I have been hiding a part of me, trying to find the right moment to speak up. With some thought, I realized there is never a right moment, it just needs to come out.
I was constantly being told, "it's all in your head," when not feeling and acting my best. I guess that is the case most times. When you are upset about something, the more you stress about it, the more caught up in your head you will be. But for me it is different. I started to blame myself for the way I was feeling, but no one understood that I couldn't stop being all in my head, I was trapped.
I learned that it is possible to be prone to mental illness from birth and never be in a depressive state, or on the other hand, something in life can trigger it to prompt. For as long as I can remember, I have been silently combating anxiety, depression, and self-harm.
In 2008 I didn't know much. I was learning fractions and where babies came from. At the time my biggest worry should have been what flavour of ice cream I was going to snack on after class. In bed at 10 p.m. on a school night, I remember placing my cold hands on my chest as it caved in making it impossible for me to breathe. It is dark in my room and I already can't see much, but a wave of fog fuels my mind. At 12 years old, I had no idea what was happening to me. All I felt was what I would think the feeling of almost dying was. I would blindly walk over to the bathroom on numb feet, put my mouth under the tap and drink the water. It was a way to make sure my throat was open and everything was going to be okay... until the next time. My anxiety attacks went on for years, and at times I still experience them.
If I wasn't having attacks in my bed, it was in the most inconvenient places: a rush-hour subway, a club, or in the middle of class. There are times I have to run from my bedroom to the front door for fresh air because my throat is closing up. In these moments, I am thinking about nothing else but how to save myself. My mind tricks my body into thinking it is in danger, even in the most silent and random moments. The crazy thing about my anxiety is that I do not know when it will occur, and (most times) it is not triggered by anything. It just happens, and I can not control it.
I think growing up at the time with "something wrong with me", I did not want to talk about what was going on with me because of the stigma and the ill understanding towards it, but I wanted to take control of it.
In 2011, with frustration poisoning my blood, I started to act upon my feelings and try to cope. At this time, I was depressed. I tried to kill myself (more than enough times anyone should in their life) and would self-harm. This is not a trend (as social media was claiming at the time), this was my life and it was painful.
My floral fleece bed sheets swallow my body as I get in fetal position and breathe heavily. I can taste a salty tear streaming down my face, take the tip of my tiny scissors and cut my skin. I do not stop until I see red, feel a relief as my skin expands, and then instantly regret it while cleaning myself up. As graphic as it sounds, even for me today, that was the only way I could fall asleep when I was in my high depression. With all of this commotion going on in my head, it was shocking that no one noticed. No one questioned me or ever seemed concerned.
I couldn’t tell you why I was depressed, I just was. Although I would smile in public, I didn’t want to be in pictures, I would cry in the mirror everyday after school, getting out of bed each morning was painful, and I hated everything there was about my life. What was it about my life that I could not stand? I have family and friends who care about me, food on the table, an education, etc. But it is not something I can justify and just knock out of my head; not a state of mind, an illness.
I still have scars. I look down at my arms and think about the young, sad girl who was just screaming for help, but no sound ever came out. The girl who spent all of high school studying every flaw on her body. The girl who was stuck in her head, body numbed, thinking a permanent type of sadness was normal. I wish nothing like this upon anyone else and if I could go back, I would save myself sooner.
Sometimes it is sad but true, that you learn from your worst experiences. I appreciate life much more and am beyond grateful to actually feel alive. Today, I am aware of who I am. I was able to fix myself out of depression and self-harm. I do not have a self-saving remedy and did not get better over night, but I found my control and knew I could not live the way I was, forever. Not all of my friends or family know what I have gone through, and that was because I never wanted to put them through the stress I was feeling. Being mentally ill at a young age was difficult; it was my battle that I did not want anyone else to fight for me. It taught me to not say, "kill yourself" to hurt someone, or even as a joke. Ending your life or telling someone else to end their life is not a joke.
If you are feeling trapped in your mind, do not be afraid to speak to someone and ask for help. I wish I did.
I am just a regular person who has always smiled big on the outside but was living a completely difficult life in my dark room. You never know who is suffering alone and what someone is going through. Be conscious to how you treat others and the way you talk about mental health. I am proud to break the stigma today with #BellLetsTalk and finally share my story with whoever opens this page. Always remember you are not your illness and you are strong enough to take control over what is going on in your head.