I refer to my anxiety and depression as a thing named Scribble. I do so because I recognize that it is not part of me, rather a monster that comes to visit me.

Scribble first came to visit me as a nine year old girl. That was the first time I felt profound sadness and decided to use a pen knife to cut my leg in a hope of satiating the emotional pain I felt.

Scribble came again when I was ten and hospitalized me for a massive panic attack that left me riddled with anxiety and unable to attend school.

Scribble came again when I was eleven, when the school counselor phoned my parents and informed them that my friends had reported I was talking about suicidal thoughts.

Visits from Scribble became frequent. It was as if Scribble had now found a home within me, and I let it stay there, because I didn’t know any better.

High school, I thought, would be a fresh start. A time where I could pull myself together emotionally, get good grades and get into the best college ever… oh how naive I was. The pressures to achieve academically and fit in socially left me lost and confused. I set unrealistic goals for myself and went to detrimental lengths to achieve them. I kept every issue to myself and let my growing self hatred fester inside my mind. When people mentioned that I should seek help, I smiled and said I was fine. I was sure if I could just power through school without slowing down that one day I would reach my goals, and everything would be good and I would be happy and content.

I crashed.

The first week of senior year, I was curled up in a hospital bed in a locked room with nurses handing me little white pills. Through my teary eyes I could see a psychiatrist whispering to my father, “Would you like to admit her to the psych ward?” he asked.

A year and a half, 15 medications, 4 psychiatrists and countless therapists later, I sit here writing this. I took a gap year between high school and college for myself and my treatment, and it has been the best decision I have ever made. The journey of getting better has in no way been easy. There are times where I have felt angry, fed up, lost, and hopeless, but the key is that I have kept trying, I am still trying and I will keep trying. There is no quick fix to mental illness, but if there is anything I would like you to get out of me sharing this story is that you don’t have to live in the dark forever. Seeking help might be the hardest thing you do, but my god, it will be the best feeling ever when you realize you don’t have to carry those invisible burdens alone.

I cannot hold myself accountable for having a mental illness, for that was never my choice, but I am accountable for the strength of trying.

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