My Mental Health Story and How it Shaped Me

 woman with white sneakers running through air in front of blue mural

Suicide Does Not Discriminate

Flashback to March of 2012: I was in the eighth grade and was not aware that I was suffering from mental illness. One day at school, a classmate tells me, “No one likes you, Anjali.” I did not want to be bullied any longer, and it’s at that point that I considered ending my own life.

I came home after school that same day, and no one was home. I had already decided on my method and made a note; fortunately, I didn’t succeed in ending my own life.

I never thought I would end up attempting suicide.

Getting Help

After I failed, I went back to my homework as if nothing had happened. The next day, though, I confided in a trusted friend about my attempt. She then told my sibling, and, in turn, he told my parents. My parents then decided to send me to a therapist to deal with my suicidal thoughts and to figure out what disorder I might have.

I started seeing the therapist on a weekly basis a week or two after the attempt. It was helpful, but recovery is a long road. Because of the therapy, my outlook on life became more positive going into my first year of high school.

It went well for the first couple of months, until the bullying started back up.

The Bump in the Road

When the bullying got worse in school, I began to self-harm whenever I had a really bad day. One teacher had done something about the bullying, and I greatly appreciated it.

But, in the second semester of that first year, I got suspended from school for defending myself.

I admit how I acted was childish and immature, but part of the problem was the medication I was prescribed. The medication was making me more erratic than usual.

After the event, I stopped self-harming and kept everything inside.

The depression made me feel isolated and angry. I made it through my first year of high school, despite dealing with feelings of isolation and anger.

Over the summer, I started to heal from my depression through church and therapy.

Sophomore Start-Over

My second year of high school was one of the happiest times of my life, just like my sophomore year of college. There was still bullying, but I saw it as a reflection of the person doing the bullying. I truly believed God was healing me at the time and showing me that everything was going to be fine.

I also didn’t self-harm that year. I wrote in a journal if I was upset about anything. Journaling is one of my biggest coping mechanisms for my mental health.  It has really helped with my coping skills--and my writing skills as well. All positive thoughts on sophomore year.

The Two-Year Hell

Junior and senior year of high school was when the pot started to boil over. I began driving and started to feel more like an adult. Junior year, I struggled with depression, bullying, and peer pressure.

At the end of junior year, I considered suicide once more.

That summer was horrible as well. I started self-harming again. I really did not want to return to school for senior year. I thought I would be miserable again. I just wanted to skip senior year and head to college for a fresh start.

The start of senior year was a happy time for me, and I had only self-harmed once during the semester. Then I stopped self-harming and started being myself for once in my life. That’s just one way to defeat mental illness, because being yourself is a part of good mental health.

Later that year, a bullying incident took place and the suicidal thoughts returned. It was serious enough that the student was kicked out of school, but I suffered with traumatic stress afterwards.

Honestly, the depression was telling me to either end my life or run away.

I took the road less traveled and focused on getting into college. Fortunately, I was accepted into my dream college in December of 2015. My heart seemed to find hope in that moment.

Second semester of senior year, I tried to enjoy my last few months, and I did feel better some days. But the bullying was worse than before, and I had no friends to support me through the last months of high school.

Yet I walked across the stage to get my diploma and graduated with honors; so, my haters would know they did not win.

The Next Stage of Life

After getting the diploma, I put my best face forward heading into college as a psychology major. At this college, I was hoping for a fresh start and started to put my past behind me for once. I didn’t struggle with suicidal thoughts for the first semester, but I did at the beginning of the second semester of first year. I received counseling sessions at the school.

I had begun to seek help again that summer with the same therapist I saw in high school. The treatment helped, and I went into sophomore year with confidence and good coping mechanisms. It was during sophomore year that I seemed to be completely happy with my surroundings.

A little early in the semester, I found out one of my friends had died by suicide. I was devastated by the loss and decided to become a strong advocate for suicide prevention. At that point in my career was when I decided to turn my pain into purpose.

After the loss, I decided to choose a career in counseling suicidal individuals. I even made a public narrative about teen suicide and suicide prevention for my communications class. I became a strong supporter of the Crisis Hotline (741-741) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

In 2018, I’m halfway through college, and I sometimes still struggle with mental illness.

But I fight everyday to see the good in everything, because I know I have purpose in this world.

I am stronger than my mental illness and you are too. Keep fighting.