Sara s Story
Clemson, South Carolina USA
"I never thought I’d be the person to write about this, and for a long time, I would have never been able to do it. I am still terrified of putting this out there for everyone to read. Then I realized, if I don’t write or talk about it, then how can I expect anyone else to be able to do it? You see, for those of us who are plagued with mental illnesses, talking about it might be one of the hardest parts, and trust me, there are many.
We tend to live in a constant state of anxiety and confusion about our illnesses. It’s like, 'I know that I need help, but I’m so terrified that people aren’t going to take me seriously or that they are going to think I’m a freak.' That is how I was for such a long time, and I honestly still am.
The first time that my parents, and I, realized that I needed help, I had gotten to the point that I didn’t want to be alive. We were all terrified. I didn’t know what was wrong. Nobody did. I don’t know what brought it on either. I didn’t want to face my family after that. I was so ashamed. It was me, the baby of the family, the happy little girl who was always the sunshine on the darkest days. Depressed? No way.
I started shutting myself off at that point. I held myself in the comfort of my room. My parents weren’t happy about this, and they tried to get me to come out, but there was no point. I was irritable and grumpy, and we seemed to constantly fight because of my attitude. I wasn’t trying to be that way. I just didn’t see a point in coming out of my room when it didn’t make me happy, nothing did.
I started sleeping a lot; it was the only way I could get out of my own head. I didn’t have to think about what was making me so miserable. I pretty much stopped talking to everybody, even my dad, who I talk to about almost everything. He still believed that I was his smiley, happy little girl, and I told him that I hadn’t been that little girl in a long time. I’d been unhappy for a while, and it finally caught up with me.
It was around this time that I started going to see a therapist for the first time. It was also around this time that I started self-harming, and I don’t know why honestly. Maybe because I had so much pain, but I didn’t know what it was coming from and having visible wounds solved that. Or maybe it was because I felt so numb all the time, and it made me feel something. I don’t know exactly.
Why would someone want to purposely hurt themselves? It beats me, even though I did it. I remember telling my best friend about what I’d done. She didn’t say much, and I honestly thought that she didn’t care. She was actually extremely worried, and she told my grandmother who then told my dad. I was mad at her because I didn’t want people to find out what I’d been doing to myself.
My dad made me promise him that I wasn’t going to do it anymore, but I broke the promise. I felt like such a burden that I didn’t know how to cope other than to keep doing it. You see, many people don’t understand self-harm, and honestly I hope that people never have to understand it. Everybody seems to think that it’s something that you can just stop, but it’s not. It’s an addiction, just like cigarettes or drugs. I know it doesn’t make any sense; how could hurting yourself be something that you’re addicted to doing? But it is, it happened to me, and surprisingly, it happens to a lot of other people.
After a couple months and a second therapist later, I still wasn’t much better. I was put on medication after my therapist found out that I was having suicidal thoughts. It made me feel slightly better, but I was still self-harming and was having a hard time with doing simple things like schoolwork and even eating. At the end of my senior year of high school, I felt mostly better and I stopped self-harming, but I think it was because I was so relieved to get out of high school, a place where I felt as though I could never be myself and never fit in.
So now, more than two years after this journey started, I am a sophomore in college. I’m doing better. Do I still have bad days? Yes. Do I still go through times where it’s hard to get out of bed? Yes. My grades still sometimes suffer because I can’t make myself get schoolwork done. But, I haven’t self-harmed in a year, which is a huge accomplishment for me because I did it for more than a year and a half. I still have really hard times, but I have amazing friends and sisters who make me realize that I am not the only one who has gone through this, and they will be there for me when I need them.
This isn’t going to turn into one of those stories where it’s like, 'I survived my depression and so can you,' because I know that while I’ve survived my depression so far, it’s not over. This is something that I’m most likely going to have to live with for the rest of my life. And as much as that sucks, and as much as I wish it wasn’t true, it is true.
Mental illness isn’t just something that you have and then one day you wake up and it’s gone and you never have to worry about it again. For those of us that struggle with it, it is a constant battle. Sometimes when I think about this, it just makes me feel really awful. Am I really going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life? Are people ever going to treat me normally? Do I really want to keep living like this? The answer is yes.
When I start thinking like this I just have to remind myself to take it day-by-day; while your mental illnesses might not ever be totally gone, they will not always be as bad as they may be at this point.
Remember this, write it down, take a screenshot, I don’t care, just don’t forget it. Things will not be perfect, and a lot of the times they might be totally miserable... and that is okay. But that doesn’t mean that this life is not worth living. Take a break, breathe, go for a walk, eat some food that you like, binge watch YouTube videos or shows on Netflix. Whatever will get your mind off it because your head is not a good place to be when you’re feeling down, trust me. But. promise me one thing, don’t give up on life, no matter how bad it gets, not now, or ever. "
Story by: Sara Culclasure, Clemson University's Campus Representative