Depression has always been an unwelcomed friend. It’s isolating, it’s lonely, it’s cold. It fills your day with dread and invites you to take one too many days off from life. Depression has stolen time, money, happiness, friends and family from me.
I was 5 years old when I first felt sad all the time. I would hide in my room from my parents arguing and started to wind down the questions of “where’s Daddy?”. My room was my shelter filled with toys, crayons, and stickers. Those things couldn’t protect me from my mind. When I started being shuffled between one parent to another, that’s when I took a nose dive. I would cry and look at pictures of my mom and me together at the park, I would barricade myself into whatever room was deemed mine, and I would use toys as my amour when traveling making sure to bring as many as possible to recreate a sense of home. None of that shielded me. I was stressed, yet how does a kid know the words to tell their parents that? They didn’t understand anyways.
As my depression and anxiety mounted so did my coping skills, I developed Trichotillomania; I was literally ripping out my own hair from stress. My mother asked, “why are you picking so much?”. She would see my eyebrows dwindle down to twigs across my forehead and my curly hair would be in patches. Not until some research later on, that I realized this is a coping mechanism that many people face.
Not only did my physical appearence reflect my battered soul, but my diet soon my belly would be so upset that I couldn’t eat. Dinner was the battle ground between my anxiety and my Italian family pushing food down my throat. I would soon learn how conceal food in my cheeks like a hamster and then spit it into the garbage after so that I would be throwing it up later.
My pre-teen years only got worse. I was often bullied and teased on the school bus and on the school courtyard. From 6 AM to 4 PM my tormentors were only there to see me suffer. I had rumors spread about “why I was so quiet” to lunches thrown in my face to provoke some kind of noise from my silent mouth. What they didn’t realize was that I was screaming on the inside.
I reached a low when I was 12. Laying on an airmattress on the floor in my mother and stepfather’s house, I told my mother I wanted to die. She didn’t take it well, first expressing confusion, fustration, and then worry. The next 10 years would be spent in and out of the family therapist’s office.
In highschool, my depression and anxiety took a much needed hiatus. I was relitively happy. I threw myself into my school work, art classes, sports, working 2 part time jobs at once, and even traveling to Italy. I had a stable relationship and I felt for once that I was going to be okay.
My second year of college is when the depression and anxiety reared its ugly head once again. I had a new relationship which I picked away at like I used to do to my scalp, fearing that he would leave me and lie just as my father did. I didn’t foster as many friendships as I could of, fearing that they would reject me just as the awful kids on the school bus did. And I didn’t put my heart and soul into my art and schoolwork, I slept most of the day away. I eventually went on Zoloft, seeing no other way out other than living a hopeless exsistence, it worked almost too well.
The dreadful thoughts slowly disolved, my anger calmed from an lion’s roar to a kitten’s pur, and I could smile without the fake grin. As my happiness increased so did my weight… And then I made to choice to say goodbye to Zoloft to try to lose the 20 lbs I gained.
A year later, at the age of 23. I have lost more than half of the weight and learned more about myself in the process of leaving behind the comfort of an antidepressant. I have to confront my demons with a sword and shield in hand; I wake up every morning with a running start instead of climbing out of bed with a morose attitude. I set goals for each day, some are accomplished more easily than others. I take walks and appreciate the serentiy of what little nature I have in Boston. I appreciate my friends and family and tell them how much they mean to me as often as I can. And I do a lot of self reflecting to make sure the depression and anxiety are kept at bay.
Though don’t get me wrong; I have my good days and my bad days. It’s all about trying to have more good days. I am thankful to have the incite and understanding I now do about myself; its now more about winning the war over anxiety and depression with daily little victories.
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