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A.S.M’s Way Out of Depression , Age: 20

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

I first started experiencing symptoms of depression at the age of 12 or 13. I live in a family where my mother is bipolar and anorexic and my brother is schizophrenic. Living in such an unstable and chaotic family environment really took a toll on me, and I began blaming myself for all the anger and violence I was seeing at home. I would feel so much guilt, and I’d carry it around with me day after day. I’d feel sad and hopeless some days, and I honestly felt like there was no way out. I was a generally happy and upbeat person, but when I got in a “funk” (as I called them), I felt like I was somebody completely different. I would feel hopeless, unhappy thoughts would race through my head at what felt like a million miles an hour, and I would feel overwhelmed with sadness and just cry and cry and cry. I hated this other person living inside of me. At the age of 16, I started self harming. It got to the point where I did it so often, I carried razor blades, gauze, and band-aids in my school backpack and would hurt myself in the bathroom.

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

At my first signs of depression, I started seeing my family psychiatrist. I didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me, and thus the therapy sessions did not do much. My relationship with my mother was a big trigger of my depression and anxiety, and I was not mature enough to realize how my mother’s actions affected me. It was difficult for me to understand at that age. In high school, therapy did not help me much, mostly because I think I didn’t want the help or believe I needed it really. I took my medication and hoped that would be all I needed. I didn’t realize recovery isn’t just taking medication; it’s a lot more spiritual than we realize. Once I got into college, my self harming habits became so bad I had to come home. I went to a hospital where I learned DBT skills, which helped me a lot. However, once I was discharged from the hospital, I didn’t keep up with my DBT skills as I should have, and eventually relapsed into self harming and eating disordered behaviors.

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

Things started to change for the better when I decided I wanted to get better. I realized that sometimes my brain was a sad and scary place to be. For the longest time I believed I deserved to live like that, but then I realized I don’t. I deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to suffer. I actively sought treatment (and currently am) for my self harm and my eating disorder. Treatment will only work if you want to get better, and you really invest yourself into your treatment. You have to understand that you DO deserve to get better. It doesn’t matter if other people are suffering and you feel like you deserve to, too (this is how I feel all the time). You do deserve recovery. You deserve happiness.

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

Of course I still have my ups and downs. Sometimes my mood swings unpredictably, but I am working on using my DBT skills and meditation in my every day life to help myself. I am learning that even though sometimes I feel out of control of my emotions, I can help myself when I am feeling overwhelmed. I am back in college full time and working towards a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management. I live on my own (which I never ever thought I would be able to do), and am overall very happy.

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

To anyone that is having a tough time– don’t give up. Please don’t give up. There is somebody out there who loves you so much, even if you are trying to think of somebody right now and can’t. I love you. You deserve to be happy, and you just need to hang in there, okay? Some days are going to be bad, and they’re going to feel like the longest days ever. You may believe that you’re going to be sad for the rest of your life. But it isn’t true. There are so many other people who have felt exactly how you have felt. There are people that care about you. There are people whose job it is to help you! You deserve happiness, you deserve love, you deserve everything good in life, and you are perfect exactly the way you are. I know bad days are discouraging and can be scary. I know that sometimes emotions are overwhelming. But I also know that some days are so beautiful, and I want you to be here to see those beautiful days!


I know that sometimes emotions are overwhelming. But I also know that some days are so beautiful, and I want you to be here to see those beautiful days!

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