This year marks the 10th anniversary of my depression diagnosis. To be honest, I’ve never told anyone this story, and I’m nervous to finally be writing it down for the world to see. But I feel like I need to, it’s been 10 years, I don’t need to hide my story any longer. I know I’m not the only one who has been through these things, and maybe by putting my story out there someone won’t feel so alone. Even if I can make one person know that they are not alone, I’ve done my part. My story isn’t just about when I got my diagnosis but how, it isn’t a happy story and I’m not sorry, it happened.
I don’t remember the exact date, but I do know it was around or before my 14th birthday. I’ve had depression longer, but I didn’t get a diagnosis until I hit rock bottom. Fourteen seems so young to me now, but I wasn’t your average fourteen-year-old. I had started puberty early, extremely early. I’ve heard they have a medication kids can take now to stop early on set of puberty, but when I went through it I was just an early bloomer. My breasts started growing when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade and I started my period in the 4th grade.
With that being said, I had hormones pumping through my body at an earlier age than most kids my age. I matured faster and started seeing the world in a more adult way at the young age of 8 or 9. My childhood was cut short, no one was at fault, it just happened. I’m not sure when I really started feeling depressed, but I know it started when we moved from Maryland to Florida. For the first time in my life, I was not living on or near a military base, that family or neighborly feeling was gone. At the time, I didn’t understand why things felt so different to me, but now I know. When we moved to Florida I started the 5th grade, everyone in my class had known each other for most of their lives, and then I show up, a stranger to them. I can’t blame them for not being more welcoming to me, but it does still hurt even though I’m older. I hope when I have kids I will teach them to be more open to new people and hopefully they can make a new kid feel better about moving so far away. For a long time, no one talked to me, but they eventually got used to me and started talking to me. Only a few kids though, we didn’t create a huge bond and I only had one close friend. I didn’t feel lonely, even now I’m still friends with some of them on Facebook.
After a long year of not understanding why I was so lonely, I started middle school. I was so excited, I would get a chance to start over and make so many friends! Or that was my plan at least, it didn’t really happen that way. By this time all my friends were catching up to me they started going through puberty and everyone was uncomfortable/awkward. No one was sure what was going on and so they kept with their friends from Elementary school. I had made one good friend in elementary school but we didn’t stay in touch and drifted away. It happens, but at that time it felt like I was losing a big part of my life. All three years of middle school I had different best friends each year. I was comfortable with them and I still talk to them to this day, we aren’t as close but now I know we have lives and it’s okay.
Then I started High School and that is when things started to get really bad. I don’t remember much of my freshman year, but there was a lot of drama and bullying. Girls didn’t seem to like me because I looked like a “slut”, basically, I had the body of a woman when I wasn’t supposed to. They were probably jealous or insecure, but I was just as jealous and insecure as they were. My grades started slipping and my parents were disappointed in me. They weren’t crazy tiger parents, but they wanted me to get my grades up. I felt like a failure.
One day during class, I decided that I was going to commit suicide. I couldn’t take the pain I was in, I couldn’t understand why I felt like this. Even just 10 years ago, depression wasn’t something someone talked about, it was still very much taboo and there wasn’t much information available to a teenager at that time. But this pain I was feeling was very real, the fatigue that felt like it would never go away, and the mood swings. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I’m not sure how the teacher knew, but she just knew and she told the guidance counselor. The counselor called me to her office and she Baker Acted me.
In the state of Florida, there is something called the Baker Act. Someone can be Baker Acted if: they possibly have a mental illness, is a harm to self, harm to other or is self-neglectful. This is an amazing Act because it can really help people who need help get it. It is technically an involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual. It sounds so horrible, but without this act, I probably wouldn’t be here and that would be a shame.
The counselor got in contact with my mom, who rushed to come see me. She was so upset, I still remember the tears in her eyes. It hurt me so much to see her like that, I felt like a failure. I wasn’t supposed to hurt my mom, just myself. I was taken to the hospital by my mom, they knew I was coming and were prepared. They took my clothes away and all of my things. I was in, what seemed like, a holding cell. They gave me food to eat, but I only had a spoon to eat it with, no knives, no forks. My mom was there with me the whole time. She kept getting calls from my dad, who was probably just as worried about me. I had a hard time looking at my mom and explaining to her what I was feeling, so I mostly didn’t talk. My best friend at the time, Emily, even came to visit me while I was in the holding cell. It showed me that I was cared for and it hurt me even more because if people cared about me, why I was feeling this way? What was wrong with me?
They transported me over to the Psychiatric Hospital in a van, I still didn’t have my clothes, I couldn’t have anything with strings or sharp objects. They gave me my room and I don’t remember much else of that day. I think my mom went home to get my clothes and shower things. She came back with my dad, my clothes, and some books I could read. I wasn’t allowed my cell phone. They filled out some paperwork and left. The night went by fast because I slept for most of it.
The next day I refused to leave my room, I was very emotional and still confused. My parents came to visit me, and they brought me taco bell. They spent time with me, told me how much they loved me and how they wanted me to get better. After they left, I finally left my room and went into the recreation room where I colored the day away. There were other kids my age there, all of them for different reasons. My roommate was there because she got caught cutting again. One of the boys was there because of being violent towards someone else, and another boy was there for the same reason I was. Of course, there were more people there but I remember them the most because they talked to me.
I sometimes wonder what happened to them in the end. I didn’t get any contact information from them. Later that day I had my first meeting with the psychiatrist, he was nice. He gave me my diagnosis of depression that day, he told me it was possibly genetic and that some people are more susceptible than others. He explained to me that the feelings I had were all symptoms of depression, he assured me I wouldn’t feel like this forever and that sometimes I can be caused by our brains not creating enough serotonin. After that, I can’t remember what we talked about but he said that if I keep up with my good behavior I could leave but I needed to show him that I wanted to live.
The third day of this experience, I felt better, my parents came for a visit and stayed for a session with my psychiatrist. My mom came in the room with me to talk to him and he told me to tell him why I should be allowed to go home. I told him something along the lines of “I want to live for my mom and dad. One day I want to give them grandchildren”. He believed me and he told me I could go home either that day or the next, I don’t remember when. He told my mother I need to see a therapist weekly and he gave her a list of people I could see. He also said that I was young and probably didn’t need to be on any type of medications and that therapy should help, if it didn’t the therapist could refer me to a psychiatrist.
I left the facility shortly after that, my parents were very supportive all through it and never doubted me. It made me feel stupid that I didn’t just talk to them first. Looking back, I’m extremely grateful at how supportive they were of me and I can’t imagine how hard it was for them.
I can’t believe that it’s been 10 years since this all happened. I still remember those three days as if they were yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. My depression has gotten better but I still fall down every now and then. I haven’t hit rock bottom again, so that is a good thing. That doesn’t mean things have been easy when my depression gets bad enough it last for weeks or even months but I’ve learned how to manage my depression in a positive way and I have more good days than I have bad ones. I’m grateful for that, life is beautiful, and it took a long time for me to get that kind of mindset. 10 years is a long time, and in those 10 years so much has happened. I’m happy I’ve been here to experience it all. I’ve graduated High School, I graduated College, I have an amazing boyfriend who I’ve been with for over 6 years, I have my amazing parents, a best friend who is always there when I need her, I have a job, an apartment of my own, three amazing cats, and so much more. I’m so happy I’ve been here to experience the good and the bad, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not happy every day, and I have my rough weeks but I am happy I am alive to experience it all. Life is full of bumps in the road and I’m proud to say that I think I can handle them. If I can’t handle them I have amazing parents, an amazing boyfriend, and some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. They can help me, I don’t have to do everything alone.
That’s my story, I know it might not be unique, but it’s my story. This year marks my 10th anniversary of my depression diagnosis, and I hope to have many more years ahead of me. Also, please don’t feel bad for me, this is just my story, it’s 100% raw and truthful. It’s life and millions of people have experienced it.
Depression is a serious disorder that is very common and some people don’t survive it’s effects. I hope this raises more awareness of depression and please, if anyone needs someone to talk to, I will always be here for you. Even if I don’t know you, I’ll be here for you. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Or check out their website.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you all have a wonderful day!
P.S. I’m sorry if I made anyone cry, to be honest, I cried a couple of times while writing this. But it’s okay!