Pills. Therapy. Support system. Pain. Self-destruction. More pills. More Therapy. Slow loss of support system. Repeat.
Depression isn’t a pretty picture. It isn’t just feeling sad. You feel anger, resentment, self-hatred, anxiety, loneliness, loss of time, fatigue, and body aches. I, like millions of others on this planet, suffer from depression. I should have put “suffered” for me personally because I am one of the few that has overcome it. For a lot of people, this may feel like something that isn’t a possibility, but I assure you it is.
Everyone heals and deals with their depression differently, so I am not here to show you the “right” way because there is none. There is only your way. For me, the pills did nothing. It only left me feeling foggy and actually didn’t stop my depression. It just coated over it like a fresh new batch of paint on the wall. But as the paint dried, it started to chip off and fall apart.
It took me over 10 years to overcome my depression. I used to cut. I stared down the barrel of a gun before. It was hard times and not many people know this about me. Since I am a storyteller, I would like to tell you my story about how I dealt with my depression in the beginning, which I wasn’t dealing with it at all.
It all started when my family moved to a town called Clovis in the state of California. It wasn’t like we moved, and then BAM! Depression. It was a very slow decline. We had moved from Fresno, and I had attended an elementary school that was about three years behind the Clovis school system. My grades plummeted, but my parents were sympathetic.
They did what any good parents would do and got me a tutor. They spent hours helping me with my homework, but nothing was clicking. Now at this school, it wasn’t cool to be dumb. If you failed a test, didn’t turn in your homework with all the other kids, and didn’t get that gold star every day, you’d get made fun of. You’d get those stares from the students. as the teacher handed out last week’s test. There it was in bright red, my F. I always tried to hide my poor test scores, but to no avail. Having the tutor only made me embarrassed and further pointed out to my peers how stupid I really was.
Also, because my family was new to the mostly white suburban neighborhood, I was regarded as poor despite living in the same houses as them. Quite literally. Every home was nearly identical. We were outsiders. We were Fresno people. We were poor. We were dirt. We were “new money.” And we were colored.
Now no one blatantly said any of this out loud, but it didn’t take long to catch on to what others were thinking. In my third grade class, it was only me and one other student that were the minorities. In the entire school, I could count how many minorities there were, and I saw how most of them hung out with one another. I was only eight or nine years old, but even then I knew about racism.
It was hard making friends because I was so awkward as a child. I was goofy and not in a good way. I was one of those awkward kids who tried too hard to fit in, and as a result, I got laughed at a lot. The other kids tried to stifle their laughter, but I knew it was there.
The first few friends I made didn’t last long. I was so desperate to have friends that I clung to them. We had times of fun, but my slowly built up resentment towards those that bullied me had started to make me bitter.
I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember the feelings I felt. I’m in no way a saint. I’m sure I did my fair share of bullying as well (from what old classmates had told me later on in my adult years) but as a result of being bullied myself. It was a defense mechanism, and I found that I was losing my friends. I remember one of my friends approaching me with her mother nearby watching us. She said to me, “My mother told me that I can’t play with you anymore. You’re not good for me. You’re a bad influence.”
It felt like I had been stabbed in the stomach. I had lost my friends because I wasn’t good enough. I was a bad person. Someone’s parent could even see how worthless I was. These were the things I told myself.
Now I never told my parents any of this because they had other things to worry about. I had three older sisters that they needed to keep their eye on. The last of their worries should be some kid getting bullied.
This only fueled more anger within me. A group of girls in the same grade as me rallied against me, and they all started to hang out during recess and refused to talk to me. I supposed I deserved it since I hadn’t been the best person. I decided to close myself off to everyone. I knew I was being mean to others because of the bullying I faced. I was trying too hard to fit in and others saw it as pathetic.
I hung out in the library during recess and started to help out the librarian with organizing books. I personally hated reading, but I enjoyed organizing things and I was away from all the other students. Then the group of girls that didn’t like me started to help out the librarian as well, and one day I was told there was no more needed help since all the other girls took all the open slots.
So that’s when I started to help the janitor with helping to clean the cafeteria. Other students would help, and we’d get candy afterward. Mostly it was for those that had lunch detention, but I volunteered to help because I had nowhere else to go. Then those girls came around and started helping the janitor as well. One day I was told the same thing that I was told by the librarian: there was no more needed help.
I spent my recesses alone out in the schoolyard. That’s when I started to write stories. I wrote short stories with pictures, and then I’d read them to my uncle whenever he came over to visit. It was at that time, that I knew I was meant to be a writer. I had such a strong passion for it. To this day, I still have the folder filled with all my short stories I had written.
By the time fourth grade rolled around, I was angry. I was done being the victim. I took it upon myself to be the bully first before I could be bullied. That year quickly spiraled out of control and my anger got out of hand to the point that I had threatened to kill another fellow student. Granted, a lot of other students didn’t like her because she was one of the biggest bullies. She was the Regina George of the elementary school, but that doesn’t mean she deserved to be threatened. Doing that made me pause and reflect. What the hell was I doing? This isn’t who I am.
The following year I decided to make amends and be nice, but I was still stuck with the problem of not fitting in. Whoever these girls were was just not me, but I figured it was better than being an outcast and being hated. So I faked it. I faked being whomever these girls wanted me to be and fit into this role of what they deemed as proper and comfortable for them.
They spent their time creating wedding catalogs with their fancy markers. I thought this was a pointless and boring activity. I didn’t want to spend my time planning a future wedding that might never happen. Besides, there were much better things we could be doing like playing pretend and imagining far off worlds. Still surprised I hated reading? That’s because I was never any good at it. Like I said, I wasn’t very good at school and learning.
As much as I hated these boring and mundane activities I played along. I pretended to be that girl that enjoyed playing office and playing house as the domestic housewife. They spoke about boys and would rate how cute each boy in the class was, and I played along even though inside I was dying. My father always taught me and my sisters to learn how to fit into any role in life, but he never said how painfully dreadful it might be to my soul.
By the end of my fifth grade year, I felt like a shell of a person. I looked at myself in the mirror and hated who I was. Who was I exactly? I’m not who these girls want me to be. Am I broken? Am I bad? Will I forever be alone?
Hating myself was like the cherry on top of everything. By sixth grade, I was depressed. I had it all: the anxiety, the anger, the resentment, the loneliness, and the self-hatred. It was during that year, when I was only twelve years old, that I first thought about suicide.
To be continued…
If you are struggling and you need help, please call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255