Depression and anxiety had completely taken over my life at the age of 19. At 19, I was completely done with life. I was ready to die. I was ready to leave all the friendships I had ever known and all the family I had ever learnt to love. I want to share my story with you, so you know that you do not have to do this alone.
My struggles started at the age of 15, when I had gone through somewhat a traumatic incident in high school. I went from being jovial, full of life, bright and brilliant to quiet, self-hating and isolated. At this point of time, I had heard of the term depression but didn't think it was what I was experiencing. I told myself that it was just PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; and it would be gone in no time at all. The incident that had altered my personality never seemed to go away, but I drowned myself in books as I was about to sit for one of the two major exams I had to face in high school. I got through it with flying colors and my parents were extremely proud of me.
Time went on and things got better, I had forgotten about the ordeal; not completely - but definitely progressively. I was never again the old, happy me. My parents assumed it was me growing up - and so did I. Then, I lost my grandfather.
I spent the 3 month break I had before starting college staying with my grandmother. It was lovely, I spent my time lazing around and talking to her about her past and she enjoyed telling me stories of how she grew up. The loss of my grandfather still feels unreal. There are days I'd tell my cousins or my family that I can't believe it's been over a year that he's left us all. I think death leaves behind a void that time doesn't really heal - time doesn't heal all wounds, just the wounds you choose to nurse.
Then, I started college. Things were alright for the first couple of months and then, everything started going downhill. I was no longer interested in going for classes, and all I wanted to do was sleep, really. I wasn't eating - I could go two days without a single sip of water and my sleep schedule was altered terribly. I spent my afternoons and evenings asleep and would be wide awake from 10 at night to 4 in the morning. The world that I had built was falling apart and I could not piece it back together. I was in so much of mental pain that I resorted to self-harming. I would sit in the shower and cry for hours sometimes, praying that my sadness would go away and everything would return to the way it was. I could no longer write poems, or read. I didn't want to go out and I wanted to do everything in my power to be dead.
Not long later, I started counting on alcohol and cigarettes to get me through my days. I would find comfort for nothing more than a night and then find myself back to square one - alone, hurting, upset, tired. I hadn't felt anything like that and thought that I was just being lazy, but my mind knew it was more than just that. My results deteriorated and I was forced to open up to the lecturer who was in charge of the Student Council. I joined the Student Council because I was terrible at making friends - I sat through two semesters in college and had held less than 10 conversations with my classmates. I remember having nightmares at night when my lecturer said that we had to pair up in groups of 4 for every lab session. I was terrified at the very idea of having to talk to 3 strangers for one whole hour - I didn't show up for any lab sessions that semester.
My lecturer suggested that I see the college psychologist. I met her once and she was pretty straightforward - what I was experiencing was depression and anxiety. She urged me to see a psychiatrist to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to understand fully the seriousness of my mental health. I was afraid and I could not do it. I didn't know how I was going to tell my parents that I was depressed - I wasn't able to get out of bed and I was crazy. I was crazy - or so I made myself believe. I was agitated - how could she tell me that? I was terribly devastated at the fact that once again - I had let my parents down.
I skipped therapy after that, only to find myself getting worse - day by day, week by week. I was terrified at the idea of depression and medication. At the age of 19, I had attempted suicide close to ten times. I would sit by the balcony of the apartment I was living in at weird hours of the morning and say my goodbyes in my head, and be too afraid to leap because my mum's face would flash in front of my eyes. I would take the blade and hold it to my wrists and say this is it, just a little deeper this time. The voices in my head grew louder and the rocks in my chest became heavier. I would think - maybe pesticide, maybe asphyxiation, maybe drowning. All these thoughts and yet, something was holding me back. Hope - perhaps?
There was literally no more order left in my life. I was in a terrible state when one of my friends had asked me to move in with her - fearing my safety. She made me breakfast, talked to me, made me take regular showers and planned dinner. I had the best friends in the world - to which I owe my life. They saved me; through God, through faith, through kindness, through understanding, through love, care and compassion. Then - it was rock bottom. I was on the edge of my life when I had no choice but to inform my parents.
They decided that I would return home. I will always remember that day. My best friends and I held hands on my bed - formed a prayer circle and prayed for my recovery. That very image still brings tears to my eyes. I came home and had no choice but to see a psychiatrist and this time, quitting wasn't an option. I was very quickly diagnosed and put on antidepressants. I go for psychotherapy once every two weeks. I wasn't able to leave my house for over a month but I have made some progress. My shoulders feel lighter - I do not have to carry the weight of the world. I have given up smoking and drinking, recovery is my only goal.
At 19 years old, I was this close to death. At 19 years old, I survived the darkest days of my life. At 19 years old, I fought for my survival and made it out alive. I made it out alive. You may think a 19 year old has yet to see the world, and I may be too young to say anything at all. But always remember, you are never alone. Maybe you think your sadness will always be a part of you, maybe the voices will keep talking to you, maybe your nightmares will never stop. But you do not have to do this on your own.
Just today I returned from a vacation with my family - we really needed it. We went out to dinner and I saw probably the prettiest sunset in the world - it's on my Instagram account! Then, we decided to go shopping and I walked into a bookstore and flipped one of the self-help books and came across a quote that caught my attention - " it is better to light one candle, than to curse at the dark".
I'd like to think that that was life's way of telling me that better days are coming and that; was my new beginning.
That was my sunset, that was my new beginning.
**I am a fighter, and I am worthy of life.