Depression: The big, dark lurking cloud that never fails to bring you down. I wish I could say that I never had to deal with that. I wish I could say depression goes away with time. But then I would be lying.
I’m 18, and I feel like I have been through more than the majority of females my age. The hardest thing to fight through, though, was clinical depression; thoughts and actions I took were not my own, I was drowning in a black abyss of my own creation. The thing about depression a lot of people can’t grasp is that a person cannot control it. There is no switch that we can flick to stop it.
Sure, some of us are excellent bull-shitters and can act well enough around other people. But on the inside it’s still pure emotional pain and distress. And sometimes it’s easier to turn the pain on the inside into physical pain on the outside. My inside pain became too much to handle around grade 9, and it didn’t help that my school was a clique-infested breeding ground. But the emotional turmoil I was going through was too much, so I turned to cutting.
I hid the cuts pretty decently with a wrist band or a bandana, and at first that worked well enough. But my cutting had turned into an addiction; a need to make them bigger and deeper swelled up inside me until I finally started butchering my wrist. Chunks of my flesh started to come off because I was cutting over the same area again and again. My wrist-band protection started to falter because I was bleeding through. This was when it finally hit me like a truck: There was something seriously wrong with me and I needed to tell someone or I would never stop.
The summer before grade 10 I was prescribed a “light” anti-depressant by my family doctor. Everyone thought I was doing great on them. However, I wasn’t; I just got good at acting like I was happy and normal. I improved my methods of where to place my cuts. It was a constant game of hide and seek as I strategized where to cut so no one would see or notice. Every morning I gave myself a pep talk so I would seem happy. It was all a charade. It wasn’t until the middle of grade 10 that everyone finally understood that I was not okay.
Now, I really don’t recommend trying to overdose on Tylenol 3’s and then having to wake your parents out of damn-right chickening out. And I also don’t recommend being rushed to emergency where you’re forced to drink a bottle of liquid charcoal to keep your organs from failing. But that’s what I did, and yeah, it wasn’t fun; I had just unleashed my biggest secret onto my entire family and I still regret doing that. However, that attempt at ending my life was a wakeup call for not only myself, but for everyone else as well.
I spent a grand total of 4 months in the children’s psych ward, where I attended group therapy, singles therapy and started a new run of anti-depressants. It would take 4 types of medication and numerous ups and downs of dosages before the medication would “work.” Anti-depressants are pretty heavy drugs, and with the doses, I changed. It was like watching yourself in a dream, or like being in a haze that you could not out-run. I was trapped, living in a doped-up nightmare.
I stopped taking my pills in grade 12. I just felt like I couldn’t be me while on them. Plus, I never did stop cutting while I was on them. I don’t want young women to take this as a promotion to stop taking their pills. But in my case, it turned out okay for the most part.
Depression and cutting go hand in hand for me, and it’ll always be an uphill battle to resist the urge to gouge my skin or sleep until I’m sick with bed rest. Cutting will follow me for the rest of my life; it will pop up on low days and be virtually invisible on good days. All I can do is take one day at a time. I know now that if I ask for help it will come. If you have depression, remember you’re not alone and things will get better.