Friday, October 30, 2009

"There were times when I would just stare at the mirror and could not believe I was looking at myself."

Emily, age 18. Georgia.

"I blame my doctor for ruining my life. Rationally, I know it's not his fault, but I need someone to blame for my anxiety. I was sixteen. I was a junior in high school and I wanted to die. Everyday I would force myself to go to school, only to sit in the bathroom for long periods of time, waiting for my lungs to breathe, my heart to stop pounding and my body to stop sweating. I would come home only to collapse and sleep for hours. When my mother took me to the doctor, I didn't want to tell him what was happening to me. To me, my anxiety was a sign of weakness, a flaw in my otherwise perfect world. He told me I was depressed, prescribed me some Prozac, and moved on to the next patient. He didn't care that inside I was screaming just as loud as the baby in the next room. No one cared. I was all alone, fighting a war against nothing, and losing.

When my senior year began, I had already been on several different medications including Xanax. For most seniors at my high school, this was the best year of their lives. For me, it was torture. I couldn't force myself to get up and go to school anymore, I was so exhausted all the time. There were times when I would go for the last thirty minutes of the day just so I wouldn't fall too far behind. I begged to be homebound, a program that allows those who are sick or unable to go to school to work from home, but my doctor would not sign the papers. I spent the next few months trying to convince him that I would be better if I could just stay at home. Nothing changed his mind. So I would go to school and sob in the bathroom, call my mom at work and tell her how much I wanted to die. I missed sixty four days of my senior year before he told my mom to take me to the hospital pysch ward.

They admitted me over a weekend in March. I still cannot talk about how much I hated being there, withdrawing from my favorite addiction, my Xanax, feeling actually crazy for the first time. I am so mad that no one would help me, just stick me in a hospital and ask me the stupidest questions in front of pretentious college doctors. After my hospital stay, nothing changed except my doctor finally allowed me to be homebound. I still felt myself being sucked away into nothing.
I graduated. I was done. I still had depression and I still hated myself. There were times when I would just stare at the mirror and could not believe I was looking at myself. This wasn't me. I was not the girl who was looking back at me. She was killing me, slowly but surely. I didn't trust myself.
It's been six months since then and I can honestly say I feel the best I've felt in years. I'm finally happy and I don't know why. I'm not in college and I still live at home. My days consist of planning for the future. But I feel good. I introduced myself to my therapist yesterday, even though I've been seeing her since March. The reason? She had never met the real me. This is who I am. Not the girl who let her anxiety and depression control her. So, hello, I'm Emily. I still struggle with my anxiety and depression, but now I have something I didn't have before. Hope."

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