Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anxiety, depression, psychosis, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide.
I have always been known as the kind, happy girl from the time I was little. I grew up in a loving, caring household with two amazing parents and a younger sister. We have always been a family of faith which has always been a huge part of my life. All through elementary school and the sixth grade, I was a good student, always getting good grades and very social.
Everything changed when I was 13 and entered the seventh grade. I began to struggle severely with severe anxiety and panic attacks. It morphed into severe depression very quickly. Life became a nightmare. I started to hear voices telling me terrible things about myself and my life. I was filled with terrifying emotions and I had no idea what was happening to me. I barely knew what depression or anxiety even was at the time. I told nobody about what I was feeling because I didn't even know how to describe what I was experiencing.
After only a short month or so of feeling what I was feeling, I didn't want to live anymore. So, on November 16th, 2016, I tried to take my life. Thankfully, I was stopped. I ended up being diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and severe depression with psychosis. I had four inpatient hospital stays in total. Later, I struggled with self-harm, which became a huge monster I had to overcome. I am proud to say I haven't self-harmed in about four years. Without my faith and my mum, I don't think I would be here today writing this.
Today, I am 19 years old. I see my therapist regularly and I have to take medication every day, and more than likely for the rest of my life. I still struggle and go through rough patches sometimes, but overall I am doing worlds better. I'm living life to the fullest. I am moving to Florida soon, and I'm going to college in the fall. Through my past experiences and current struggles, my goal is to help others who live with a mental illness as I do. My goal is to become a public speaker and to share my testimony of loss, pain, hope and healing. When I was 14 years old I started a non-profit organization called 'Gifts of Hope.’ What we do is give gifts to kids and teens who are currently staying in inpatient psychiatric units like I once did. My goal is to help the kids and teens feel loved, noticed, and appreciated. I want to continue to grow my non-profit to continue to help others and be a mental health advocate.
I realise now more than ever (especially in today's world) that life can easily be taken away too early by this terrible disease. I view life as a gift.
Some things that really helped me during my darkest days (and still today) are:
Being around people. Don't isolate yourself especially if you are feeling down (this helps so you don't spiral)
Being open about how you're really feeling
Dancing (or doing something that you enjoy doing)
Do things to distract yourself from your emotions (like using fidgets, colouring, or doing something calming)
Be honest about how you're really feeling and ask for help. I wish that I would have done that when I was struggling. It would have saved me so much pain and heartache. I know how hard it can be to seek help. Trust me, I know. I still struggle with this. But when you bring the pain and the darkness you feel to the light, it can't work in the dark anymore. It can't fester. You may feel so weak when you think of getting help or that you will be a burden if you do so, but the truth is that's the bravest thing you could do. I know it feels impossible but you are stronger than you think. Remember, you are not alone. Please hold on because pain ends.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!