I come from a broken family, and I had a really hard time figuring out where I belonged, and what role I played in my family. When I was 13, I started cutting myself. It became an addiction, and it was part of my daily routine.
That year was also my first of 5 suicide attempts.
That same year I was hospitalized. Little did I know that would be the first of 9 times, and over the course of the next 5 years I was in and out of hospitals, residential treatment, and foster care.
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety, and borderline personality traits. I was too scared to ever let anyone close to me in fear that they would leave, and I couldn’t walk past broken glass or anything without picking it up and stashing it because I knew I would need it later.
When I was 18 I checked myself out of treatment. I knew nothing about the real world. I knew nothing without structure and people making my decisions for me. I left treatment with nothing, I dropped out of school, I had no money, no work experience, no car, no drivers license. I slept on probably a dozen couches, and a few floors.
None of my family had a place for me. I wish I could explain in a short writing my relationships with my family, all the things I went through, and how I thought depression and mental illness was my life sentence. I didn’t even trust myself not to kill myself.
What I will share, is after falling down a million times, feeling weak and alone, I fell down one last time and decided I deserve to get up, and my journey is my choice.
I made some phone calls, got my GED, found a seasonal night job I could walk to, surrounded myself with people that genuinely wanted me around and wanted to see me succeed, I practiced driving, got my license, got a car, applied for a job that I knew nothing about. I had a 50/50 chance at succeeding at all of these things. My attitude was half of that battle. I was determined to prove statistics wrong.
Here I am, 4 years later with a beautiful daughter and wonderful man to remind me why I’m lucky on the tough days. I was recognized by upper management, and the leaders of my building for my outstanding performance and coming to work everyday and being their cheerleader on the tough days.
I still have hard days, I still battle my brain. The difference now is I don’t let my brain win. I wake up every morning and find a reason to smile, some days are harder than others but I know I have to.
The moral of my story, is that even if everyone else forgets about you, please don’t forget about yourself. You deserve your love and affection more than anyone else. I still go to therapy every two weeks, and journal regularly. Mental illness will always be a part of me that I have to manage, but it’s my choice if I let it define me.