I am obviously not a doctor. I’ve done my own research online into my diagnoses in particular, but that gets one only so far. I don’t know how chemicals in the brain work or how individual medications affect them. Where most of my knowledge comes from is personal experience. I was hit hard at a young age by mental illness, and for over a decade now I’ve been plagued by depression and psychotic symptoms. That’s where I speak from now.
I said before that I was not diagnosed with clinical depression until 8th grade when I was 12, but that in hindsight I would say symptoms started in 4th grade. So that’s where we’ll start today.
When I was 8, just going into 4th grade, I didn’t have many friends, and none that I would have called that close. I had made some friends in my 3rd grade class, but when we were in different classes in 4th, they pretty much immediately stopped talking to me and moved on without me. I wouldn’t blame them exactly – such things happen at that age, and I was kind of a weird kid who had just moved there in 2nd while they had all grown up together. Kids are kids, and friend groups change easily enough for a lot of kids. But I was socially awkward, sensitive, and, like I said, kind of weird. Which doesn’t always bode well for a child.
Feeling abandoned by my only friends did not sit well with me. Whether or not that triggered my illnesses, I do not know. Maybe I remember wrong and they started before all of that. In any case, I stopped caring about myself and adopted the belief that people would be better off without me. I probably would have killed myself that year if not for a few other things. But those are for a different day. I spent the next several years hoping to not wake up again after going to sleep at night. I started to suspect I had depression in middle school, after reading about it and analyzing my own life, but I didn’t have a severe episode until I was 12.
A few months before my 13th birthday, I started missing more school. I already had spotty attendance due to physical health issues, but at this point I was missing at least a day of every week. I drifted away from my favorite hobbies, opting instead to sleep or, at the very least, lay in bed staring at the wall. I pushed the friends I’d gained away. I would go days without eating. I vividly remember my gym teacher asking me if I was eating. I stopped caring much about school, stopped doing homework, stopped taking care of myself. I would pull out my math book after school, look at it for a minute, lay on the couch, wake up around 2 in the morning, and just move to my own bed without taking a shower or anything.
Eventually, when things were really bad, I brought it up to my mom. I’d hidden it all from her and everyone else until that point. Thankfully, she didn’t question me and just took me to the doctor. That’s when I first went on antidepressants, which seemed to only be somewhat effective some of the time. But it was enough to keep me going for a couple of years.
To be continued…