This Road is Long, but Worth It. When I was a young child I was fairly happy, but had a difficult time coping with ordinary failures and mistakes. I blamed myself for everything and found ways of punishing myself. I can recall hitting myself and pulling my hair at an age as young as six. I took a lot of responsibility for the actions of my siblings. When my parents fought I blamed myself. Thoughts such as “I had done the chores that [my brother] didn’t do, [my] dad wouldn’t get so mad” presented themselves frequently. As my siblings got older, they were relentlessly mean to me. My two brothers frequently ganged up on me and terrorized me. I took this to mean that they hated me. By this point I was perhaps eight years old and was beginning to doubt myself and began growing unhappier. A lifetime of moving and fighting had pushed me to the point of thinking much lower of myself than a normal eight-year-old would. My only saving grace was the praise I received for being “smart.” I still had huge dreams of becoming an astronaut (though that quickly changed to veterinarian after watching the ASPCA commercials) and had memorized endless facts about outer space and other random bits of trivia. I was accepted into the school’s gifted program and got the teacher of my dreams. Things began to change when we moved across the country two months into the school year. My new teacher was much less supportive and even seemed to look down on my lack of knowledge of my new state. I quickly found friends, but was bouncing in between friend groups. My siblings took their frustrations out on me, which I interpreted as being hated. I had issues with a friend of mine hating my other friends and attempting to manipulate me into avoiding them. This didn’t particularly help boost my confidence and I felt a bit out of place. I eventually found new friends who were much more supportive. My social life never particularly bothered me. My home life was different. My parents fought a little less, but I still blamed myself for the fights they had. I had grown fully convinced that nobody truly cared about me, and even that some hated me. By the time I left elementary school, I had begun cutting myself and had contemplated suicide. Come middle school, being incredibly short and underdeveloped, I felt very out of place. My friend group had been split up and I was unsure of how to make new ones. I actually did make friends quickly and things started getting better and I hadn’t cut myself in several months. but by the end of that year, there was drama that made me question my social status and worth. Long story short a “best friend” thought I wasn’t cool enough and began spreading lies about me, but continued acting as if we were best friends. This had completely obliterated my ability to trust and I began cutting myself again. As before, I blamed myself. I ended up finding a new friend who actually cared about me. I had a hard time trusting her and this led to my being a pretty bad friend when she was going through similar experiences. Things at home weren’t improving either. Come the end of middle school, I had no idea who I was and was incredibly suicidal. I was ridiculously depressed and my anxiety led me to believe I wasn’t worthy of anything. Come high school, I was content socially. I found it easier to trust my friends and came to the conclusion that they cared about me, and that’s all that mattered. Internally, I was struggling. I was diagnosed with ADHD (non-attentive type) and was put on medication for that. The medication made my undiagnosed anxiety much worse and I began having frequent panic attacks. Eventually we sought out help for the ADHD and anxiety where I was immediately taken off of that medication. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, social anxiety and depression. I was given medication for it but continued to get worse. By the end of my freshmen year I was cutting regularly and had attempted suicide. I had no self-esteem and was missing school regularly. I was put on a new medication that summer for ADHD and that made my depression much worse. I then stopped taking it and things improved a little. I cannot remember much of my sophomore year because my depression was at the worst it has ever been. By that winter, I’d fallen into the worst depression of my life. My self-harm nearly landed me in the hospital as did a suicide attempt. I was abusing medications by this point. I was failing my classes which brought a major blow to my self-esteem as my entire self-worth at that point had been rooted in the fact that I was supposed to be the smart one. I then went to a new psychiatrist who changed my prescriptions to something that was meant to help. I continued harming myself until that April. Things actually started getting better. I was still missing a lot of school, but I was determined to get better. I ended up failing three of my classes that year and repeated them in my junior year. I was clean all of my junior year and had stopped abusing medication. It wasn’t a great winter but it was better than the one before it. I still failed one class due to the school I missed. Mentally I began improving. Now, my senior year is almost over and in a lot of ways I’ve improved a lot. I still find it difficult to do a lot of things, but as the weather warms up and the sun comes out I find myself smiling. Recovery is hard, but it’s worth it. I know I’m nowhere close to being over it, I can’t say whether I’ll ever truly recover but I know things are going to get better. They already have gotten so much better. I’m due to start college soon. It’s been a really bumpy road but at least I’m still clean from self-harm. As it stands I’m nearly two years clean. I’m set to graduate in less than three months. I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without the support of my friends and family. I learned how to convert my emotions into art and took solace in music. I feel much healthier now than I did two years ago. Who knows where the road is going to lead me but I know it’s full of promise. Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.