I grew up in a home with a father who was always working and not emotionally available and a narcissistic, bi-polar mother. My older and only sister was the golden child of the family and could do no wrong so of course I wanted to be just like her. I was always a very sensitive and emotional child. I can remember sitting next to someone and feeling their pain. I was also a very artistic child. I was always putting on plays and singing. I appeared to be a very happy child on the outside. Inside I was anxious and depressed. When I was eleven I remember having my first bout with major depression. My parents had fought and fought for as long as I can remember but this time, after leaving with my mother for a few weeks and finally returning home, I couldn’t bring myself to feel happy. This happened a lot but I didn’t tell anyone about it instead I wrote and sang along to music that told my story, well at least the way I was feeling at the time.

At the age of fourteen I was raped by my boyfriend in the basement of my parents home. This threw me into a very deep depression and for the first time I started having panic attacks. Music and God were truly the only reason I made it through the days. I eventually began cutting, but on my thighs and other places that could only be seen by me. There were any number of suicide scenarios that played out in my mind nightly. I even attempted two of those but couldn’t get very far. As you can imagine my mother and I didn’t have the greatest relationship and her mental illness certainly affected mine because she was not, and still isn’t, dealing with it. By the time I had reached my senior year in high school I had missed a TON of days, but luckily I had taken enough dance and art credits at a local state college to graduate. In fact I didn’t attend the most of the last half of my senior year because I couldn’t get out of bed. I blamed most of it on migraines, which I did have, but the real reason I couldn’t get out of bed was because I really couldn’t get out of bed! When I finally broke down and told my mother about the rape, she somehow made it all about her of course, I started down the long road of medications. One made me drool and completely unable to hold a pen once it took effect and another made me completely manic. Over the years I’ve felt completely alone in my struggle to become me.

Feelings weren’t something to talk about, they were something to stuff away or if you did talk it was screaming. I’ve had many failed relationships and one failed marriage and I know that a lot of that was from me not being open about having depression and anxiety. Thankfully I have a husband who also understands depression. We talk. We are open. We don’t judge how the other is feeling. Having your feelings validated by your significant other, even just your family or friends, makes all the difference. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean that feeling they are having is invalid. I live in LA now and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. We’re all freaks in our own ways and in LA you can let that fly. I find now that being open and being completely myself that others who get it gravitate toward me. I have to give much love to the To Write Love On Her Arm project for giving me hope, but also giving me the power to use my voice for others who are going through what I went through. I now see my depression and anxiety as a gift. I can feel everything more deeply and understand others so much more than I could have without it. Just know that you are NOT alone and that you will make it through this. The more we talk about what we are going through the faster we can get rid of the stigma of mental health disorders. Love and Light.

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