Some people have illnesses that you can see, that are widely accepted. I had an invisible illness and I had no idea how I was supposed to handle it. As a young child, I lost several family members. Death became a part of life, and it held my hand into my teen years. I wanted so badly to break free from its grasp, but when it left me, a new enemy became my shelter. At twelve, I discovered I had depression – and at fifteen, I realized I had anxiety.
I want to say that it became easier with time. I wish I could tell people that anxiety and depression have a cure, but they don’t. Unfortunately, they become so encapsulating that each and every day can become a turmoil. At sixteen years old, I hit rock bottom. The floor, which I laid upon and recited my sorrows to, held me but it did not break my fall. For hours on end, day after day, I would feel the coolness of linoleum and I would wonder what was next. Instead of parties, prom, and other regular teen activities I became immersed only by television and movies. I could not face my peers. The judgment – the fear – the desire to be more was too great, too terrifying. Instead, I settled for a false reality, a fictitious existence. It sated some of my desire for passion, lust, and socialization. I was not whole, but I was distracted.
When you’re a depressed teenager, nothing is normal. School is harder. I loved learning but I could not go. I could not eat or sleep and all that wrapped around me was greyness. My hands, numb and useless, struggled to achieve the most basic tasks. What some might think is mental, had become a disease that spread to every one of my limbs, I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally catatonic.
You may wonder how a person comes out of this, and how they press on. You may be thinking that the end was near for me. How did I do it? How did I go from seeing the end to seeing the proverbial light? The short answer, which leaves much to be desired, is that I didn’t.
I remember sitting in a classroom while I was sick from a medication that the doctor had given me. I could hardly eat or sleep, so I was weak. I sat across from classmates who I hardly recognized, though I knew them my entire life. When I left to walk through the halls I was not present. Figures and shapes passed me, and as I sat beside them, but I was confused by their conversation. That was, if I remembered to listen. Slowly it became harder to go to school… nothing was easy. Eventually, I couldn’t go. I had to fight tooth and nail for the chance to finish my work from home. This was High School – and it was hell. But, to spite my worst, I made it. I graduated early, and I started a college program. I stayed in my house for a year and I watched myself become lost… but I made a change. I decided to go to University, and for a short while it saved my life.
Fast forward six months and things were good. I may even consider them excellent. I was happy. I lost thirty pounds easily. I wasn’t bad before, but this weight had collected from depression – and as I got happier, it melted away. I thought I could finally live my life. I thought I was free from the misery that had stolen my teen years. All of a sudden, I was bothered by noises and visuals. Whistling, foot shaking, pen tapping, leg shaking, and keys began to drive me crazy. I noticed everything. When in class, I found it impossible to pay attention. My irritation became rage, and it was painful. I could not focus, and I could not handle it. I felt confused and upset. Why me? Why now? Why was I so abnormal?
For the first few months of this, I had no idea what was wrong with me. My friends didn’t understand, and my mother was impatient. I couldn’t be so unreasonable that I would actually expect them to stop their behavior, could I? All I knew was that regardless of my mental state, and my rational thoughts, I could not handle it. After crawling out of depression and anxiety, I had tripped and fallen on my head into another prison: Misophonia. Misophonia is a lesser-known, newly recognized disorder that involves sensory processing. There is no cure, but current research shows that the condition becomes worse in time and with exposure.
Depression, Misophonia, and Anxiety have shaped me in many ways. They have stopped me from taking risks, but they have also taught me that no matter what you go through and who you are, life is going to happen. There will always be bad in this world – but, you need to carve out a world for yourself. School may be hard, and living alone can be a challenge, but what is the alternative? Through my disorders, and my desire to be a writer and story teller, I have realized that life is very short, but it’s also very movable. Regardless of our challenges, we need to have expectations of ourselves. Even if it takes us longer to fulfill our goals, they are worth having. Now, I am continuing my studies.
On my wrist I have a tattoo that says “fight”. I live by this word every day. I vehemently fight for all that I believe in, and all that I have struggled against. There are ups, and there are downs, but I will never forget all that I have learned, and all that I have been through. That’s why I am so passionate about education. There is no greater feeling than discovering that life moves on, and it’s beautiful. There is too much to learn to ever give up because of challenges.