Kate s Story
Pittsburgh, PA USA
"I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety the summer going into my senior year of high school. However, I had been feeling depressed and getting anxiety attacks since sophomore year. Sophomore year presented me with more challenges than I had ever experienced before and I had no coping mechanisms to help me deal with the feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and sense of failure.
Throughout the whole of sophomore year, I pushed away my friends, my family; basically, anyone who could have helped me. I felt like I annoyed them and that I was a burden to everyone already. And, I thought that telling them something was wrong inside my head would only make me more annoying and more of a burden. So I kept everything inside. I bundled everything up and pretended I was okay. No one seemed to notice, which made me feel alone.
Even if I had wanted to tell people and have them help me, I had no way of articulating how I was feeling. There were no words to accurately describe what was going on in my head. Every thought seemed to contradict another one. It was a vicious cycle of doubt and anxiety in my head. The only thing I truly knew was that I wanted it to end.
So, one night, toward the end of the year, I got in a big fight with people I love wholeheartedly, which was the last straw for me. I wrote a suicide note and planned to kill myself, but I became too scared to carry it out. Because of this failed attempt, I felt more worthless and more like a failure. After that, I turned to something I saw and heard a lot about, self-harm.
I began to cut whenever I was feeling sad. I turned to cutting because the physical pain overtook the emotional pain and it gave me something concrete to be upset about. I reasoned to myself that self-harm made me normal because you could be upset about things that could be seen. I thought it was more okay to self-harm to get rid of the sadness, then to admit to the sadness. I thought I was stronger this way. However, the sadness kept growing and my anxiety became worse.
Every day I would dread having to go to school. Then at school, I dreaded having to go home. I felt like there wasn’t any place that was safe for me. I was caught in another cycle that I couldn’t seem to get out of.
Thankfully, the summer before my senior year, I found a safe place, and I told my friends what was going on. I found that not only did I have the most amazing support system, but they were also going through a lot of the same stuff. They were always there for me and I had never noticed. They cared about me so much and I had never noticed. They loved me more than words and I had never noticed.
I could not and would not admit to being depressed, anxious, or suicidal before this point. I could not speak any of those words. They physically would not come out of my mouth, no matter how hard I tired to say them. The stigma of mental illnesses had me in such a large grasp, I could not utter the words that I assumed would make others view me as weak and small. But, admitting to needing help and that I have a mental illness does not make me weak or small.
Telling my friends was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life. Talking to my parents about wanting to see a therapist was unbelievably hard, but I’m glad I did it. Getting help was something I will never, ever regret.
My friends, family, and therapist showed me just how strong I am. They made me realize that I have made it through two long years of internal conflict by myself. They helped me know that I had the resilience and courage to persevere through the hardest times. I know now that I am strong and I will be okay. I know that I am okay."