*trigger warning: this piece mentions assault and self harm*
My battle with anxiety and depression started at just fourteen years old. When I was ten, my parents split, and I eventually went to live with my mother when I was about to turn thirteen. I was going into a new school in a whole different environment. It was a bit of a culture shock coming from a small town where everybody knows everybody, to a city where nobody knew my last name.
I was starting the eighth grade and I didn’t know anybody. I made some friends about a month into the school year, and we stayed friends for a while. As the school year went on, I made friends and lost friends. But then, summer came along, and I turned fourteen. I was hanging out with my friends and started getting into bad things. My friends at the time convinced me to go out with them all the time and go to parties with their high school friends. One of those times, and the final time, I went out with them and got assaulted by one of the older guys there. That’s when I started to spiral. I didn’t tell anyone about the assault, not even my own parents. I didn’t know the guy’s name and had never met him before. I felt so alone and scared. I didn’t leave my house for roughly a month, as I was worried something would happen or I would see the guy again. This is when my anxiety went into full effect. I would lay awake until four in the morning, thinking about the assault. I wanted to talk to somebody about it but my anxiety would say “what if they don’t believe you” or “there is nothing you can do about it”. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through.
My anxiety started to become depression, I drew away from my friends, and started to self-harm. I stopped talking to some of my friends, which was for the best. I soon started my freshman year at one of the high schools. The moment I stepped into that school I was trembling inside. I haven’t talked to people in a month and was worried the people I would normally walk to class with, wouldn’t want anything to do with me. Luckily one of my friends came and found me. We were talking as if I didn’t lose contact for a month. We found out we had a few classes together and we went on our way.
Although I had my friend back, my anxiety was still in the back of my head. It was saying “what if she knows” or “what if she wouldn’t believe you”. The intrusive thoughts kept flooding in day by day. It eventually got to the point where I couldn’t do a presentation without stuttering or my voice cracking. I eventually had a panic attack in the middle of class, while giving a presentation. The school therapist pulled me out of class later that day and talked to me about my panic attack. I blamed it on missing my dad and how I didn’t want to live in that city anymore. I eventually told my mom I wanted to move back with my dad.
So, I finished my semester finals early and moved back with my dad. Throughout high school, my anxiety and depression fluctuated constantly, but I eventually told my doctor at my yearly checkup. I was diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety at sixteen and started taking medication. I eventually stopped self-harming and opened up to my close friends about my assault. I still fight my anxiety and depression at almost twenty-one years old. It isn’t something that goes away easy. It’s okay to ask for help! Go see your doctor and see what you can do to take the next step towards a happier life. Don’t stop fighting!