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N.B’s Story on Being Loved, Age: 17

I was regularly bullied and in seventh grade my group of friends stopped speaking to me one day, and often acted that they did not know who I was. I blamed myself for it.

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

It began as I entered middle school, as I began to drift and divide myself both socially and within my own family. I was regularly bullied and in seventh grade my group of friends stopped speaking to me one day, and often acted that they did not know who I was. I blamed myself for it.

My brother and I were both adopted by our parents, and he struggled with ADHD and other issues while he was young and my parents often had to devote all of their attention to him to keep him on the right track. Since I was unaware of his condition I felt that my parents preferred, or loved, him more than me. This feeling of worthlessness only got worse as my friends left me, and my parents got more and more frustrated with my poor performance socially and academically. Depression and self injury began a year later.

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

I first got help a long time after this, when I was a freshman in high school. I told my parents and the therapist very little of what I was feeling or thinking because at the time I was afraid of them disliking me further because of what I felt was wrong with me. Because of that, I didn’t have a chance to improve.

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

In high school I found a group of friends, one very good person in particular, of whom I could rely on and that was a very big change. Socially I no longer felt worthless, but the issues between myself and my family remained, so my depression and other issues lingered, and intensified. I thought that since I had improved myself socially, I would see a change at home, but there was none. My parents found many of the people I hung around with to be socially awkward, and this created a larger rift between myself and them.

The real turning point was a series of breakdowns, arguments, and confrontations between myself and my family. I blamed my parents and my brother for disliking me, though I know now that was false, I treated them horribly because of that idea. Amid the large confrontations between myself and my family I realized that, call it an epiphany, my poor perception of myself was not real, and I began to do what I could to make up for lost years with my family.

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

My life now is far better than I thought it could ever be. My group of friends has expanded, I feel more awake, I feel happier, my family and I can talk, laugh, and interact after years of not being able to do so. I feel loved, and happy for the first time in many years. The biggest thing I think, is being able to forgive myself and move past what I had done and thought in the past, and focus on being a real part of my family.

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

I tell my friends, and my family every day that I love them, I am grateful for them standing by me, supporting me, and not giving up on me. I thank my friends for accepting, and loving who I am as a person, and I thank my family for helping me in my efforts to change.

And to anyone going through anything, big or small, what I wish I can tell you is that help is out there. Friends, new people, and professionals can and will often do their best to help you. Patience and strength to go through the time it takes for things to improve are really important.