- Posted May 5, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Going public with mental illness
Dealing with Depression as a Teen
If I were to tell a younger version of myself that I would end up dealing with a mental illness for the majority of my high school career, I wouldn’t have believed it. I was generally a happy, confident individual. I had straight A’s, I was a part of the National Junior Honor Society, and I had a core group of friends. Although I was thrown off course for awhile, I was slowly able to find myself again. I now see my depression as less of a setback and more of a learning and growing experience.
It was my second year of high school when my life started to change drastically. I was coming out of an emotionally abusive relationship at the same time my parents were ending their two decade long marriage. My self confidence was declining and without the ability to fully grasp what was happening, I started to sink into a depression. I was made to feel guilty by my peers who didn’t understand it was something I couldn’t control. I began to feel the same way; I blamed myself for not being able to be happy.
After a rough transition into winter, my depression was the highest it had ever been. I had never experienced a feeling like it before and I was terrified of my thoughts. In January of 2012 I took the liberty of checking myself into a hospital after a suicide attempt that left me more shaken than harmed. I began to see therapists and experimented with antidepressants to find the right one for me. It would not be until the middle of my junior year in high school that I found one that worked. Up until that point, however, school had been placed on the back burner as I made the decision of putting my mental health first. A great amount of stress and feelings of guilt and failure rested on my shoulders daily since I was so used to succeeding academically.
In January of 2013, my school set up a 504 program for me to attempt to catch up with my peers. (For those that don’t know, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that those with a mental or physical disability cannot be discriminated against, meaning I could take part-time classes and still be considered a full-time student.) At this point I had missed a year and a half of school and was falling terribly behind.
My motivation was simply wanting to walk across the stage with my classmates when I would graduate the following year. I began to take online classes in the vocational center of my school three days a week to try to work my way back into the school atmosphere. I had lost all of my friends, my future was still undecided, and I was scared. But by the end of May I was feeling like I was in more control of my situation; I had found an antidepressant that worked for me, I was being proactive about my grades, I was seeing a therapist regularly, and I was excited to start school in the fall as a full time senior.
I would be entering my senior year with 10.5 credits when I need 23 to graduate. I would have a lot on my plate to try to complete my required senior courses along with the handful of classes I had missed, but I was finally excited about my future and I was proud of myself for not letting depression define me as a person anymore.
As of right now, it is May of my senior year. I have made new friends and have repaired friendships that were ruined when I stopped going to school. I’m finally able to look into the mirror and be proud of what I’m looking at. I have earned 12.5 credits in one year and have persevered through times when I have wanted to do nothing but give up. It has been a long, hard road but I am on course to graduate with my class in June. I have applied and been accepted to college in Boston, MA to become a radiation therapist. It’s exciting to see where I was two years ago and where I am today, and I am happy that I can say I am a survivor.
Even though I would never want to endure what I had gone through again, I do appreciate my mental instability for making me the person I am today. While there were some extremely negative repercussions, I am mentally a stronger person now than I was before. I am able to see the beauty in life again, where for awhile, all I saw were the dark, dreary parts. I will always be fighting this battle against myself, but at least I now have the strength, knowledge, and confidence to be able to overcome any challenges in my future. I have learned that life is a precious opportunity and I intend on living it as such.