It started out with ‘testing anxiety’ back in elementary. My days were filled with tears in the counselors office and completing workbooks that specialized in helping children cope. That room became my home. Eventually, like everyone else in the world, I grew up. I developed as a woman and graduated to the next phase of the school system. The anxiety was still there. I told myself to just keep it in, swallow my tears until I could break down alone, and try to be “normal,” …whatever that means. I held in my screams and tried to avoid the feeling of being ate alive by my own subconscious. At this time, I was still new to faking my emotions and my mother glided her way into my dark hole. She took me to see my very first psych. I was diagnosed with ADHD. Are you confused? Yeah, I was too. My first official diagnosis basically said, “hey, kid, I know you feel like an outsider. I know you get beat when the teachers aren’t looking. I heard you when you explained the numb feeling in your body and when you expressed how you felt when you go running to the school counselor. Sounds like one hell of a life you’re living! No worries! You’re just hyperactive and the amount of energy you’re giving off is too much for us to handle. This pill will help you lose weight, like tons of it. You’ll be great once that happens!”…whatever. They did hit one thing right on the nose. By the time I started seventh grade, I went down to a double zero in jeans and extra small tops. I could even fit clothes in the children’s section. Let’s just say, a new obsession had latched on to me and I didn’t want to let go. By the eighth grade, I was a pro at wearing masks. I ducked and dodged when I saw bad coming and put a smile on my face in the halls. On the inside, I was deteriorating. ‘Don’t ever speak on it and maybe it will go away.’ Unfortunately, little Sydney, that’s not how it works. Remember when I said I started developing as a woman? Yeah, well, I wasn’t the only one that was taking notice to my changing features. I was, however, the only one that didn’t feel the need to sexualize my aging… or so I felt. Boys began to notice me, which was weird, considering I barely noticed me. You know when you go on a school field trip to a museum and the signs say, “please don’t touch,” but there’s always a group that does it anyway? I became that groups main attraction. It added to my anxiety and caused my depression to show through my now breaking mask. My mother tried again. I was put on all these medications so I could “be like everyone else”. Soon enough, I couldn’t feel anymore. Everyday there was a strong, numb feeling in my soul. I cried and did some physical damage, but nothing changed. I couldn’t believe I was so weird. A freak of nature. I started to believe what was said to me to the point that I even began to join in. By the start of my junior year of high school, I had five failed attempts under my belt with a mental facility admittance to add a little spice. I lost some friends….one friend I never expected to lose. That was an entirely different kind of pain and it shifted my mindset even more. It became hard for me to trust, because humans had caused me so much pain. I became terrified of my future and if I would ever let a man in to love and accept me as myself….that is, if I made it far enough to experience it.
I’m in my senior year of high school, now. I found a psychiatrist that makes me feel comfortable and a counselor that is paid to listen to me rant and give an unbiased opinion on my situations. At first, I was iffy about the both of them and tried everything to avoid my appointments. Now, I kind of look forward to seeing them. A mask free zone that doesn’t put you down, but does everything in its power to lift you up. Do me a favor and don’t tell my mom I said that. I don’t want to give her that satisfaction…not yet. I have hiccups, but, overall, I think I’m doing pretty well. I laugh…genuinely. I sleep through the night. I no longer care about being a carbon copy, because no two people are the same. I love that about the world. Sure, I may have five diagnoses, pills to take every morning, and appointments to keep, but every person has their own thing and this happens to be mine. My mental health will always be a part of me. I’ve accepted that. I’m okay with that. It’s a constant reminder that things do get better and to never judge a book by its cover. I’ve been through a lot and I wouldn’t wish my life on ANYONE. Though, I do hope to help others in their journey. I believe my past and present give me an up on that. For now, I’m still driving along with my luggage all packed. The keywords: still driving.
That was a little peek into my story, but I would like to focus on you, now. I understand the feelings, trust me I do. I’ve taken way more pills than I was prescribed more than a couple times. I’ve self-harmed. I’ve attempted to jumped off of very high places to escape it all. Yet, even through all of that, I’m still here to tell you what I’m going through. You need to know that you’re worth it. If not to anyone around, to me you’re the world. I know you feel like a black hole that keeps expanding, but, understand me when I say, you’re a blessing to your family. If not blood relatives, then to someone else. If you feel you don’t have anyone, I’m here to help. I’m still getting through my issues and you’re working on yours, but, together, we can fight this war. Remember those times we tried to kill ourselves and didn’t succeed? Did you ever think it was because God had a bigger dream? A plan for us to grow and be able to tell our story; To speak about mental illness and the people it’s destroying. It won’t change over night and there will be some frustration, but trust the process. At times you may want to tear it to shreds, but hang in there. It’s worth it.
The point I’m trying to make is simple. Mental illness sucks, isolation is no joyride, emotions can be nauseating and labels are misleading. True.
What’s also true is that you are not alone. We are not alone. Everything you feel is valid. There is nothing wrong with expressing what’s going on inside of you.
Everyone’s path is different and I know you may not relate to anything I’ve been through, but I hope this helps you fight a little longer. Do not be ashamed. Don’t let stereotypes tell you that you’re less of a person for showing emotion. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to scream. Be angry. You know why? You’ll be stepping outside of your mental gate and revealing the raw you to the world. Whether it’s in the privacy of your own room or with a group of people, let it out. Hit a pillow. By a blow up bat and go ham on a stuffed animal. Live. Feel. Breathe. Accept. Achieve.
One step at a time.