Personal Stories

The Fight for My Life

Hello, my name is Rebecca. I am studying broadcast journalism at a university with a small group of friends. My friends might be a bit different than your friends, or they might be exactly the same. You see, many of my friends don’t know how to “deal” with me. I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for ten years now. This disorder is not uncommon. My personal experience in dealing with this disorder began when I was eleven. Raging stomachaches and terrifying panic attacks became a commonality in my life. There was no warning when a panic attack would strike. For those lucky enough to have never had a panic attack, it feels like your throat is closing up and you can’t breathe. Your heart beats so fast that you swear it will come out of your chest. You shake and become dizzy, sometimes even seeing black spots. Panic attacks may not seem like a big deal, but they are terrifying to go through. You feel as though your personal safety is at risk, not matter where you might be. This is one evil of anxiety. 

Once I became slightly adjusted to dealing with anxiety every day, I slowly learned how to live life again through therapy. Therapy worked for quite a while and eventually I didn’t need it anymore. Then came the summer of my junior year of high school. Depression struck me. It was the first time I had ever thought of killing myself. I wondered what the world would be like without me in it. I was sleeping most of the day. I didn’t have much of an appetite, and I was being bullied at school for being “too thin.” I received nicknames such as “twig,” “string,” “stick,” “bean pole,” as well as others. My friends even used them. Boys would ask me out on dates as a joke. The first few times I thought they were serious, until I heard them run back to their friends and laugh. The world is a cruel place, and I wanted out.

With my senior year of high school, the depression had passed. I was happy again, excited for college, and ready to pursue my degree in nursing. The course work was hard, but my first semester I made straight A’s and the Dean’s list. My spring semester was a different story. My depression came back with a vengeance. 

I loathed myself. I began self-harming. It was a way to punish myself for not being the daughter my parents deserved to have and not being the friend my friends deserved. I was ashamed of myself and of my body. I made multiple plans to kill myself as I would lay in bed, unable to get myself up and ready for class. I was able to make it to some of my classes, but not nearly as often as I needed to be. I would be berated by my professors about my tardiness and absences, leading to more self-harm. I began seeing a social worker in the area as a form of therapy, as well as seeing a counselor at school. Neither helped much and none of the antidepressants they put me on were working. I was desperate. My family talked about taking me to the hospital. I didn’t originally like the idea, but I knew I needed help.

Those were the longest four days of my life. While I was in the hospital, I would spend a lot of time in the lounge, keeping to myself. There were two lounges, and I decided to use the less crowded one for a change. A man a few years older than me–I was eighteen at the time–sat next to me and began a conversation. We were so engaged in conversation that I didn’t notice he began to touch my knee. Then he touched my thigh. I moved away from him, but he just came closer. I was too scared to tell him “no,” as he was bigger than I was. He began trying to unbutton my night gown, so I got up and ran as fast as I could to my room. He was released the next day, but I was still terrified. I never went into that lounge again.

I spent my New Year’s in there. I hated every minute of it. After four days and a diagnosis of bipolar depression later, I was released. I had never been so happy to see my family before. Unfortunately, that would not be my last visit to the hospital.

I found a new therapist that I really liked; however, she didn’t trust me. I would sometimes have a breakdown in her office. During one break down, a woman in charge of the practice threatened to take me to the hospital by force if I didn’t go on my own. I knew I wouldn’t kill myself. I still had dark days where it crossed my mind, but I wouldn’t kill myself. Sadly, I had to make my way back, but to a different hospital. This hospital was nicer, though it was still three days of hell only being able to see my family for one hour a day. There were no bad incidents, thankfully, and my medication had been readjusted.

I can remember all the lows of my depression. I tried to lock the door and take pills until my mother forced it open and stopped me. My mother would sleep on my floor to make sure I wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night and try something. I learned to tie a noose, but once again my mother found out and stopped me. I would cry until I felt I was going to throw up because I wanted to die so badly. All the days I dreamed of dying, all the wishes and prayers I made to not wake up in the morning and all the self-harming didn’t help me, though. It was just easier to think that way than to push myself to move, to think happy thoughts, to bring myself to be around people.

I relied on God a lot throughout my dark days. I rely on Him still today. I knew that if one committed suicide, the Bible says one won’t go to heaven. After all, your life is a gift from God, not a right. Your life is His to give and His to take away. I knew that if I killed myself, I would never see my family again. Love, faith and my mother kept me alive. They continue to encourage me to this day. My psychiatrist finally found a combination of medications that work for me and I don’t have as many dark days anymore. No combination will be a cure-all; however, I fought the good fight. Each and every night for four years, I fought for my life. I continue my fight every day. I knew ever since a NAMI speaker came to my abnormal psychology class that I wanted to share my story, even if it helped just one individual.

So this is my story. You may relate, you may not. If my experience is something someone can relate to and learn from, then I am truly grateful. Keep fighting the good fight. Have faith, talk to people, but never give up on yourself, because neither I nor God will ever give up on you.

 


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