A story is always supposed to have a beginning. I don’t know where to start though; this is something I’ve been fighting for nearly my entire life, and I’m still struggling today. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that do not understand these battles. For those who have or know someone who has a mental illness, you understand. If you are not aware of mental health or you just don’t understand it, I encourage you to read this all the way through. This is my story so far.
Some people would say that I was genetically destined to be like this. My father had these same problems. The bullying at school and dysfunctional family didn’t help. The bullies at school would make fun of me for my size and bang me up at recess. Sadly, the school just let it happen; they did nothing to help. After school, I would come home to my parents fighting. There were a lot of nights where I cried myself to sleep, because I didn’t see a way out.
When I reached middle school & junior-high school, my parents decided to get divorced, & the bullying continued. I started to better understand what was happening, and I hated everything. I cut for the first time in 7th grade and smoked my first cigarette in 8th grade; it was a way of showing my pain. My parents’ divorce was finalized by then; dad got remarried, mom found someone else, and I remained broken. After 9th grade (one of the worst school years of my life), I was given the option to switch schools, and I accepted. However, that is when the bigger problems in life began.
It was a big transition to switch schools. The bullying died down, but I still felt lost. “What comes next” was a question that often popped up in my mind. I wasn’t good at anything like sports, art, science, or even making friends. I saw myself as a dumb kid from the boondocks that moved to the city. My depression reached the point of suicidal ideation towards the end of 2010.
February 2011–I punched a television set in anger and was taken to the hospital for a possibly broken hand. The doctor asked me some questions about how I was feeling. When she asked if I was having suicidal thoughts, I was honest with her by saying “yes”. My mother burst into tears; I will never forget her reaction to finding this out. We began visiting a doctor shortly after this, and I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
I was put on anti-depressants that helped me temporarily. Despite taking the medications, I was still sad while everyone else around me was happy. It wasn’t fair to me, because they haven’t dealt with what I’ve been through. My hatred for the world grew larger. The sorrow turned into anger.
This is when I became what I despised; I became a bully. Throughout 2011-2013, I verbally abused whoever was in front of me in hopes of making myself feel better. This cost me friends, and I lost the respect of others. Losing my girlfriend a month before I graduated, I left high school with nothing but a diploma.
I had my wisdom teeth removed shortly after graduating. For a period of two weeks, I was in the worst emotional and physical pain in my life. Once again, everyone else was enjoying life while I was feeling tortured. I saw no reason to live for at that point. In June 2013 at age 18, I tried to kill myself for the first time.
Nobody could know my secret. The next few years consisted of me isolating myself from the world. I was in technical school at the time. This allowed me to at least do something. Other than school, my life consisted of nothing significant.
After graduating once again and getting a job, I attempted to come out of my shell when I met a girl. Unfortunately, my trust was betrayed, my sex drive was ripped away, and I was back to being depressed and pissed off. There was one difference this time: I have tried everything to get better, and there was nothing left to try. I resorted back to self-harm and smoking, and I began to abuse medications. This was a point in my life where I didn’t care rather I lived or died, because it wouldn’t make a difference.
Fortunately, I finally hit rock bottom in March 2016 when I began to have suicidal thoughts again. My step-brother noticed me acting weird and decided to talk to me. I don’t know what came over me, but I felt like it was time to finally cry out for help. I reached out to several Facebook friends who showed me a tremendous amount of support. One very special friend even gave me the idea of volunteering.
I found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in my area and decided to dedicate myself to the cause. With my new mindset, I wanted to help people who are dealing with the things in which I did and still do. I have done quite a bit in my short time of being a mental health advocate. It took a lot of courage, and I didn’t know if I was up to the challenge, but I spoke at the 2016 Cape Girardeau Out of the Darkness Walk. This was the first time I ever openly talked about my suicide attempt. It was the most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life, and it was at that moment when I found my life purpose.
For those who didn’t understand mental illness, I hope that my ongoing story has spoken to you today. If there is anyone you know of who is dealing with this, please be there for them. Some of us don’t have the courage to cry out for help, (especially when we don’t see it), and some of us just need someone to listen and tell us that everything is going to be okay. Please be there to support them and point them in the right direction. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to accept your help, but there is someone out there who will be forever grateful that you stepped in their life.
For those who are dealing with mental illness, feeling hopeless, or having trouble finding a life purpose, you’re not alone. I know that a lot of other advocates say that, but it never becomes less true. We only remain lost forever when we give up. You don’t have to stay in this dark place forever; there is light. Yes, it may take quite some time to see it, and we might lose sight of it (I’m currently trying to find it again), but it is essential that we keep looking. You have worth. There are people that are going to tell you that you aren’t worth anything, but they are bullies that may even be struggling themselves. Don’t listen to the negativity.
There is a lot of stigma that people put on mental illness, but there is no shame in feeling sad, tired, & lost. Some of history’s greatest people have been where you are at right now: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Isaac Newton, King David, and many more. There are even successful people today that still deal with mental illness: Wentworth Miller, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mauro Ranallo, Demi Lovato, and so many more. These people have overcome the stigma and are still fighting today.
I’m not famous, I don’t make a lot of money, & I still get very depressed. All I have to show for myself is the story I shared with you today, and it still doesn’t have a happy ending. My demons are trying to hold me down at this very moment, and I just want to give up sometimes. Things get better, and things get worse, but remember that things will always get better as long as we don’t give up. It is not easy, but it is not supposed to be easy. We were given this battle, because we are strong enough to win it and achieve our happiness.