Depression runs in my family; it’s genetic and there was no avoiding it.
Normally when something is genetic you have a 50% chance of getting it, but mine was on both sides.When I was 16 months old my mother decided to take her life. She battled major depression her entire life, so did her father and so would I.In early elementary school I was diagnosed with ADHD. Some people say you grow out of it but it continues to this day and is now in the form of adult inattentive ADD.Organizing my day, remembering simple orders, starting and completing even minimal tasks is a great chore.It’s no surprise that generalized anxiety was waiting just around the corner.
Middle school I was diagnosed with trichotillomania, an obsessive compulsive disorder.In school I found myself uncontrollably plucking the hairs from my head to reduce anxiety and found that if I tried to hold myself back I became anxious and my wrist on my left hand would throb. Soon enough I was unable to study or read or watch TV without my hand on my head.In high school my first major depressive episode hit. Day after day I would go to school and sleep in the back of the classroom for hours at a time under my coat.In college I began to suffer from eating disorders and consciously think about food every time I ate it. I felt guilty but then I would go so long eating such a minimal amount that I would end up eating way too much.
I began to switch off between episodes of anorexia and bulimia. The inconsistency in eating habits made me feel guilty, making my very last diagnosis body dysmorphic disorder.To this day I go through periods where I feel horrible pain inside me caused by my depression that cannot fully be understood by anyone who has not experienced it.I still have trouble focusing my attention and getting myself to do menial tasks that seem so easy to everyone else.Growing up it always frustrated me that people didn’t seem to understand, that there was a stigma- “ADHD just means you’re an airhead” or “anxiety just means you’re nervous” or “depression just means you’re sad.” They were all wrong.All of these mental health conditions have been with me my entire life. Sometimes an imbalance in my hormones causes them to come out, making a normal life almost impossible and too much to bare. Sometimes they sit quietly under the surface, regulated by medication.Sometimes you can’t see it, but I know it will never go away.
Over time I have learned more and more about my mental health conditions. Each day that I struggle, I also learn that I am beautiful, I am strong and I will persevere.Now as someone continuing to live with mental illness, it saddens me that mental illness is often misunderstood or simply disregarded. I decided it’s time to speak up!