Tell Your Story, Change the Stigma

EMILY DEVILDER

            I first started experiencing anxiety and depression when I was in sixth or seventh grade. I vividly remember wanting to stay in my room and curl into a ball because I was so anxious all the time. It was extremely hard for me to perform tasks like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. I would sit and cry for hours, wishing that the pain that I was feeling would leave and never come back.

            Fast forward to high school, I realized that I had hit rock bottom. My grandpa and my grandma both died my freshman year of high school, which completely threw me off. Their deaths completely shook me to my core because, in my eyes, they were both untouchable. I was in this state of denial that they were gone and were completely ripped out of my life with not a single warning. This triggered my depression and I quickly became someone who was sad all the time, angry at everything on this planet and was a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. I was very quick to anger, even with the people that I loved most. I was mean, and I separated myself from my family and my friends. I was falling behind in school, not participating in sports, and hated anything that had to deal with other people. I hated the way I looked on the outside, but also hated who I was on the inside. I was turning into a monster. I was turning into someone who I would later never recognize.

            I started to slip further and further away, into this life that was so dark and full of sadness, hate, confusion and anger. I wanted to be gone. I wanted to be gone and never come back. I wanted to be pain-free, and free of all the thoughts that were in my head. I remember crawling into bed, sobbing because I felt like I had no one, not even myself anymore because of all of the damage I have caused. I was lost.

            Sometime that same night, I went to my parents’ bedroom and talked to them about the things I had been thinking and feeling. I remember telling them that I needed help and I needed to talk to someone other than my family and few friends I had. I knew I needed help and I needed help fast. My parents began researching therapists and counselors around the areas that I could talk to and start seeing to get the help I needed. My parents were so supportive and wanted me to get help and the treatment that I deserved.

            6 years later, I still see the same therapist.

            6 years later, I am someone I never knew I could become.

            6 years later, I am so close with my family and I have solid, loving friends.

            6 years later, I have the best support system a girl could dream of having.

            6 years later, I take medicine for my anxiety and my depression, and that is okay.

            6 years later, I am alive.

There are many people that don’t know how to reach out or don’t know where to start when they know they need to advocate for themselves. That is why I chose to share my story. At one point in my life, I didn’t have a voice and I didn’t know where to begin or what to do. I hope that sharing my story opens another door for others and allows them to gain the strength and courage to reach out and receive help. Your story is just as important and with sharing my story, I hope that it provides comfort and closure for whoever needs it most.

If you take away anything from my story, it is this. Don’t give up on yourself. Never give up or lose hope in yourself and the strength you have from within. Even on the darkest of days, remember this: It’s okay to not be okay. You are on this earth for a reason and you have a purpose. You are loved. You are strong. You are brave. You are kind. You are beautiful. You are human. You are going to overcome whatever pain or hurt you are feeling. You are going to conquer all life throws at you because you are capable.

If you feel like you have no one, you have me.

I am here for you. I will fight this fight with you.

You matter. Your life matters.

You are not alone.

2 thoughts on “Tell Your Story, Change the Stigma

  1. Emily–What a great story to share–and so timely! The pandemic has been so hard on mental health. “Inside Higher Ed” had an article today that said the over 50% of college students in a recent major study tested clinically positive for anxiety and depression.

    Students need to see that it is something you can move through and things do get brighter. You sharing your story may help many find that faith. Thank you.

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