I’m Amanda; I’m 20 years old and have wonderful jobs, possibly lifelong careers, as a chef and photographer. I have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with Severe Depression, severe anxiety, social anxiety, and Inattentive type ADD. I currently suffer from all of the above, and a few new things/symptoms.
I started self-harming in seventh grade as a way to control and release pain that I couldn’t let out. I was also dating a physically and mentally abusive boy, and only a couple of friends knew about the abuse and did nothing about it, even when they saw it happen in front of them. I had my first panic attack because of the boy and continued to have them weekly, almost daily for the next two years. I realized something was wrong about half way through the year and attempted to tell my mother that I thought I was depressed. She not only denied it, but argued and got angry with me for even suggesting it. I realize that she was probably scared at the time, but it still made me believe that I could not talk to her or tell her anything relative to negative feelings of mine in any way. I have also never been close to my father and couldn’t talk to him either.
My depression and self-harm got worse throughout junior high until in 8th grade a teacher read my personal diary and gave it to the school counselor, who then told my parents about myself harm. I promised to stop cutting and see the school counselor every week and everyone went back to ignoring me.
My freshman and sophomore year in high school were worse yet. I continued to have weekly panic attacks, and got very bad anxiety. I started dating a boy a year older than me who continually cheated on me and played with my head, all the while he was abusing me sexually and mentally. I can’t remember most of my freshman year, I subconsciously blocked it out. I started dating my current boyfriend during my sophomore year, which started out rocky but got better.
Even though my junior year was the most eventful (I’ll explain in this paragraph), I believe my freshman was the worst year for me. However, my junior year started with me getting a job as a cashier, and I quickly lost the job because I hated it so much that I stopped going in. I was also having relationship issues and my mother and I basically didn’t talk to each other and when we did it was to fight. I only had one friend and as much as she tried to help me, I was too far gone to be saved by anyone but myself. I was taking handfuls of Tylenol every day, sneaking alcohol when I could, and self-harming for my entire junior year. 4 days before my 17th birthday I attempted suicide. I had my boyfriend take me to the ER where he signed me in, and they called my parents. He refused to come to the room with me until right before I was taken by ambulance to Akron Children’s hospital Psych Unit.
The first night I remained in the ICU because of my overdose and the next morning I was admitted to the Psych unit. I was terrified, but still felt a little lighter. Something inside of me was changing. Over the five days I was there, I learned a lot about myself, mental illness, and most importantly, I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to give up. Something changed inside of me. I didn’t want to give up; I was ready to fight to feel better. Despite spending my birthday in a psychiatric unit, I had a good one. The nurses and guards on the unit let us watch a movie that night, we all were allowed to have some of the birthday cake my parents brought in, I was allowed to wear my nightgown my mother bought me rather than the hospital scrubs. I was even given a handmade blanket one of the nurses made.
After my stay in the hospital I was made to see a psychiatrist, after going through two I finally found one that I clicked with. I saw her three times a week for the first month, twice a week for the next several months and then once a month after that. I saw her for about a year and a half until one day I decided that seeing her caused more stress than was worth. Over the time I saw her, however, I became less depressed, I learned ways to cope, I finally became able to talk to my mother and ask for help when I need it. I also became more confident. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and most importantly, ADD. just being diagnosed and finally knowing the answer to why I had never been able to remember homework, or school books, and unable to focus on studying for too long, all these things that caused so much anxiety and being yelled at made me feel so much better and optimistic. I had always received C’s and D’s in school, even though I had always tried my hardest. After being diagnosed and put on medication I started getting A’s and B’s, the occasional C but that was rare, and finally I was able to study without crying with frustration.
My senior year started off as well as the end of my junior year. I was happier and doing great. At the start of the second semester, however, I missed several weeks of school because my anxiety over just going to school was making me sick. I also almost didn’t pass my EMT-Basic class because of the anxiety. I talked to my doctor and got my medications switched around and the anxiety became manageable again. I graduated my senior year and have been living with my boyfriend of 3.5 years for one year. I now have a few good friends, and a couple of wonderful jobs that I absolutely love. Although I still suffer from depression, anxiety, and a couple of other things, I am still able to have a good life and relationships.