For all of us, life is like a rollercoaster. One huge ride with many twists and turns and unexpected drops that catch us by surprise. Many people enjoy rides and get an exhilarating rush of adrenaline. I, along with many other people however, do not. Instead, my ride so far has been bumpy and rather scary and daunting. At times, it felt like the terror would never stop… at times it felt like I was numb to the scare and became hopeless at caring. At times, I felt alone. Well, a lot of the time. Welcome to my story.
As a sixteen-year-old female, some would be surprised that I’ve had to deal with depression and anxiety. “What could you possibly be depressed about at that age?!” Well, a hell of a lot, actually. In my eyes, society is descending into an unstoppable whirlpool of darkness due to the increasing pressure of wanting to feel accepted. As a relatively smart kid, all my life I’ve felt pressurised to do well in school and anything less than excellent was frowned upon in schools and at home. It wouldn’t matter if I worked myself into break downs, tears and anxiety to scrape a B grade – it still wasn’t good enough. Spending six hours sat down and forced to memorise information before getting home to piles of essays and homework that lasted a further two to three hours was beyond stressful. Of course, school is not the only factor that pushed me into darkness, but family matters and relationships with people too – as expected. I won’t delve into detail about being part of a somewhat dysfunctional family, nor will I pour my torn heart out about disloyalties I’ve encountered with people. But what I will share with you is how I fell into society’s sick trap of wanting to feel accepted.
Since a young age, I was quite a chubby child. Having a slim, long-legged beautiful elder sister and average-sized parents, I often felt misplaced not only at home but at school too. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been bullied for my weight. I was never huge, just bigger than a large majority of people around me. Throughout my young years I thought nothing of it! I lived my life covered in chocolate spread, watermelon juices, prancing about in nothing but my underwear and coming back dirty after playing football outside for hours with my neighbours. What did I care? Once entering year three I soon became aware that I was different. I soon became made to feel like I was less worthy than anyone else. I used to hate PE classes for two reasons: I hated getting changed in front of everyone else and I used to always get picked last in teams because I’d get out of breath easily and not be much use panting on the side-lines because of a stitch. I dreaded it. Slowly but surely, I began hating my body. I would stand in front of the mirror and just stare. I would point out each of my flaws and compare myself to others. I avoided weighing myself and replied, “I don’t even remember” every time someone would ask how much I weighed. Yes – people these days do ask out of curiosity and to compare. It’s bizarre – I know. I could never understand why people isolated me due to my weight… I’d often cry myself to sleep and silent-weep into my pillow because I felt like I’d never ever find anyone that would think I was attractive. The girls who often got a lot of attention throughout school life were the slim girls with amazing hair, expensive fashionable clothes and exceptional social skills. I just could not understand why I felt so lonely.
Getting into my teen years now, I’ve never been more aware of the affect my childhood has had on me. Loathing my body, my face and excessively feeling anxious about going home to tell my parents I got a C or D in a test became the norm. I felt like a failure. As more and more things began happening in my life, it got worse. I began comfort eating and constantly found myself comparing what I saw in the mirror to what had the most likes on Instagram. I was never enough for myself. My kind heart began attaching to people out of the desire to have people in my life for the sake of not feeling alone – anyone. I settled for anyone. It was only recently that I realised as soon as I began forming relationships with people, I would subconsciously want to make them a better person. I would always push the boat out to be there any way I could. Why? Because I felt I had no one doing this for me and so I gained unimaginable satisfaction from helping others. However, with this came my self-neglect. I focused so much on people that I forgot about myself. The girl that was once the ‘fat girl’ became the girl that lost 10kg in the space of five months.
“Oh my God! You have lost SO much weight! How did you do it?!” Suddenly everyone began noticing me. Did I intend on losing weight? No. If anything, I couldn’t control it. A dramatic loss of appetite and all pleasure of eating down the drain, I found my health was the worst it had ever been. I no longer felt like getting out of bed in the morning. I no longer felt like eating. I no longer felt like talking to anybody. I trapped myself. Having to deal with emotional pain constantly, I soon obtained multiple scars on my wrists and even one on my stomach because – to me – it was a way of numbing the emotional torment that went on in my head. Sleepless nights did anything but improve my performance in school. People noticed me changing. People noticed me covering up. People noticed me now more than ever. Why?
Now, I am none the wiser and stronger than I ever have been. Along my journey of wanting to escape the world, I stumbled across amazing people that offered me knowledge to completely turn my life around. Trying to be positive at a time where all you see is darkness is hard, to say the least. Getting out of the suffocation of my sorrows was one of the hardest things to do. I want you to understand that healing is a slow process and I tackled it one step at a time. I began with finding optimistic reasons for the hurt in my life. I began believing that pain is not permanent – it is what you make it. If you wake up feeling like you can’t tackle the world, the rest of your day will pan out in that same negative vibration you’ve let off. One of my biggest problems that took ages for me to pinpoint was self-pity. I realised that I did nothing but feel sorry for myself instead of attempting to change my state of mind. I slowly learned that if you convince yourself enough that you’re so used to suffering, it will never vanish. From one sufferer to another, I ensure you with my honest words that it does get better! But only once you start making a change.
Instead of looking at my life and thinking I had the worst possible life in the entire universe, I grasped the mindset that someone out there always, always, always has it worse than me! I may not be pleased with my family most of the time, but at least I have a family to come home to, to eat with and to live with. I may not be pleased with my grades, but at least I’m entitled to free education where I’m given the chance to learn. It is crucially important that you realise this. Once you start comprehending that your life really is not as bad as it could be, you will unnoticeably start to be more grateful. Not only grateful for your life, but grateful for your pain. Your pain and struggles make you who you are. If you were born problem-free, how would you know how to conduct yourself when you encounter the slightest problem? No pain no gain can absolutely be applied regarding mental health. Without my life of insults and looking “different” compared to everybody else and without my battle of anxiety and patches of depression, I would not be as strong as I am today. I take life as it comes and I know the ways in which I can stop myself from falling back into the black hole I was once sucked into.
Finding ways that you can help yourself and not always rely on others is immensely important in contributing to changing your state of mind. For example, I now keep a hair band on my wrist to remind myself that I’ve managed to get through my hardships whenever I feel low and feel like reverting to what I used to do. On top of this, whenever I feel as if the world is caving in, I write poetry and express whatever I’m feeling through my words – this is my most successful cure. I urge you to find something you either truly enjoy or find a way that allows you to unload all of your negative emotions without harming yourself or others, or feeling as though you’ve failed afterwards. Simple things like talking to people about what’s on your mind – even though you may not want to seem a burden – is a great way of clearing your mind, taking some weight off your shoulders and allowing a pathway that enables people the chance to help you.
You are strong. You will get through it. You are important. You are not alone.
**DISCLAIMER** If you or someone you know is going through similar experiences, please don’t stay quiet – seek help. No matter what level you think your suffering is at, don’t ever hold back from reaching out. If you feel you can’t speak to anyone personal to you, try to talk to a counsellor (be it a school one or a medical one) or even professionals online. Here are some links below you may find useful: