Dear Dr. Archer,
Ever since junior high, I knew I wasn't truly happy. In eighth grade I came down with some sort of condition. I'd get dizzy after I'd stretch, and then have seizure-like episodes. They were really scary and dangerous, and doctors could not figure out what was causing them.
I've finally grown out of it six years later. During my freshman year in high school everything started going wrong. Between multiples illnesses and tragedies within my family -- grandfather, Parkinson's Disease; little brother, kidney damage; uncle, suicide attempts; and mother, cancer -- all within six months of each other, I began getting depressed.
Much of this was because it was hard for me as a 14 year old to realize I could lose someone I cared about so easily. I had guilt about my brother's kidney damage because it happened while I was watching him. I wasn't doing great in school or athletics, so I started drinking about three times a day. Alcohol was difficult to get, so when I ran out I used inhalants.
For the next four years I was inhaling and drinking whenever possible. It was so routine that I didn't even think I was doing something bad. Things began to get better; I had a boyfriend and things were going well, but I was still inhaling. Throughout my relationship, my boyfriend raped me multiple times. I didn't care at the time; I thought I needed him around.
When he broke up with me after a year and a half I started to realize everything that happened and that he had been using me. This brought down my self esteem. My grandfather died, which was a difficult time, and then my dad was in an accident. I fell into another depression, like nothing mattered, and I started changing.
I started wearing darker colors, dark make-up, etc. I started cutting my wrists, inhaling more, drinking more. I'd put string around my neck but then decide it wasn't worth it.
I was numb for months; the depression was getting worse but I was hiding it from my family. Only a few people knew, but eventually my family found out. I was sent to see a therapist who knew everything I was doing. It started helping, but sometimes when I told her I hadn't cut in weeks, she'd say she didn't believe me, which really upset me.
I left her office one day and bought sleeping pills. I used some to knock me out. The next day I drove my brother to school and the minute he got out of the car to walk into school, I took a bunch of pills. They made my body and mind feel weak.
A teacher found out and I had to go to a mental hospital to get evaluated. I was free to go later, but then I did the whole thing again. More pills, got caught and sent to the hospital. They checked my liver and noticed the levels were very high. After they came down, I was free to go.
I started using tobacco, and got caught at school, receiving a 3 day suspension. My anger was off the charts and my mind was racing. Then I realized just what I was doing and how I was acting.
After that day, I stopped using anything and everything. I realized how many people were trying to help me, and I couldn't let them down. In order to help them help me, I had to help myself.
I struggle, and have given in only a few times to drinking or getting high. But I love my life now, and everything I have done to get me to where I am makes me who I am today. I try not to be embarrassed by my cutting scars. It reminds me of everything I've been through and what I’m still living with.
So to anyone who has ever had suicidal feelings or have been depressed, it's not the end. The pain does not last forever. It might last a long time, but it doesn't last forever.
One day you'll find happiness and no one wants to see you go. People really do care, but you have to help yourself some, too. Now that I have found happiness, I strive to keep this feeling as long as I live.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Some have depression due to circumstances, while others have depression due to a chemical imbalance. Regardless, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through counseling, medication and caring, compassionate people, help and relief can be found.
You have traveled a very dark, lonely road, but I am thrilled to hear that you have found the light. You are an inspiration for others who are even now experiencing this for themselves. You show the importance of never, ever giving up, that there is more to life than darkness and misery.
Everyone is beautiful; every person has worth. Hope is always with us. For everyone reading this letter, you MUST believe that. Thank you Jesse, I wish you a bright future!