My struggle with depression and self harm began at 13 years old, and since then I have worn my story on my body. And for so many years, I wore it with shame.
At 16 years old, my addiction to self harm had grown out of control and it was my first experience with suicidal thoughts. I was forced into treatment. During that time when I needed support the most, all I felt was the shame of my family. The questions of “how could I do this to THEM?”, “what would other people think about us?” were constantly flooding my mind. I was ashamed because I felt I was weak.
At 19 years old I ran an old friend and she noticed the scars on my wrists and she said “you’re still doing that? i thought you would grow out of it.” Instantly I felt ashamed that I was still struggling, as if mental illness could be “just a phase”, as if depression could be something I could just shake off and I wasn’t strong enough to do so for so long.
At 22 I found myself once again standing on the edge of choosing death over life. Depression gripped me tightly. The razor brought me relief from constant mental turmoil, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted my life to end.
Thankfully it didn’t.
The road to recovery hasn’t always been an easy one. It has been filled with many highs and lows. Many setbacks, but i keep moving forward. I am more than depression. I am more than addiction. I am more than self injury.
My life is a bright beautiful reminder that the dark times do not last forever. Eventually, the sun begins to shine through. Through the cracks and crevices of that brokenness and brings warmth to those deep cold places.
I had to learn to ignore the lies of stigma and shame in order to fully understand that depression, or any other mental illness for that matter, is not a sign of weakness, it is not a character flaw. It is a sickness like any other that needs treatment. It doesn’t just “go away”. Treatment looks different for each and every individual and that is o.k., but what is not o.k. is letting an illness go untreated because others don’t think you should feel what you feel.
Tackling depression and self injury has shown me that I am far stronger than I ever could imagine. It has taught me, like so many things in life, you can’t do it alone and you shouldn’t have to. There is a full community of people like me out there, who are battling their illnesses bravely and living the best versions of their lives that is possible. I never thought I would be grateful for my struggles, but I am. I am so thankful that I can appreciate the fullness of what my life is right at this moment because I have seen the depths of darkness and despair. And even on the hard days it is easier to keep moving forward because I have seen how far I have come.
The struggles of my former life, have birthed a new dream in me. A dream to create a non profit where I can help others to find their healing through counseling, community, faith and hope.
I am more than mental illness.
I am a warrior.
and I am not ashamed.