Live Through This

Ghost Rider

Keeping a secret doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it grow and grow until it swallows you whole.

Illustration by Sonja

In high school, my best friend with (limited) benefits had a ’94 Honda Civic that he used to 2 Fast 2 Furious with on the weekends, racing up and down the turnpike in between parking-lot cigarettes behind a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. When he wasn’t living life and tasting death or what have you, he was driving me around the back roads so that I could get ice cream, listen to the radio, and try to stop crying.

It was senior year, and I’d spent most of it having panic attacks at his house, sitting on a waterbed and trying to remember to move the oxygen through my body. They came at strange times, set off by a commercial, a song, by nothing at all. One minute I’d be OK, and the next I’d feel like I wanted to tear off my skin and separate myself from my bones. I’d get dizzy, then frightened, then angry, and then I’d cry for about an hour.

“I think I’m going crazy,” I’d say. “I think I already am crazy.”

“You’re not crazy,” he’d say. “Come on, let’s go for a ride.”

***

People like to warn you about cars when you’re a teenager, because they don’t want you to die in one. You are constantly given instructions on how not to kill yourself or anyone else while driving. You’re not always given instructions on how not to kill yourself while outside of a moving vehicle, aside from, well, don’t.

The year I got my license was the same year I started feeling tired all the time. It was a tired beyond tired, the kind of exhaustion that makes your entire body ache. I assumed it was the standard summer-to-fall adjustment process: I’d started three-hour swim practices; I was waking up early after a summer of sleeping in; I was staying up late to finish my homework. But as the months wore on and my body adjusted to the changes, the exhaustion seemed to linger elsewhere—in my heart, in my head. I just felt off, as if someone had come along and dimmed the lights a bit. I started to drag, to sense something dark floating around the tiny file cabinets that I’d always imagined lined the inside of my brain. But whenever anyone else seemed to notice the dark thing—a parent, a friend, whoever—I’d always give them the same explanation: “I’m fine. I’m just really tired.” Deep down I knew it was more than that, but part of me believed that if I covered it up well enough, it would eventually go away.

It didn’t.

***

Mental illness is a relentless ghost; no matter how many times I try to exorcise it, it finds a way to make a comeback. I had struggled with OCD in middle school—everything had to be done 11 times, or else—but by some cognitive-behavioral miracle I’d managed to shed my rituals after a year or so of mental torture. I never asked for help. I hid my rituals from everyone, with the exception of my seventh-grade science partner, who must have been born with the best heart in the world, as he never said a word to me or anybody else about the repeated prayers I’d do during our lab time together. I’d spend hours at night reciting special sayings over and over until I got them right, for fear that if I didn’t, terrible things would happen. After about a year of tapping my foot and biting my lip and writing and rewriting my homework 10 times, I finally realized that terrible things happen anyway; my dog died, my perfect grades slipped, my softball team went 0-16, and I was miserable all the time. I forced myself to stop counting. I thought I finally had my brain under control.

But the ghost, as ever, returned. It is a constant presence in my life. Sometimes it shows up as anxiety, and sometimes it shows up as depression. In high school, it showed up as both. It was brutal and relentless and never lifted and I swore I could fix it by myself, which I couldn’t.

I started hiding my depression right away in order to protect my parents. It sounds like a ridiculous idea now, 15 years later, but at the time I thought I could spare them a lot of pain by dealing with mine on my own. I didn’t want them to worry, or to be disappointed in me. I thought if I admitted that I needed help that it meant that I was too weak or too dumb—or worse, too “crazy”—to fix things on my own. I started trying to rationalize the dark thoughts I was having, the behaviors I was engaging in. Everybody gets sad, I thought, though I imagined that not everyone compulsively scratched their arms or fantasized about flinging themselves out of a third-story window.

I tried so hard to beat it, to keep it controlled, to keep it away from everyone else. I put it all in notebooks so that I wouldn’t be tempted to actually talk about it out loud, I kept all of my scratches well-hidden, and blared music in my room when I needed to cry. I pulled A’s in school and smiled when necessary and made sure to wash my face before coming to dinner, so that nobody would know I’d been crying. I faked it so real I was beyond fake, if you will. It was horrible.

Sometimes I have dreams where I’m forced to sit at a movie theater and watch something awful onscreen. I try to close my eyes, but then I realize that I’m dreaming, and my eyes are already closed, and there’s nothing I can do. I try to scream, but no sound comes out. I can try to look away but the terrible thing just keeps playing, and I sit there, unable to stop it, until everything goes black and I finally wake up.

That’s the best way I can describe what it feels like to deal with clinical depression on your own.

***

During my senior year of high school I drove around my hometown so often that I began to build an affinity for stupid things. I grew attached to the lights at the municipal airport, the seasonal flags everyone hung from their porches, the ugly green electrical boxes that lined the streets. Whenever I was moving, I felt better, as if the world couldn’t catch up to me while I had four wheels beneath my feet.

My best friend and I would drive for hours, him with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and me with my left hand glued to the radio. We always seemed to end up at Dairy Queen, eating Peanut Buster Parfaits and talking about where we’d be in two years, two months, two hours, two minutes. We decided we’d still be friends. Maybe we’d have sex, or something, since everyone thought we were doing it anyway. Maybe we’d have sex and I’d get pregnant and my parents would kill him and then he’d be a badass ghost. Maybe we’d just build a boat and float away somewhere. Maybe we should get another Peanut Buster Parfait.

“Do you think I’ll always be this fucked up?” I asked him.

“You’re not fucked up,” he said. Then he laughed. “Well, I mean, you’re fucked up, but it doesn’t have to be, like, forever.”

Only your best friend can tell you you’re fucked up and mean it in the nicest possible way. You are a mess, but you know, that’s OK, because I still love you.

“I think you just need, like, help,” he said. To know that you need help is one thing. To hear someone say it out loud is another. I realized that I needed someone to give me permission to stop hiding, to admit that I couldn’t do it on my own. I started to cry again, tears of sadness and acceptance and a tiny bit of relief, and he started the car and began to drive.

***

Here is something to remember about the people who love you: they love you.

It took me a few more months to admit that I needed help. By that time, I’d stopped eating Peanut Buster Parfaits. Unfortunately, I’d stopped eating everything else, as well. I was about a month into my first semester of college when I came home and was promptly taken to a hospital by my parents, who barely recognized me. I was diagnosed with a variety of things, officially, and I finally started getting the help I needed. I apologized over and over again to my parents, for letting them down, for “being so dumb,” for things I can’t even remember now. My parents, in turn, kept apologizing to me. They blamed themselves for missing the signs, for not recognizing how bad it really was. But I was an Oscar-worthy actress: I hid everything so well that I was often in denial of how bad it was myself, until it knocked my heart rate down to 43 bpm and almost killed me.

In the end we realized that nobody is to blame for mental illness. It is not something that people choose to have. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a creep and a liar, and you can tell them I said so.

What I’ve learned over the years is that the people who care for you will not be disappointed in you for having to deal with things beyond your control. They will not think you are “crazy.” They will not think you are weak or stupid for not being able to pull yourself out of it. If you stick out your hand, they will take it. They won’t be able to make all of it go away, either, but they can help you find the path and the professionals that will lead you to brighter places. They will support you. They will listen to you. They will never stop loving you. You don’t have to suffer, and you don’t have to be alone. You’re not the only one, even though it totally feels that way sometimes. I can’t tell you how things will work out, or how long it will take, but I can tell you, from personal experience, that there are lights even at the end of the deepest, darkest tunnels.

***

I still struggle sometimes; the ghost won’t ever leave me entirely. But I no longer hide what I’m going through, and I am very fortunate to have a team of professional people and a few medications helping me along the way. I’ve learned how to deal with anxiety without trying to cut or starve it away. I’ve learned how to ask for help whenever I need it. I’ve learned how to help myself without spiraling into a black hole. Keeping it a secret doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it grow and grow until it swallows you whole.

My old best friend and I haven’t spoken in years; I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing. We drifted apart during college, separated by state lines and significant others, and now we are slowly fading memories of each other. He is always 17 when I see him. He smells like cigarettes and ice cream. The last time we talked, we were both in a good place. We both had new and totally different plans for two years, two months, two hours, two minutes into the future.

Whenever I drive back to my hometown and see the lights at the municipal airport, I blow a wish in their direction, and hope that he is as happy as I am. ♦

58 Comments

  • Mel October 7th, 2011 7:17 PM

    beautiful

  • upandicita October 7th, 2011 7:25 PM

    Very very well put. I like how you articulate the lucidity of certain types of depression and the way it traps you.

  • Stephanie October 7th, 2011 7:26 PM

    This is such a powerful and brave piece. Thank you so much for sharing your experience as I think it will mean so much to so many girls. I wish I could have read it at 15 or 16. I really, really relate.

  • Gretchyn October 7th, 2011 7:32 PM

    Your writing really blows me away, this was beautiful. It made my heart ache. X

  • PoisonIvy October 7th, 2011 7:42 PM

    this was lovely.

  • kittenmix October 7th, 2011 7:49 PM

    i felt compelled to comment even before reading the whole thing, because i’ve never identified with anything so much in my life. I feel like i can only suffer in silence, and if i tell anyone they won’t believe me, and i don’t want to let anyone down, and it’s really inconvenient for me to feel like this right now but that’s the way it is. In short, thank you.

  • Pashupati October 7th, 2011 7:51 PM

    “In the end we realized that nobody is to blame for mental illness. It is not something that people choose to have. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a creep and a liar, and you can tell them I said so.”
    I started to cry at this point, but a cry like when someone is hugging you.

    My mother, when I have panic attacks or have the guts to talk to her about “things”… She just says, she says exactly that I’m weak, or she implies it. She also says that of the people on TV to which similar things happen, or that they are dumb/doing dumb things.

    I’m more controlling my panic attacks now, and I don’t have these when she is here, but sometimes she used to beat me (when I confronted her on that she laughed about my threats of suing her one day and said “no judge would punish her” because it’s “impossible not to be violent with me”), menace (“I’ll throw you out”) or mock me (“you hurl like a sow”). Then she started explaining me if she killed someone and didn’t get caught, then the person just had what s/he merited, with that “I’m right, you can’t be right” look. Multiple times, she told me to stop because by my fault the neighborhood will think she is a pedophile! (I think she doesn’t even understand, if she even thought a little about it she’d realize it won’t stop the panic attacks to beat me.)

    She just sese life as a battle and I/you/we’re supposed to get out there alone, but it’s wrong and there are other people out there that can care for me (you) and love me (you) and when you find them don’t make your problems a secret, plus they maybe have some on their own.

    Caring thoughts!

    • Anaheed October 8th, 2011 1:11 AM

      Hey, Pashupati. Where do you live? France, right? You might want to look online to find out what you can report your mom for, if things are that bad. If you want to change your situation, or when you do, find out what your rights are.

    • Pashupati October 9th, 2011 5:12 AM

      Anaheed, thanks for your answer (it’s weird to type that, but really: thanks)
      When picturing myself suing her I just imagined going to the cops after leaving home… You’re right it might not be as simple and I should do researches. Plus if I did it that way they wouldn’t really be able to do anything or it might trigger a panic attack.
      Otherwise I don’t think I can report her for anything right now, in my situation, or I won’t be able to pass my exams (baccalauréat) to get the possibility to follow superior education next year. (I know there are other possibilities for what I want to do, but I missed these)
      Since I don’t do as much panic attacks now and she is at her work most of the time, it doesn’t happen as much, the thing is I can’t really think of her like my mother, I emotionally “ignore” her.
      I just joined a forum for people having social phobia, it also helps. I know a forumer had similar problems with his dad (but he got to leave and live with grandparents), obviously I won’t ask about it but it’s still helping in a way.
      Otherwise for a while I thought it was common. It’s only when I complained to someone on the Internet and he told me to sue her, asked if someone was aware, that I understood it wasn’t and it was only recently. It would have been easier had I understood when I was around 14-15 (relating to studying, etc.)
      (the same way you just made it pass a barrier in my head, from a possibility in the future to something I should search about)

  • Jo October 7th, 2011 7:53 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this. As someone who has spent the past 3 years dealing with an eating disorder and depression, I get a lot of really stupid comments and shaming (frequently from myself). Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone or crazy, and that it gets better.

  • shirley October 7th, 2011 7:53 PM

    this is absolutely beautiful and inspiring, brought tears to my eyes
    i have friends who suffer from OCD, so it is really close to my heart.
    thanks for sharing

  • fatale October 7th, 2011 7:59 PM

    really, really beautiful. i want to cry when i think of all the shame we trap ourselves in.

  • Brittany October 7th, 2011 9:39 PM

    It was so wonderful to read this. I can relate. Freaking arm scratching.

  • Tessa October 7th, 2011 9:40 PM

    This was a REALLY good read. It always sounds crazy when you hear of people not getting help, until you’re the one that needs it and it becomes a whole different story. I feel like my picture should be on the Cyclothymia wiki page.

    I’m really really happy for you that you were able to get the help you needed. It is a very commendable process and I’m sure you’re much better off because of it.

    http://teafortessa.blogspot.com

  • Claire October 7th, 2011 9:42 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this. I know it sounds cheesy, but it cut me right to the core. I have struggled with OCD from a young age, and I suffered anorexia and depression in middle school and into high school. For a longer time than I can even remember, I survived on rice cakes, Diet Coke, ibuprofen, and not much else. It’s been about 4 years since I entered recovery, but one of the hardest parts was admitting everything to my family and friends (and, in turn, admitting it to myself, I guess). I’m better now, even though everything is cyclical, but I think I’m going to feel aftershocks for the rest of my life – low blood pressure, anemia, weird periods, whatever. But everyone has their stuff to deal with, and people need to get it through their heads that mental illness and physical illness should be given the same attention (and are oftentimes concurrent).

  • diny October 7th, 2011 10:22 PM

    OCD is a strange thing for me. but i get myself panic attack. i always panic. i am panic when i take a ride, i am panic when i remember about time. i know that is not good. but i can’t calm down myself. never. sometimes i think that i am so pathetic. i can’t control my feeling. then i’ll be so upset and tired. so far, i can’t handle this feeling.

  • audrey.audrey.audrey October 7th, 2011 10:44 PM

    So genuine and powerful. I couldn’t even read it all at once because it hit so close to home.

  • MichyMich October 7th, 2011 11:47 PM

    This is a brilliant piece and thank you for writing it. It really hit me hard – I remember a time when I was struggling with this idea of being academically “perfect” (i.e. good grades). I always thought that I could handle earning good grades, taking one AP and do well in other subjects like English. It wasn’t until AP exam week that I started to break down and go outta of control. I have to admit that I’ve been hiding my suffering from my parents and it left me psychologically damaged. That “ghost rider” of perfectionism scarred me. I had to see my school psychologist and confess to him about EVERYTHING. After talking to my psych, I felt 100% better. Even better, I talked to my parents about it in the end.

    I realized that if I have a “ghost rider”, then, I must tell my parents everything no matter what.

  • Maddy October 7th, 2011 11:47 PM

    An article which combines truth and advice with beautiful nostalgia. I’m glad you’re healing.

  • oriana October 8th, 2011 12:16 AM

    Oh gosh, this is so beautiful. I almost cried because I related to this so much. I wish I had a friend like you, but still, I relate.

  • Michaela October 8th, 2011 12:53 AM

    I am struggling with getting myself out of my depressive cycle, and this is wonderful in so many ways. My mother told me tonight that “there’s something wrong inside me”. It was lovely to hear that that’s not true.

  • Carneece October 8th, 2011 2:51 AM

    I’ve been sitting here for a long time now deliberating on whether or not to comment. I realize how stupid that sounds, I do, and it looks even more asinine all typed out, but lately I’ve struggled with this idea of “deserving” to say anything regarding depression. With a topic like this there are certainly scores and scores of others who’ve been bruised and ravaged by eating disorders, self-harm, and that ever-constant tormenter Depression, who stalks your day and your life and your mind and seems to attack only when you thought you were “getting better”. I feel as if depression has haunted too many other lives to make my experience anything remotely unique. But still.
    I’m writing this from my bedroom at home, where I’ve essentially relegated myself after withdrawing from this semester at university. Over the past few years there I’ve had to come to terms with my clinical depression and the reawakening of both perfectionism and anorexia, which I thought were gone for good. I fought so hard to push through these at school until I reached the point where I had to choose between healing and defeat. I’m currently seeking treatment with a counselor, a fresh batch of pills, and my art, but it’s honestly the lowest I’ve been in life.
    Lately I’ve been feeling immensely guilty and selfish and burdensome to my family to the point where I just wish I could disappear from life or pay for their lobotomies so that they could simply forget me.
    Anyway. Thank you for this beautiful post. Thank you for being brave and speaking hope to those still at the bottom. Looking up.
    Michelle

  • jeanette October 8th, 2011 4:13 AM

    I had a lump in my throat halfway through reading because it was so beautiful and ended up crying before the end. Thank you thank you thank you

  • leraje October 8th, 2011 5:15 AM

    this is a really great piece. i wish i had read it a long time ago before i figured out how to help myself. some parts even hit home today (especially about the ones who care about you wanting to help). i’m definitely going to send this on.

  • Arie October 8th, 2011 7:19 AM

    I’m almost crying, it’s so very very true.

    I struggled through a double depression, a clinical one and one caused by parents who aren’t capable of loving and all the other things parents are supposed to do.

    In november, it will be 2 years of fulltime grouptherapy, and i hope i get out in 2012 and finally start to live my life the way i want and be the one i really am. And i will never hate myself anymore!

    So, your story gives me hope, things can really change. Thanks!

    x

  • Chand October 8th, 2011 9:02 AM

    So it really never goes away. Brilliant.

    • Pixie October 8th, 2011 1:19 PM

      Hi Chand! This is just my experience, so I can’t speak for everyone–it may not “go away,” completely, but it absolutely can fade to the point where it doesn’t consume you anymore. There is hope out there, and things can and do get better. xo

  • Lucy October 8th, 2011 9:05 AM

    I think I just sobbed all over my keyboard. Oh my god, this is so effing beautiful; I’m amazed. I think a lot of people can realate to this.
    I’ve never suffered from depression, but several of my close friends have.
    This is the truth of small towns described perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I think this may be the most truthful, real, and tragically beautiful thing I have ever read.

  • Bunny Ears October 8th, 2011 10:10 AM

    I found myself relating to this, but I didn’t actually cry until I got to the comments. It’s taken so long for me to find other outlets, and I’ve already destroyed too much.
    This is my senior year and I’ve wasted so much time, I don’t really have friends and I find myself hating perfect strangers.
    I just want to get away. “They” say that every teenager’s dream is to leave town for a big city or whatever, but I honestly hate the way people think around here.

  • stephanie4786 October 8th, 2011 11:12 AM

    this was so beautiful, i hope you and your friend are happy

  • Demmy October 8th, 2011 12:09 PM

    Ur writing is beautiful and i luvd it

  • assatagrrrl October 8th, 2011 12:28 PM

    This was beautiful… It made me cry. I totally relate to the feeling tired & totally faking everything part, as a senior. I don’t really know what to do, but I don’t want to tell my parents/anyone I think I’m depressed; they’d probably just say I’m exaggerating. Hmm.

    • Anaheed October 8th, 2011 12:44 PM

      Hi, assatagrrrl! Is there someone in your school you can talk to? Is your school counselor a nice person? Sometimes crossing that threshold to telling ONE person is the hardest part.

  • katrina October 8th, 2011 12:41 PM

    I think once you talk to people about it, you realize how many people suffer with the same things as you. Within the last week I have found out that one of my best friends back home, and two of my best friends at college have anxiety and depression. Having them openly talk about it made me realize that it takes more bravery and courage to openly talk about it than to try to deal with it yourself.

  • celestica October 8th, 2011 12:49 PM

    this is really nice of you, because sometimes when all this is going on i feel like i’m the only one it’s happening to in this entire town, that nobody has any idea what the fuck is going on in my head, at least not entirely because it’s never happened to them and they haven’t dealt with with it since they were ten years old, and i guess it’s comforting to know and be aware, basically that you aren’t, with pieces like this. thank you, pixie!

  • Pixie October 8th, 2011 1:21 PM

    Thank you for all of your lovely comments, and again, please don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help–there is a lot of love and understanding out there, even though sometimes it feels like the opposite. xo

  • Claire October 8th, 2011 1:22 PM

    Bunny Ears, I completely get where you’re coming from. I’m a junior, but I feel like I’ve devoted a lot of mental energy to lamenting the existence of people I don’t really know. I don’t regret skipping out on “high school” events, like homecoming and sporting events and whatnot, but I do feel this weird sense of nostalgia for things I’ve never experienced. Meh.

  • Kayla Marie October 8th, 2011 1:39 PM

    Thank you, so much. Just, thank you. I started crying in the middle of this. I can relate so much. I’ve been in recovery from anorexia and cutting for over a year now (yay), and havent cut in alomost a year. This had been the hardest thing I have ever done, but its starting to get easier. This summer, I wore a bikini to the beach. I feel beautiful. Truely. I never thought that would happen. I have OCD, and BPD, but I’m working to overcome it. Thank you, for being strong enough a brave enogh to talk about this.

  • susielou October 8th, 2011 1:54 PM

    I just wanted to say thank you.

    Thanks for showing depression as it really is, in all the ways it can manifest itself. Thanks for being honest and not trying to force any ‘go get help now’ issues- it’s useful but if we’re not ready for it it does no good. Thank you for being totally and utterly real.

    I’ve had clinical depression for about six years now. It started manifesting itself when I started secondary/high school and for years I kept it hidden. Eventually I ended up in a young people’s mental health institute and even since then it’s reared its ugly head again. But we get through. We learn to fight, both by ourselves and with the help of others. And we learn that people (not everyone, but the ones who are worth it) care and can help.

    This magazine/blog/site is just what girls need nowadays. I don’t wanna use the word role model- you (the collective writers/editors) are like a big sister to millions of girls (and women!) out there who need a buddy to get through this world with. THANK YOU.

  • rubyteeth October 8th, 2011 5:27 PM

    Up until this point, you guys have been doing a great job- entertaining articles, fun photography pieces, et cetera. I was satisfied.

    And then this piece came and blew everything else out of the water.

    This piece is so, so important. I could cry for how close to home it hit. This is what I’m living with, and if I’d had someone to talk to me like this years ago, maybe I wouldn’t be as far down the rabbit hole as I am.

    Bravo for publishing this. Just… bravo.

  • Naomi October 8th, 2011 5:49 PM

    the panic attaacks, the depression manifesting in that kind of tiredness, the anxiety and especially the ocd. i did exactly the same thing, had many rituals for about eight months when i was 12 and then realised that bad things happened anyway and managed to put it behind me. still crops up nowadays but no where near as bad.
    you put it all so much better then i could, it’s helped me understand things more myself.

  • riley.t October 8th, 2011 7:37 PM

    I always think I’m an extremely emotionless person, yet this was so beautiful it gave me shivers. x

  • Angie Bitchface October 8th, 2011 10:00 PM

    this sounds so much like me…I’ve had OCD, depression, anxiety…my panic attacks used to be about grades, but now they’re about stuff like death and the bizarreness of existence itself, so the only way to get over it is to focus on living, or meditate. luckily I have an amazing boyfriend and friends who are always there for me and even understand what I’m going on about a lot of the time and can offer advice.

    here’s the thing. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I’ve been to tons of psychologists et al., and every single one of them has either done nothing or made the problem worse. they usually don’t even understand the questions that I need help with. when I got incarcerated in a mental ward (which is a civil rights violation btw, but that’s another story), I wanted to kill myself MORE when I left than when I went in. I’ve never taken psychiatric medication because I don’t want to poison my body, but a former friend who took antidepressants started having psychotic episodes, which she had never had before “treatment.” so basically, I’m not sure why everyone thinks “getting professional help” is so important, because psychiatry is a useless profession as far as I can see. in my experience, the types of people who go into mental health professions are also the types of people who are self-righteous, judgmental, and prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution to a very individual problem. the only way I’ve ever gotten over any of these problems is by thinking my way out of it myself.

    anyway I hope you don’t censor this comment b/c of liability reasons or anything.

  • littleredrachelhood October 9th, 2011 9:41 AM

    I can’t express how thankful I am that Rookie ran this piece.

    As a 17 year old girl struggling with OCD, perfectionism and bouts of depression, to hear so many similar stories saddens me but also gives me a sense of solidarity.

    You can never truly know what it is like to suffer from mental illness unless you experience it but this article was written so eloquently and is the best expression of it I have ever heard.

    Last year for me was hell on earth but with the help of my friends, family, a supportive boyfriend and a wonderful psychiatrist I am emerging out of the dark.

    Angie, I hear what you’re saying but professional help often is the best way to break out of the cycle. Yes, some medicines can slightly increase the psychosis but speaking from experience they helped bring me back to me again. I truly believe they are a miracle. Without psychiatric help I know that I would never have acknowledged that I was mentally ill: I literally couldn’t see it.

    If you’ve read this article and you just think, “yes, that’s me” then please please let me assure you that there IS hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and whilst these problems will never fully go away, there is so much love and help out there for you. Life is beautiful and one day you will see that again, I promise.

    God bless you Rookie,
    Rachel

  • wissycosh October 9th, 2011 10:23 AM

    “Obviously doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen year-old girl”. The end was the light at the end of the tunnel for me -”and hope that he is as happy as I am”. I think that drugs hurt my mind so much more, they mix with the individual concoctions that are already existing inside my head. I still hide my illness because I’m to scared to be thought of as crazy, i get myself around my own mind and that’s the key- erasing it from your mind asap, meditating and great advice from beautiful understanding people. Don’t let anyone get inside your head.

    Thank you so much for this piece, I feel tho I will be OK and that eases my mind to know that. Xx

  • julalondon October 9th, 2011 12:32 PM

    This is beautiful and so honest. I think articles like this personal story help a lot of young people out there and even if im not struggling with mental illness i really just have to say thank you!
    I especially loved one phrase: “Here is something to remember about the people who love you: they love you.” Im gonna write this on the wall of my room. Just amazing and again, thank you!

  • natasha October 9th, 2011 4:13 PM

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. I hate this topic, probably I should just keep my yap shut. But it’s just, this has been my whole life. My whole life is crapped up because of “mental illness”.

    I don’t believe it’ll ever get better and I won’t even discuss it anymore. Because all people ever said was that they know it’ll get better, I’ll just have to stick it out and wait and I have waited beyond what is fair. I’m not going to kill myself, I’ll just wait for nothing.

  • J October 9th, 2011 9:07 PM

    People always warn about the dangers of saying too much on the internet, because it is so easy not to censor yourself when you aren’t talking face-to-face, but in some cases that seems to be a very good thing. Here, people who might usually take great care not to say too much can tell their stories without fear of judgement. I just wanted to say thank you for that.

  • renata October 9th, 2011 10:05 PM

    This made me bawl. I’ve had (self diagnosed, as I’m too afraid to mention this to my mom or a professional) OCD for (at least) 5 years. I’m 16. My parents are divorced, my brother is autistic, my dad is depressed and schizotypal. My mom has told me she thinks mental disorders and treatment thereof are fabricated by drug companies totally for profit, without knowing she told she thinks me damaged mental state is self-induced crap.

    I know she loves me, but I can’t help feeling like I’ll be another burden if I’m diagnosed, another broken person she’ll have to care for, and that she’ll resent me for it or disown me or something.

    I appreciate that this was meant to be inspiring, but I still can’t bring myself to get help (beyond admitting to the internet that I need help…).

  • Meredith October 10th, 2011 4:22 AM

    Absolutely amazing.. You’ve gone through some tough crap I’m so glad you got through it eventully.
    I went through something in year 8 and 9, and I 100% agree that as difficult as it is the only way to move forward is to accept thing are not right and tell someone!

  • missbean October 10th, 2011 10:49 AM

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of work. My dear best friend has struggled with depression and cutting for years, but she refuses to get help. It makes me sad knowing that if she could just admit it to other people she would get the help she needed. I am glad that you overcame this and are doing fine now. It shows other people that they still have hope and they can still overcome everything they struggle with.

  • she_justlaughs October 10th, 2011 2:06 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with us :) I have a friend who is currently struggling with coming to terms with his mental illness and this is exactly what i need him to read. it made me cry, but in a way that means i am not alone when i dont know the right things to say. you are an inspiration!!

  • Sophii October 10th, 2011 3:32 PM

    Gave me goosebumps
    http://thechicmuse000.blogspot.com/

  • issy October 10th, 2011 8:27 PM

    just in case anyone is looking for some reassurance, like i always did, i’m twenty three and was suffering for most of my adolescence from incredible depression, anxiety, and feelings that i’m don’t think even have a name

    i’m in a place now where i haven’t experienced anything in the realm of mental illness for maybe a year or so, with the help of yoga, a bit of therapy, heaps of exercise and anti-depressants earlier on. i’m pretty sure i’ve fixed myself now. i realise that not everyone experiences this but i was incredibly determined not to die from it. i honestly never ever thought i’d be truly happy and content again but i am, & it’s totally a possibility for everyone

    great article by the wayyy

  • kellaymcc October 11th, 2011 1:16 AM

    i am forever grateful for finding rookie. i honestly could not even tell you how or when or where i found it, but that’s irrelevant. the writing on this post and the rest of the posts on this site are absolutely beautiful. whether they delve into serious issues or humorous ones, the feelings i get after reading a piece are difficult to articulate into words. i just love writing, and i love passionate writing. and every single one of the writers on this website are amazing fucking people. i really, really want you all to know that. this was beautiful.

  • truexxfeelings October 11th, 2011 2:48 PM

    Thank you for writing this. I think that what you said is incredibly powerful, and all too many people relate. The power of being honest and open with our struggles and our journeys is something I’ve barely begun to understand. Thank you for sharing and encouraging others to think

  • Aderita October 13th, 2011 2:12 AM

    This story makes me think, how do you deal when someone is in denial? It’s happening to me, it’s so awful, someone I know won’t admit it. Rookie, any advice?

    • Stephanie October 13th, 2011 10:43 AM

      Aderita, That is so hard. I honestly wish you could talk to some of my friends from high school because I’m sure they felt a lot like you. I spent most of my late teens and some of my early 20s in denial about emotions that stemmed from being in an abusive relationship, in denial that I really needed help to work through them and to talk and open up. My best friend and my mom kept talking to me though. That was key. To keep talking, to keep being there and making yourself available to listen and to help and reminding your friend kindly that she has options. At some point hopefully they will break through. However if you think their denial is leading to behavior that is really putting their health or life at risk, then do tell someone, okay? A trusted adult, like if you have a cool counselor or teacher at school or if you or a friend has a parent you can trust. Your friend might be mad, but if they are at serious risk, it is worth it and hopefully after they get the help they need they will thank you. But mostly just keep listening. I know it is hard. Please know that you are a great friend!