I am Not Ashamed of My Mental Illness
By: Gabby Morse (@gabbymorse_)
Content warning: self-harm, anxiety, depression
Life starts to get weird when you turn thirteen. Everyone and everything are changing so rapidly, and it can be a lot to take in. Some kids are drinking, some kids are still playing with Barbies, either way, everyone is growing and slowly finding themselves. For some it's easy, some not so much.
I guess I had a harder time at that age than other people did. After a long ongoing fight with my ex-best friend and her new group of friends, I found myself in a very dark place. I didn't know what I was feeling, but I know I didn't feel right. I spent every day after school hiding in my room barely leaving my bed. I didn't have any friends, and I was tormented by the fact that my best friend no longer wanted to be apart of my life. I was alone.
One night after a particularly rough day, I couldn't contain the frustration and sadness that was engulfing me, and I smashed a glass cup that was left on my bedside table. I waited a few minutes to see if my parents or siblings would come rushing in to make sure I was okay, but no one did. After a little while, I started to pick up the glass that was shattered all over my floor, and I began to feel angry again. Not having any coping skills at the time I took a shard and scratched my arm. It wasn't particularly deep or something someone would question, but if I could go back, I would have never done that.
As 7th grade drew to an end I found myself covered in little scratches using the famous "it was my cat" line hoping someone would notice that it wasn't. At 13, cutting was my cry for help, but no one noticed. As time went on, it became something I needed to calm me down. Although I had developed a need to self-harm, I promised myself that I would never go beyond what a bracelet couldn't hide. That worked for a while until the feelings of hopelessness and dread started becoming worse. I was around 16 and at the end of my sophomore year in high school when I started my spiral.
Somehow I survived the summer that seemed endless and set my mind on "getting over myself" my junior year. I figured it was time to buckle down and stop being a dramatic teenager. However, the more and more I pushed my feelings out, the harder they would come back. I began cutting more and more, and soon enough I wasn't going to bed without fresh cuts on my body. I kept getting worse but was too afraid to ask for help. I was never close with my parents so talking to them was out of the question.
February of my junior year a good friend expressed his concern after noticing the marks on my arms after a slip of my sleeve as we took a selfie. I panicked and lied, but he knew what he saw. After I had become comfortable with the idea that someone knew, I was able to confide in him a bit, and it made things easier, and I thought I was going to get better knowing I had him.
But mental health problems don't just go away, and I had a hard time coping without self-harm. One day in March I was called down to guidance, and my counselor shut the door behind her. She told me that my gym teacher saw the cuts on my arms and informed me that she had called my parents. The next day was somewhat of a blur and involved a lot of yelling and all of my things thrown across my room as my mother looked for my "tools." I called my friend and told him I was in the wrong place. He tried to console me, but I figured I had reached a point where I wasn't ready to face the future.
That night I attempted to take my life. I woke up in more pain than I have ever been in, in an emergency room with vomit in my hair. I was alive. I didn't know what to make of the situation, but I figured they would discharge me, and I would go home and try again. But of course being suicidal is not something taken lightly and I was sectioned the next day. I was only 17, but I was put in an Adult Psychiatric ward.
Adult Psych was my home for the next few weeks as I was given treatment. The diagnosis went far past being a moody teenager. In fact, they went beyond what I even thought was wrong with me. I was given a list of the mental illnesses I had and a list of medications to combat them. I was discharged and eventually was able to get back to school and finish my junior year.
Slowly I began to realize that I was sick... I wasn't dramatic or attention seeking. I was not ashamed of being diagnosed with a mental illness. I spent a lot of time in the dark trying to hide that side of me away but finally at 18 and graduating high school I found that I had the power to get better if I just accepted that this was how I was, but it was not who I was.
Since that realization I have gone on to graduate high school, go to art school with a focus in photography, graduate from that school, start my own photography business, and I look forward to what else I will do because I was not and I am not my mental illness. I live with depression, anxiety, bipolar and an eating disorder to name a few. I will always live with it, but at 21 years old I am in control of my life, and I have never been happier to say "I am alive."
If anyone needs a person to talk to, please contact me. You are not alone. My email is: Gabbymorse94@gmail.com