For most of my life I have suffered alone. When I was in 7th grade, I started having severe bouts of anxiety and sadness that I couldn’t get rid of. I started to realize that what I was going through was depression, so I went to the doctor to see if there was anything I could do. I didn’t tell my parents about what I was going through because I never wanted to worry them, so when the doctor diagnosed me with severe chronic depression and anxiety I had to turn down the medication he prescribed or I would have had to tell my parents.
Instead, I attempted to turn to my friends. I told them about the things I was going through, the terrible depression, the anxiety, the horrid thoughts I had about how easy it would be to just end my life. I thought if I opened up to these people that I would at least have some support. They accused me of trying to get attention and lying. They stopped hanging out with me, stopped talking to me, and eventually wouldn’t even look at me when we walked past each other at school. I felt completely and utterly alone, more so than I have ever felt in my entire life.
I ended up spending most of my time alone and reading, either in the library or in a corner somewhere in the school. I barely spoke to anyone except for my teacher. To make matters worse some teachers praised me in front of the classes for having grades above everyone else’s. Because of this I became the focus for abuse from other students. While my parents thought I had joined wrestling and football, I had actually been sent to the hospital multiple times for the beatings I had received from other students telling me to “stop making everyone else look bad.” I was beaten up on a regular basis and tortured emotionally an psychologically in between. I was called gay and other words that I won’t say.
I attempted suicide twice during that time. The first time I was able to stop myself, but the second time I was lucky enough to be stopped by someone walking by my house who saw me in the window. He happened to be one of the local District Attorneys who would later become my mentor and one of my closest friends.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I finally opened up to my parents about what had happened. I told them about my depression, the anxiety, the attempts to take my own life, and the bullying and abuse that I had taken from the other kids in my school. My parents had had no idea about everything that had been going on. After this I was able to be treated by a doctor, was given medication and have recovered from most of the effects of my disability.
I now work for a university in Colorado working with incoming freshmen and helping them to adjust to a new portion of their lives. I am able to work with many students who suffer from similar or worse things than myself. It is these people, my mentor and now my students, who push me forward each day. They are the motivators in my life to make a difference and remove the stigma. They are the people that help me get up in the morning and the reason I now live up to the meaning of my name – laughter.
Depression and anxiety can have terrible effects on people, especially when you are going through them alone or don’t know what is going on. By reaching out and making a difference, by fighting against the stigma that society has put against people suffering from mental disability, more people can be saved from its effects.