Author’s note: this is not about sunshine and clear skies—this is about my raw, honest experience with mental disorders. And it may not be as light and happy, but after reading my piece I wish you find some comfort in knowing that any battle you are facing now has an end. This is also a reminder that you and your story should not end just yet.
It’s been a couple of years since I actually felt excited or elated about anything.
I have a lot of things I am grateful for, but the feeling of happiness seems to evade me somehow. I’m calling this piece a “passenger’s ride,” because the past few years were a journey not under my control. I watched myself crumble further and deeper as depression and anxiety slowly engulfed me. I lost pieces of myself, and I still grieve the parts of me that used to make me who I am, but I can no longer see in myself.
And though my experience may not be exactly the same as yours, maybe you can understand through my story:
I was an overweight kid with dangerously low self-esteem and self-worth. Combine that with my raging hormones and the children I was surrounded with who, at the time, didn’t know any better but to be mean to the “fat girl.”
I was hard on myself. And I was really quiet—I kept the bullying and all my personal issues to myself.
I was my own safety—my mind was the only place that truly knew and understood all my struggles. I wanted to be a good daughter and student—one that somehow excelled in school. I say somehow because I didn’t really like studying, but I was able to excel in my studies until high school.
The problem when we pretend to be okay is that people believe us. The easiest lie to make is to say we are fine. Unfortunately, it’s also the most believable lie.
To the world, I was fine.
I was quiet…but I was fine.
I was a loner…but I was fine.
I was a grumpy kid…but I was fine.
I was always “sad”…but I was fine.
I wasn’t fine.
My mind started to hate me—probably from all the pressure it had to endure from all the thoughts I kept to myself. I never really felt appreciated by anyone when I was younger—not even by myself. I felt like I was just there and if people had the choice they would rather not have me around.
As I grew older, I believed that too. I wished I wasn’t around. But how do we escape from ourselves?
I hated the way I looked. Why am I so fat? Why don’t I have a smaller, pointier nose? Why can’t I have fairer skin?
I hated my personality. Why am I so unfriendly? Why am I so grumpy? Why am I a crybaby?
I hated myself for not being enough. And I hated being around people. I hated being anywhere. I hated every waking moment. I was self-destructing, but nobody could see.
I started cutting, and no, not for attention—I didn’t want anybody to notice. I just needed to stop myself from doing things that are more destructive. I needed to make my pain physical so it would be easier to deal with.
If I’m bleeding, then I need to make it stop. It was a lot simpler than suffering from something you can’t see. Every time I was overwhelmed, I cut. I cut deeper and bigger until I managed to pull myself back from my thoughts. And then, I started to have a very strange relationship with food. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been on the heavier side for most of my life. I realized that I felt better about myself when I was slimmer.
I ate less so I could feel in control, and I ate less to like myself a little bit more. I didn’t think it was anything serious until all my friends and family started noticing. People started to believe that there was something wrong and that, for the first time, it wasn’t my personality. They’d give me strange, sorry looks. They were worried about me.
I tried not to make anyone worry because I thought I could take care of myself. But this was something I could no longer take care of. For the first time in years, I was underweight. And I kept losing weight.
The difficulty of fighting a battle inside your head is that no one can really see it—not even you…until it affects you, physically. I don’t blame anybody for not knowing. I hid it, intentionally. It was my problem to deal with.
Because I hated myself so much, I became obsessed with receiving validation from other people. I needed people to tell me I was loveable and that I am enough just the way I am. I lost my excitement and passion for the things that used to make me happy. I felt nothing when I looked at food. I knew I had to eat, but I didn’t really like to eat anything.
I also stopped drawing. I haven’t been able to draw for the past four years. It breaks me when I think about it.
The worst part was forgetting what happiness felt like—and this is not an exaggeration.
When I went on a trip to the sea, I felt calm and peaceful. After I came back, I couldn’t remember what that calm and peace felt like. Reminiscing, for me, was like looking at somebody else’s photos—I would appreciate the beauty but feel detached at the same time. I couldn’t feel the way I felt back when I was happy. I couldn’t even remember what it felt like.
That was when I knew I needed help.
I’ll always be thankful for my sister who encouraged me to go to therapy, to take my medications, and to do the little things that helped me want to live. I badly needed help, and I had to finally admit that to myself. This was no longer something I can ignore or something that my distractions could help me get through. My distractions had slowly stopped working. I was at the end of my ledge, and I needed help to get off the edge to find safety…to find life.
Since I’ve been receiving help, I feel okay. I can tell people that and be sincere with my answer. I’m not yet living my best life, but I’m no longer wishing for my end.
I still haven’t recovered the past me completely, and maybe I have lost some parts of me in the process. I need to grieve for that and learn to create a new version of me who the past would be proud of. I still struggle with self-confidence and validation, but I no longer hate myself. The past me gave her best in everything she did. She loved unconditionally. She was always thinking of other people. I am so proud of that chubby little girl who always tried to make people feel how much she loved them.
I’m sorry I made her believe she was not worth anything because she deserves everything. And that is what I need to work on—I need to make up for all the love I didn’t give to myself. It’s about time to feel loved by my own heart and mind.
To anyone who is still in that dark place: please hold on. You’ll be thankful for not giving up on yourself. The version of you now deserves to see the person you’ll be in the future. So, hold on.
One day, you’ll be in charge of this trip, and your pains will just be passengers you need to drop off on the way.
One day, you’ll be on a different path with new scenery and you will be the one driving.
Keep holding on.