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Our Stories

Depression

Depression – Erica’s Story, Age: 18

In school I went through a lot of bullying in 5th grade, and then severe bullying and cyberbullying by my "friends" from 7th-9th grade.

How did it all start? When did you first start experiencing symptoms or using?

I had been depressed most of my life, I first started self harming during my early sophomore year of high school. My grandmother who had Alzheimer’s was living with us, so I basically became a main caregiver for her. I was depressed, because of issues with my so called friends. I was frustrated with being a 14 year old with the responsibility of helping care for my grandmother. In school I went through a lot of bullying in 5th grade, and then severe bullying and cyberbullying by my “friends” from 7th-9th grade. Soon after the start of my self harming, suicidal thoughts came too, and 1 1/2 years later, I tried to take my own life.

What kind of help did you get at first? Did it work?

Soon after the suicidal thoughts came, I was admitted to the hospital. multiple times. I have been admitted to the hospital 12 times in a little under a year and a half. At first the hospital stays worked, I was being taught other coping skills, but after a my 9th hospital stay, I wasn’t getting the support I needed. My last hospital stay was followed by a suicide attempt. I was so hopeless, I kept going through the mental health system, not getting the help I truly needed. I was frustrated. I was angry, I was done with everything. At my last hospital stay my doctors, parents, therapists, and I all decided that I needed a residential level of care.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Once I got into a residential program is when my life really began to change. I opened up about my past, and came to realize that the severe bullying was verbal and emotional abuse. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and started EMDR therapy. That along with a therapist that I finally “clicked” with and changes in my meds, made all the difference. The staff and doctors at the residential program actually listened to me and heard what I said to them. Even if I woke up at 3 am because of a flashback, there was a friendly face who could talk me down. Because of them I was able to transition from a therapeutic school back to my public high school for my 2nd semester of my senior year. I was able to go to prom, do all my senior pranks, and the biggest….GRADUATE! with my class. I was always told that I would never graduate with my class because of how behind I was due to my hospital stays. It felt SO great to be able to walk across that stage with my class and get my diploma I so rightfully earned.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Now, I am a first semester student at a community college. I plan on becoming a Social worker, I want to be able to help older teens and young adults realize that with the right help, you can do anything you can dream of. I also plan on minoring in politics. I WILL change the mental health system here in CT. It is broken in so many places, and it is only hurting the people who need help the most.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

that it is OK to need help. That there ARE people out there who want to help you. The weight of the world may seem to be on your shoulders, you just have to keep looking for those people who will take some of that weight.