SHARED BY MEREDITH ABBS
The Start of a Journey
I am fifteen years old and a sophomore in high school. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) when I was in 4th grade. Now that I’ve covered the basics, let me tell you about my journey through anxiety and depression.
It started when I was in 8th grade, near the beginning of the school year. I thought life was going pretty well, but one day—and I don’t know why or how—something in my brain snapped. I absolutely hated being around people. I didn’t really talk to my friends or even my family. I felt like everyone around me didn’t want me to exist. I felt that they hated me because of my ADD and because of every little thing I did. So much anger, guilt, sadness, and grief had built up inside of me.
One day, I wrote in a journal about how I was feeling. I have thrown the journal out since then because I feel it isn't healthy to dwell on negative events that happened in your past. That being said, I do remember some of what I wrote that day:
"Nobody cares about me."
"No one listens, they hate me, and I’m meaningless."
"I want to run away and never come back."
"I bet no one would even notice if I ran away."
But I was so wrong about it all. Everything I said about people not caring about me, about no one noticing if I ran away—it wasn't true. My best friend, Misty, noticed that something was wrong with me and that I wasn’t acting like myself. She decided to take me to see the school counselor.
I will never forget that day. Misty sat with me as I told the counselor about everything I was feeling and everything that was going on. Misty even shared what she saw and felt from her perspective about my mental state. After we talked for a while, Misty had to get back to class.
Now, this is the darkest thought that I have had in my life so far. I was afraid of death, but I told the counselor, "I sometimes feel like no one would notice if I committed suicide." Due to school policy, my mom had to be called into the building.
I remember my mom sobbing when I told her what I was feeling at the time. She told me how she felt and what she would do if I actually did take my own life. This meeting helped me realize that my family really did care about me. Still, the feeling that many of my friends didn’t care about me was still there. The meeting with my mom was the first step in my long road to recovery.
Coping and Recovering
After my meeting, I was scheduled for therapy with my private counselor. I was pulled out of school early, and we met every day for two weeks. I also saw my school counselor on a daily basis for about three weeks. We would talk about my feelings, my relationships with friends and family, my coping strategies, and basically everything else in my life.
One of the biggest coping strategies for me then was journaling my thoughts whenever I wasn’t thinking positively—writing multiple entries a day at first. Another huge coping mechanism for me was coloring. Every minute of free time that I had, I was coloring. It calmed me down so quickly and put me in a serene state of mind. I still use this coping mechanism now!
Even though I received all of this help, that didn’t mean that my negative thoughts were gone. At the time, the only friend who knew about my problem was Misty. I finally gathered up the courage to tell my other friend, Krystal, about what was going on. She stood by me every step of the way, and she supported me no matter what happened.
As I was facing and dealing with my negative feelings and thoughts, my mom decided to keep me out of school for a day for a mental health day. We started by going to Starbucks (one of my favorite places) and then to Ross, where we tried on some clothes. We didn’t even purchase anything; we just had fun shopping. We then went to Michael’s to get some fun crafting supplies like coloring books, colored pencils, and stickers. After lunch at Portillo’s, we headed back home. We made some crafts, watched some of our favorite television shows and movies, and had a great time. That day helped me put me in a better state of mind and really helped me get out of my funk.
My friends decided to support me by writing some nice notes to me saying how much they appreciated me and how important I was to them. I cried tears of joy after I read some of those notes. I then met one of my absolute best friends, Jennifer. We were in our school’s honors choir together, and we became instant friends. We shared interests and talked about everything. Meeting Jennifer was one of the last few things that I needed to push me into my positive and normal mindset again.
Talking It Out
Anxiety didn’t really come around for me until the end of my freshman year of high school and was triggered primarily by the genocide unit in a class on global issues. The things that happened to so many people were so horrific that it caused me to become anxious about life. I remember thinking that my life would be gone in the blink of an eye and that maybe heaven wouldn’t be so great after all, just a vast sea of nothingness.
Two things helped me:
I had an amazing, caring teacher who very sensitive to my anxiety and was with me every step of the way, even sitting with me and the high school counselor to talk about what was going on.
I was able to spend some private time with our church pastor, discussing what Catholics believe about heaven and what it is like. He was very nice and patient with me, explaining that many believe heaven is a state of being more than a physical place.
With the help of these two people, the anxiety lessened slowly. It still comes back every now and then, but these things never truly leave you. Still, I am continually realizing just how much my family, friends, and counselors truly do care about me.
I am also discovering just how helpful it is to talk things out. Texting is great and all (I am a teenager, for sure), but emotional matters can be taken the wrong way and come out the wrong way when put into writing. Before you know it, what you intended is not at all how it’s being perceived.
So please, talk it out. Seek professional help. And do realize, above all else, that you are not alone. People do care about you, and they will see you through.