Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA
"My dad died by suicide before I was born. I didn’t find that out until I was 13, and I wouldn’t tell anyone until I was 16. I just turned 18, and whenever someone asks me what happened to my father, I tell them, to which I always receive an unexpected hug or an 'I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.' I always respond by saying, 'It’s okay. I never knew him.'
I never knew my father, but he gave me a part of myself that I did not want. I have severe anxiety, which has affected my life in ways I would not have believed a few years ago. My anxiety has gone from normal, to obsessive compulsive disorder, to agoraphobia (the fear of leaving my house), to irritable bowel syndrome, to depression, to severe panic attacks.
I live my life every day taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. I have gone to countless therapists. I have opened up to friends and family about my disorders, to which most of them tell me that I 'need to learn to relax.' I had people who undermined by disorders by stigmatizing me. People think that I have anxiety because I don’t know how to control my nerves, that I have depression because I am overdramatic, and that I have OCD because I’m crazy.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to tell people my story in fear of being negatively judged, but that hasn’t stopped me. I live every day of my life in fear of both the irrational and the inevitable, but that hasn’t halted me from living my life. Although some days I can’t leave my house or get out of bed, I’ve pushed through and fought my own mind. Somedays I struggled to go to high school, but I still showed up and did my work, graduating with honors, and being accepted to a great college with a half scholarship.
Over the summer, I forced myself to get a job, despite having panic attacks almost every day I was there. But, looking back I would never change a thing about those three months, as that job led me to meet the boy I love.
I typically have anxiety around new people, especially when it comes to going on one-on-one dates with a person I don’t know, but I did, and now I’m in love. I had trouble going on overnight field trips and sleeping at my friends’ houses, and I still do, but 2 months ago I moved into a college dorm over an hour away from my house. I spent the first few weeks crying to my family and boyfriend, telling them that I was alone and miserable, but with their support, I pushed through and am over halfway through my first year.
I have my good days, but I also have my bad days. I have my days where I regret moving away from home and lay in my bed trying to get rid of my panic attacks, but those days don’t last forever, and I work to make the next day better. I’ve learned to live my life one day at a time, that not every person is going to stigmatize me. And, that every day I become stronger.
My dad died by suicide before I was born, but I wish he hadn’t. I wish he could have seen more of the good in the world and in his life. I’m sure he fought a long, hard battle with himself, and I will never resent him for what he did, but I feel sorry for him. I’m sorry the world didn’t treat him well enough to keep living. With his memory, I hope to make the world a better place for people who don’t want to live."