This article contains mentions of weight loss and symptoms of depression, which could be triggering.
I had always struggled with anxiety from an early age. I needed to know the entire schedule for the entire day along with meals from the moment I woke up. I needed to know who I would see that day, what I would be eating for breakfast lunch and dinner prior to even eating my first meal of the day. I didn’t do well with change and became anxious when plans modified spontaneously.
My mental health officially starts in the spring of 2015. I was an 18-year-old senior in high school and this was supposed to be “the year” and instead turned out to be the worst year. I had a manipulative and controlling boyfriend and we ended up being on and off for 3-4 years. I didn’t have many close friends and so I spent most of my time with my boyfriend and his friends.
Now, one might thing spring time during senior year… isn’t that prom season? Shouldn’t that be a happy time? I want to take a moment to explain my life at that time because I believe it is a key factor in how/why I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I did. In the fall of 2014 my boyfriend’s ex found out she was pregnant. For simplicity reasons, she ended up keeping the baby and my boyfriend and I ended up staying together. You might be thinking “why stay?” I still cannot explain or come up with a “valid” reason why I did. But at the time I just thought “how can I leave him for something that happened before we were together?” The baby mama did not like me and did anything in her power to make me feel miniscule and to break up my boyfriend and I. Come prom season all I wanted was to get a cute promposal. But the baby was born in March and our prom was shortly after… My boyfriend and I had made a deal to go separately with groups of friends but days before the dance he called me and told me his mom wanted him to take the baby mama to prom. He said his mom wanted the baby to have a picture of his parents together with him. And me being the tolerant, understanding girlfriend went along because he promised that at prom we would spend time together and we would go to an after party together. But you guessed it. He spent the whole night with the baby mama and prom was the worst night of my high school career. I woke up the next morning sobbing and swore to myself I’d break up with him.
So my prom didn’t go as planned… and leading up to prom I had lost so much weight that my prom dress that fit perfectly weeks earlier hung on my body as if I was a clothes hanger. I became very sick and I wouldn’t eat. Then when I tried to eat my body wasn’t used to processing the food that it made me feel worse so I would go back to not eating. I had always been a small petite girl. I have weighed 100lbs since I was 13 years old but in my prom dress I barely weighed 93lbs… For the first time in my life my hipbones bulged out of my body even while I was standing. At dinner before the dance girls would tell me how “good” I looked and how “skinny” I looked. Little did they know I had hated myself, the way I looked, and the way I felt.
Once I found out why I lost so much weight, and why I didn’t feel hungry, I felt so embarrassed. I was a cheerleader all throughout high school. I was co-captain of my school’s varsity cheerleading team my senior year. I told a very select few friends about being diagnosed with anxiety and mild to moderate depression because I felt like I had to keep up this happy bubbly cheerleader persona. I felt like I was a liability to my friends and family. When I did tell people, they were so caught off guard and surprised. The only one who knew what I had been dealing with was (and still is) my best friend since I was 4 years old. She is my rock, my biggest supporter and I am so grateful for her because she is the one person I know I can always count on. She also deals with anxiety so when I had to try different medications and start going to therapy she understood what that felt like. She helped me get excited and want to go to therapy instead of dreading it.
Fast forwarding to present day I have yet to have a major relapse or to go through deep depression again. I have medication I take daily for my depression as well as medication for anxiety attacks. I still see a therapist and my psychiatrist every once and awhile but I no longer have weekly or bimonthly appointments. I have learned to become very comfortable and confident with my mental health. I have used my social media platforms to speak out about my trials and tribulations with mental health and I have received hate. I’m not going to lie. People have tried to use my openness about my mental health against me. I have had girls say things like “go take your meds” and “crazy” or “psychotic”. Sometimes it gets to me but what makes it worth it is when people message me saying my story has inspired them. When people tell me about what they are dealing with and how I have helped them realize it’s okay.
I just came back from spending 6 months in Asia and just traveling and enjoying life. I gained 10lbs in 2 months of being away and I completely credit that to the stress-free life style I had. I just spent time with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years. But as my return to the states approached my stress-free lifestyle slowly dwindled away and the weight I had gained so easily was lost just as easily. I have been back in the states for about a month and I am still working towards gaining those 10lbs back. I used to think that I just don’t gain weight and that it was just my body type which is partially true. But for the first time in 7 years I gained weight. I had gained 10lbs in 2 months. But now that I know I can and that it’s me and my anxiety that is preventing me from gaining anymore weight I have come up with a diet plan and made it a goal for myself.
I’m still learning how to deal with my anxiety and depression. But now I know the signs and what to do when I think I’m about to have an anxiety attack. I have become aware of what scenarios make me anxious so I can take my anxiety medication prior to that situation. I keep nutrition shakes in my fridge at all times so that even when I don’t feel hungry but know I should eat I can just drink one. I know now that I can rise above my lowest moments and that I’m not alone. I’m not longer that lonely 18-year-old girl that doesn’t want to be a liability. I am a 20-year-old who traveled southeast Asia by herself, starting a skincare line from the bottom up, and a soon to be certified esthetician. I can be whoever I want to be and I am the only one stopping me from evolving.