The Silence in Suffering

If you asked me what goes through my mind when people talk about anxiety and depression, you’d get a big fat eye roll. What everyday people consider as anxiety or depression just isn’t correct. I know this because I deal with both mental health issues on a daily basis.

If I had to guess, I would say it all started when I was thirteen. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s a shitty age to be a girl.” Right? With your body changing and your mind expanding, you sometimes find yourself all over the place. My upbringing was more than satisfactory. In relation to the rest of the world, I have nothing to complain about. That’s why I kept silent.

I grew up having others perceive me as intelligent, athletic and witty. My grandparents think I’m the best thing since sliced bread and my teachers were always making a good example out of me. I felt I couldn’t possibly talk to someone about how I was feeling because that would skew people’s opinions of me. Which I just couldn’t have. Family friends would tell their younger children to try and be like me. Little did they know, they’d never wish that on their child if they knew the truth.

It’s all an act.

What frustrates me the most, is that for the longest time, years, I thought it was my fault. I didn’t understand that it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain. I didn’t understand that I have no control. But I used to think: “How dare I? How dare I feel miserable? How dare I hate myself? What’s there to hate? I have it all!” Now, a junior in college, I think I’ve figured it out.

Well, not exactly. All I know now is that I can’t help the way I feel. This past summer, after my 3rd panic attack and after about the 5th time I mutilated my wrists, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get help. You know why? Life just gets harder as you get older. I started to feel insanely out of control of my mind and body. I like controlling how I feel and what I do, even so that I would cut particular places on my body so that no one would see the scars.

If you’re living with depression and anxiety, you know that absolutely anything can set you off. It could be seeing a dead dog on the side of the road, or having a family member pass away. It all feels the same. No matter the situation, I react very deeply to many things and that’s when my mind starts playing tricks on me. Didn’t get invited to dinner with my friends? I’d cut myself and wonder for three days why in the world they didn’t invite me. That University I’d been emailing about an athletic scholarship didn’t email me back? Temporarily quit the sport I love because I thought I wasn’t good enough.

Nobody knew I was going through so many emotional hardships. Not my parents, siblings or friends. I couldn’t bare the idea of letting them know that I was, what I considered to be, weak. I didn’t want the attention that something like this would cause. I was so embarrassed.

The first time I cut myself I was 14 and it was with a box cutter, in the shower. My mom had just told me a teammate of mine got emails back from different colleges. I hadn’t gotten any yet. She suggested I stop being lazy and maybe try for once and I’d get a response. Twenty minutes later I was waiting for the water to warm up, box cutter in hand. Sobbing uncontrollably, before I could even think, I gripped the blade and started on the inside of my left forearm. Before I came back to my senses, I had two, five inch long gashes on my arm. I stared as the blood ran off of my arm and into the drain. A small red steam of water disappearing forever.

This has been continuing for 8 years. A sometimes weekly ritual. I don’t know why I do it. I wish I didn’t. But I feel better after, more in control. I’ve had scars fade and scars that never seem to go away. I scour my family’s medicine cabinet for something, anything, that will help me forget.

On the outside looking in, you probably see a girl who has been dealing with mental health issues in the worst way. What an idiot right? I don’t think that. Have I been suffering for years in silence? Yes. But my family hasn’t. My friends haven’t. My grandparents, my beloved Minga and Poppa haven’t. And that makes it worth it to me. My family’s pain is my pain.

As of a month ago, I was put on two different anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. I’m an adult now, so it was about time I took action. I will never let others worry incessantly about me. That’s just not fair. So I will continue to suffer in silence.