Escaping Darkness, Choosing Light
Two years ago, if you would have told me I would be alive today and helping change the world, I would have told you that you were crazy. Two years ago, I couldn’t even see myself living to be sixteen, let alone making it to my sophomore year of high school. At fourteen, I was moving schools and had issues with my paternal father. And I was being bullied at school, which started in elementary school and never really stopped. But it was middle school that had the biggest impact on me. I moved between three schools in three years, the last one being in Florida. The second one I attended in Colorado took the largest toll on me. People made fun of me, a lot. I was taunted for being poor, overweight and for not being pretty enough. I had a face full of acne, I would shake a lot, and I had a hard time talking to people. I could count the few friends I had on one hand, but there was constant drama. But none of this is what tore me apart. A few days into March, my mom had picked me up from a cheerleading tryout. In the car, the words spilled from her lips, “Shannon, Uncle John V. committed suicide the other day…” She continued on but I couldn’t hear a word she said. I felt like the floor had opened up from under my feet, swallowing me whole. My stomach dropped and I could feel my brain pounding against my skull. Tears welled up in my eyes as we pulled into the driveway of our house. I grabbed my backpack and headed downstairs into my room where I spent the rest of my night. My uncle John V. wasn’t a blood relative but I had known him since I was born. We’d watch football together and bond over our dislike of the Dallas Cowboys. He was sarcastic towards me, but was sweet to me and I looked up to him. The week he died was the first time I had grabbed a blade and dragged it across my wrist. My life took a turn. I became isolated from my parents and I’d constantly get into arguments with my mom. I spent the majority of my time in my room and I stopped eating. I would not come out of the house and the only people I surrounded myself with were those who were a toxic part of my life. The toxic people, I would somehow call “friends” kept telling me that I should “cut a little deeper” or “it should have been you instead” and for a while, I wished it were. I wanted to be dead. We moved to Florida around eighth grade and I met some amazing friends, some of my best friends to this day, but even then, I still had an eating disorder and I was still self-harming. And finally, I got tired of people seeing them so I took a blade to my thighs, which left countless of scars. Though my friends tried to help, they had a hard time understanding and this carried on into my freshmen year of high school in Kentucky. January 31st, 2015, I decided to recover and talk to my parents. I soon started going to my doctor and they recommended seeing a therapist. My therapist impacted my life so much, and we learned about two things that were controlling my life: anxiety and depression. Throughout my newfound recovery, different medications have messed me up a bit and I have had a few relapses but I am better than I have ever been. And I owe that to my parents, my teachers, my friends, and my family. Now, as a senior in high school, I am an active volunteer with the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation and have created a close bond with the foundation’s executive director who will never know how much she has impacted my life. I received the foundation’s Matt’s Hero Award, which I will forever cherish. The greatest thing I have learned throughout my journey is that I will be okay… and so will you. I cannot promise happiness, but I can promise that you will be okay. You have a choice, you can let people put a label on you and become that, or you can use your words, and you can move toward something greater than you can ever imagine. There is good in the world, and good people, and the world is more kind than what it’s made out to be.
We have a choice to be the light in the world, or we can stay hidden in the darkness. Tragedies can occur everywhere, even in our own lives. But please do not give up on the world, on other people, and especially not yourself.
BIO: Shannon Ackerman is in the high school graduating class of 2018. She loves dogs, tacos, and the color orange. She hopes to travel the world and help all those around her. Shannon likes to watch bad movies to make fun of them and enjoys springtime.
You can find more stories like Shannon’s in The i’Mpossible Project — Volume 2: Changing Minds Breaking Stigma Achieving the Impossible, now available for pre-order (click here). 50 authors. 50 inspirational stories of managing and overcoming mental health obstacles.
The first 200 people to pre-order will get a “thank you” in the front of the book, a free ebook copy of the book The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah, and a free ebook copy of The i’Mpossible Project — Volume 1: Reengaging With Life, Creating a New You.
Originally published at iampossibleproject.blogspot.com on May 1, 2017.