Personal Stories

Where to Go When You Have No Room Left to Grow

My name is Alyssa. I am 21-years-old and I am living with generalized anxiety disorder which has most recently manifested into depression.

To summarize, my parents divorced when I was nine-years-old and my father died tragically in a car accident when I was twelve-years-old. Because of this, I blocked out much of my childhood. Generally, I had always been a happy person who handled my emotions well. My friends and family had always defined me as strong and I took pride in that. However, my traumas did not affect me until later as I began my adult life.

When I was seventeen-years-old I had a serious car accident of my own which is when I noticed that my anxiety had first produced. It wasn’t until then that I began realizing how much my father’s death and my parents’ divorce affected me. Over the past few years my anxiety has increased and I began suffering from depression as well. Many recent stressors have contributed to my heightened conditions. These stressors range from college, work, relationship, family and living arrangement changes. Although most of these changes are normal milestones in life, too much change too quickly can be debilitating. I have been actively seeing a therapist for two years whom I love. But despite my attempts, my mental health condition continues to affect me.

It is extremely difficult being a young adult and trying to live a normal life the same way my friends are doing. As a college student in my early twenties I have tremendous amounts of pressure to be happy, focused and successful, all while balancing a social and school life. That stress is enough to make anybody cringe and crack from time to time. But being emotionally unstable makes the challenge exceptionally hard. I am constantly struggling to go out with my friends, get dressed up, with a lipstick smile painted on my face and drink like nothing’s wrong.

There are several things wrong with that situation. First, rather than focusing on my recovery I essentially end up masking my emotions and inner issues with alcohol. Secondly, this makes trial and error with behavioral medications ineffective. During the past six months, I have reached out to my primary care physician seeking anti-depressants for the first time.

I am currently experimenting with a second anti-depressant because the first did not work for me. If you don’t know, alcohol can have severe interactions with these types of medication. I was trying to maintain the lifestyle of partying that I was use to while also beginning new medication. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I couldn’t do both. My doctor told me I needed to cut out alcohol if I wanted to get better. Initially I was resistant to this idea. I thought I was different, “I could handle my alcohol better than most” I would say. Because of the interaction, I ended up blacking out every time I drank and I was having severe mood swings that affected my behavior. I allowed this to go on for three months before I really started thinking of cutting alcohol out of my life. In short, we couldn’t even determine if the medication was working for me because my drinking got in the way. Not to mention the alcohol naturally made my depression worse.

This has created greater emotional imbalances for me. In addition to dealing with my anxiety and depression, I have now been struggling with the idea that I may be developing a mild alcohol problem as well. Alcoholism runs in both sides of my family. So, at twenty-one-years-old I am now trying to get sober. Or at least get my drinking under control enough to where it is not an interference in my life. It’s difficult and frustrating because my friends don’t understand what I am trying to work out and accomplish within myself. I wind up keeping to myself and my friends think that I am mad at them and they constantly question what is wrong. They do not understand that I am ill. They do not understand that my medication won’t allow me to maintain a lifestyle of drinking. They do not understand that I am really trying to get better. This causes me to be distant from some of my closest friends and I am forced to miss out on events I am use to being a part of.

Although it is difficult to change your situation and even more difficult to adjust to those changes, I want young adults who are struggling with issues like mine to realize that taking care of your mental health is the right choice. Even if it means you are retracting from the life you are so accustomed to and your friends don’t understand you anymore. You are growing. Keep growing. I’ve learned that it is okay to outgrow anybody in your life. I am not better yet, but I will be all right again. Recovery is a constant battle. But if you can conquer yourself, you can conquer the world.


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