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What I Wish I Knew About Recovery While I Battled Depression

When I first started therapy, I never imagined I’d get this far. I went from thinking about killing myself every second to not even thinking about it at all. It took me a very long time to actually realize I was not weak, but sick. This disease was impacting every bit of my life, and I had absolutely no control over it. I felt alone, as if no one would understand or care. So those feelings manifested themselves in a harmful cycle of self-mutilation and anger.

Many people would probably never guess I was in an extremely low place, because I always seemed happy. My cuts were always covered and my smile was always on. When I did try to reach out to people, many shrugged it off, probably because it seemed unlikely the class clown was battling a dark demon. This led to me resenting the idea of treatment. But one day, I decided enough was enough, and I sought help. I found out that depression is quite common (almost 7 percent of American adults live with it), and anyone can be a victim of it. I also found out the key to getting better can be simple: talking. So that’s all I did for my first few therapy sessions. (And crying, lots and lots of crying.)

Eventually, my therapist realized there was only so much she could do, and so she referred me to a psychiatrist. I was prescribed anti-anxiety medication, but I took them loosely. I found this to be a mistake on my part, but I never wanted to depend on medication. My thoughts only worsened, and so I decided to take my medication seriously. Although getting slightly better, my suicidal thoughts didn’t diminish, and having easily accessible pills did not help my temptations. I went through about a dozen suicide notes, but I couldn’t pick the right one —which ultimately made me even more depressed, as I felt as though I couldn’t even do one thing right.

When I finished my second set of anti-anxiety meds, my psychiatrist decided not to prescribe any more. So therapy was once again scheduled every week. Through this, I learned to stay away from anything that could possibly trigger me, to take a time out whenever needed, to accept my mistakes, and to truly love myself (although it still is much harder than one might think). After a year and a half of intense therapy, my thoughts subsided, and I finally felt better. In short, therapy saved me from what could have been a horrific end.

What I wish I knew about recovery is simple: I wish I knew it was and is possible. And although I am embarking on my two-year anniversary since I last harmed myself, it is still a battle everyday. Temptations are still there when a problem arises, and the thoughts might still creep out once in a while. But a part of being in recovery is choosing to be strong and knowing what is best for yourself. Relapsing is also a part of recovery, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it. Before things get better, they often have to get worse.

Staying strong is hard, but it is worth it, and although I am still not where I want to be, I am much closer to it than I ever thought possible.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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