year I was involved in several crimes and was arrested. The day I had to stand before the judge in handcuffs and shackles was a day of awakening. The judge told me that I was no longer a child and that I would be tried as an adult. I looked over and saw my mom crying and I realized that I couldn't put her through this. I realized that I was throwing my life away and the only way I could turn it around was if I helped myself and pulled myself up. My mom and I have been a great team. She is great at understanding what I am going through and she is an excellent support system. I recently graduated high school and am planning on attending college.

I was extremely fortunate to have my mother in my life. She was more understanding than I could ever have expected. I know plenty of kids who have experienced similar things to what I have and some are not fortunate to get the help they need. Many do not have the support systems that they require and often never receive the help and guidance that they need. School was one of the most difficult places for me to be because nobody understood what I was going through there. I hope that support systems can be placed in schools so kids can get the help they need so that they can grow and develop in life. We need to help strengthen our youth instead of sweeping these issues under a carpet. We need to learn to face and deal with our problems. I believe educating children about mental health issues can only help those suffering from them. All of us have problems just some of us hide them better; but we all need help.

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