"I have struggled with clinical depression and anxiety since puberty. I had contemplated suicide many times during numerous low points throughout my teens and early twenties, and sometimes found myself turning to cutting as a method of release. Despite these difficulties, it was not until April 21, 2013, that I reached the point of actually attempting suicide.
At the time, I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. I lived in fear of my friends and family finding out, and as a result, I isolated myself from any and all help. I lived in shame and secrecy, careful to never speak to him too much about my struggle with depression since he believed that I did not 'try hard enough' to overcome it, and that I 'used it as an excuse' to behave in a way he didn't approve of.
After a particularly bad night, I woke up the next morning with my arms and neck covered in yellow bruises. I believed that I would never amount to anything, that I was toxic, and that I would never be happy again. I took an entire bottle of Xanax in desperation, hoping that I simply wouldn't wake up again. As I watched white lights flash behind my eyes and felt myself slipping into unconsciousness, I thought, what have I done?
I spent the following week in the mental health unit at the hospital. There, I spoke with a caring team of social workers and doctors. I met others who understood what depression feels like. Sometimes, I still wonder how they are doing.
I still faced a long, uphill battle, but when I left the hospital, I felt for the first time that I was moving in the right direction. I was getting the help that I needed, and learning to not be afraid to reach out for support from loved ones. It would be another year and a half before I had the courage to end the abusive relationship, but the day finally came when I said, 'enough.'
Depression and anxiety are ongoing struggles, but each day I grow stronger. I surround myself with positive and loving people. I embrace challenges at work, and seek out opportunities to try new things. For the first time in what feels like years, I am unapologetically myself.
I've chosen to share my story today in hopes that someone who may be suffering will read these words and know that there is hope. Despite the widespread stigma surrounding mental illness, you can find those who understand your everyday battle and are willing to help. Never let anyone convince you that you are not worthy of love and respect.
Above all, you are valuable, loved, and can always get back up no matter how far you've fallen."