When I open up to my friends about my mental illness, the first question they often ask is “When did it start?” The truth is I don’t know. Did it start when I was seven years old and cried to my mom about going to school? Did it start that night in sixth grade when I didn’t want to go on a school trip so I took a whole bottle of melatonin? Maybe it started when I used to lock myself in the bathroom, crying for hours until eventually picking at my skin with a nail clipper. If any of those is when it started, then it started way before I was twelve.
While crying about going to school, I secretly hoped for a car accident. I would fantasize about death in ways that no little girl should. In ways that no one should. I remember thinking, “Will it ever get better?”
Searching for Why
I used to search for excuses to why I felt so bad when by most of the typical standards, I had a“perfect” life. At the age of twelve – when my mom got sick with cancer – I thought maybe this is why I’m sad. I forgot about all my pasts and believed this is it. Then she got better, but I was still sad. Nothing made sense.
When I was twelve or thirteen, I started group therapy. The other girls and my therapist used to mention the possibility of admitting myself to the hospital and my therapist even suggested it to me a few times when I was at my low points. The funny thing is what stopped me from taking the help I needed for so long was the fear of what my friends will think when I disappear from the world for a bit. Though I was sick from a very young age, I was only first hospitalized when I was about fourteen.
For so long, I pushed help away and thought I could do this on my own. Lots of therapists, two therapeutic schools, nine hospitalizations, and over thirty ER visits later – I can finally say I’m where I need to be. I no longer worry about what others will think if I miss a few days of school; I put my needs first. Today, I’m almost done with high school, plan to study at a seminary in Israel next year, and am an aunt to an amazing little boy. I did it. I did everything I thought I couldn’t do and will continue to amaze myself and everyone on my side.
Thinking back to that scared little girl crying on her way to school and fantasizing of death, I can look her straight in the eyes and tell her, “Yes, it will get better.”
I may not know exactly when my struggles started, but I know they have ended. While, of course, they’ll always be a part of me, I have it under control now.
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