I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety around my 14th birthday. I was put on medication straight away, due to the severity of both. It impacted my schooling a lot, I didn’t want to go, and when I did go, I would have at least 1 anxiety attack every day. This was exhausting. I also had pretty intense therapy once a week and a meeting with a counsellor once a week as well.
My mental health drastically affected my friendships. I became withdrawn and not very pleasant to be around. I felt so alone, I had no idea what was happening to me. I was scared.
I turned to self-harm to help me cope with all these strong emotions. It started at home, in the mornings before school and then before I went to bed. Then I started at school. My emotions were so big and so hard to handle, that hurting myself made them calm down.
What didn’t help was many rumours spread about me, how I was a freak who cut herself. People would make jokes around me about slitting their wrists. What those people didn’t know was I was doing that, and their joking made it worse.
I also swapped friendship groups around this time. And my new friends really tried their best to help me, and continue to do so.
After a few months of hardly any improvement, I was getting sick of it. I was frustrated. That’s when the first thoughts of suicide popped into my head. They were loud and controlling, and soon I found myself telling my therapist that I wanted to die.
She thought it would be best if I spent a few days in a local hospital, just to help break up the cycle of thoughts. I also would be supervised 24/7 as well so I couldn’t do anything to harm myself.
After the hospital stay, it was decided that I would do school part time so I could focus on my recovery. It was best for me at the time, but I did feel like an outsider every time I went to school. People kept asking me why I wasn’t at school all the time, and all I could say back was ‘I’m sick’.
Which was true, but it wasn’t a physical illness.
I finished that year off, took the Christmas break and came back to school full time the next year. Heading into year 10, I was completely freaked out.
I did an alternate maths programme because I didn’t do much maths the year before. I still had a lot of anxiety attacks and a new challenge of disassociation. I was done, within around 5 weeks, I was done. I had relapsed badly in self-harm, and the suicidal thoughts were back and louder than ever.
During the holidays, I never got a break from these thoughts.
Within the first week back, I had written a suicide note and was starting to collect pills so I could overdose. I was 15.
My therapist, bless her, managed to tease this information out of me. She decided then that it would be best if I went to the major children’s hospital in the state, and spend a few days in their mental ward.
So I did, I packed my bags and me and my parents left. I spent 4 days in there, with 24/7 hour access to people to talk to. This helped me a lot.
I still had the suicidal thoughts, but I was handling them better.
I went back to school and kept going.
Throughout the rest of last year, I still had suicidal thoughts, I still self-harmed, I still thought about how much I wanted to die. But, I let those thoughts of suicide, just be thoughts.
Later in that year, I figured out what my future career will be, I reduced my therapy. I kept going.
And that’s the single biggest message I take away from everything I have been through. If I die today, there’s no chance that it will get better. I won’t get to travel, buy a car, go to university. I won’t be able to graduate from school or get my own dogs. I won’t recover, I’ll just be dead. And so will my story.
Lost forever because I wasn’t alive to tell it anymore.
And yes, I still relapse in self-harm, I still have nights where I cry myself to sleep because I just want to die. But, I’ve learnt that there is so much in life to look forward to, and I just have to keep that in mind.
Dealing with suicidal thoughts is very tough, and my hat goes off to anyone like me, who keeps going, keeps dealing with these thoughts. Talking about it, making it okay to raise your hand and say ‘I’m struggling’ is something that as a society, we need to keep working on.
Through my instagram (ebonyjcoe), amongst other things, I share my story. I share my thoughts and my experiences day to day with mental illness. I hope that if people see me being open and honest about how I feel, then it might encourage them to seek help or just start the conversation about mental illness.
There’s nothing wrong with being mentally ill, yet for so long, because of what I saw on TV and social media, I thought that it was wrong and shameful.
I try my best to raise awareness for mental health and break down the stigma surrounding it.
I hope this story helps teenagers and their mental health and encourages them to speak up if they are struggling.
Written by Ebony (instagram: ebonyjcoe)
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