Kayla s Story
Monterey, CA USA
“I think I am one of the several people who grew up being labeled as ‘gifted’ or ‘advanced’ in school, but now struggle with self-worth and some intense self-esteem issues as an adult. There was a lot of pressure on me to amount to something amazing in life due to how I was excelling academically, and I was in full support of that- ready to go to my dream university and study forensic criminology.
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I wasn't able to attend and went to a community college in a different state to get the general education classes out of the way. Only a few months into school, I began realizing that I wasn’t as ‘gifted’ or ‘advanced’ as I had thought and I quickly crumbled under the weight of school.
During this same time, I had started to understand just how far away I was from my friends and relatives and that loneliness began to reign supreme. I really struggled to find where I belonged in this new place and what I needed to do to feel happy or just in control. This led to developing several unhealthy habits, including an eating disorder and self-inflicted pain.
My mind was constantly worried about what how I looked and felt and what others thought of me and to cope with that, I turned to more destructive behaviors. It felt like such an endless cycle.
I felt some reprieve for a bit after traveling on a mission trip to South America, feeling more balanced and focused, by giving my attention to the ministry opportunities I was participating in. This continued for about two years and led me to attend a seminary school in Los Angeles.
But, here, I struggled again with my self-worth and trying to see that I was good enough or smart enough or just enough in general. Unfortunately, the living situation I was in (3 girls who were strangers, all in their twenties) became incredibly toxic and emotionally abusive. I had a full mental breakdown.
I ended up having to see a psychiatrist to establish what the underlying cause was for all of this. It was then that I was diagnosed with having a Generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD). I began going to therapy once a week and started taking medication to balance the serotonin levels.
Within a few months’ time, I felt better than ever. I had some confidence again, I didn’t feel so worried about things, and I could actually focus on what I was doing instead of letting my mind distract me with fictional scenarios. After a year of medication, I transitioned off it and continued to see a therapist- things continued to be wonderful. I felt like I had been ‘cured’ so to speak. This continued for about a year or so until this last January.
I currently live on my own, away from all my family and pre-established friends. I relocated up north towards the Bay Area, after living in Los Angeles for two years. In January, I encountered a series of four deaths consecutively that really brought me into a deep depressive state. I felt like I was drowning in my emotions and had no way of getting to the surface again.
After some advice from a friend, I started going to therapy again. It was a tough journey during the first few months, and I don’t think there was a single session where I didn’t leave crying. It still was progress, though. I was having to train my mind to not spiral into a negative thought process and learn to be kind to myself instead of constantly tearing myself down.
After 5 months of therapy, I was diagnosed with having Clinical Depression. Receiving that diagnosis felt like being hit with a wrecking ball. I am incredibly supportive of mental health and seeking help, but I struggle with stigmatizing it for myself and so having not one, but two mental illnesses felt like I was getting worse, not better.
It has been just under 3 months now since that diagnosis and I have been making little steps to keep myself above water. I started taking a medication to help with my depression, I have friends who I am accountable to, and I write. I write a lot. Poetry has been my biggest confidant over the last 7 months and I have found a considerable amount of peace and comfort through that.
My most recent comfort, however, has come in the form of a dog. I adopted a 2-year-old dog, who suffers from anxiety, as well, and have trained him as my officially licensed Emotional Support Animal. Just in this short time of having him, he has been a tremendous blessing to me and my mental health and I couldn’t imagine life without him.”