Mental illness knows no boundaries. It strikes without remorse and drags its victims down into its evil hole of darkness. It does not discriminate. Mental illness doesn’t care what race you are; it doesn’t care about your social standing; it doesn’t care about your background; and it doesn’t care what age you are. Children to seniors can struggle with mental illness. It’s impossible to tell when it will unleash its furry.
It’s hard to tell exactly at what age mental illness took control of my life. I know I was young. My mom told me I was a happy child until I started going to school. School changed me. I was different. I struggled with a learning disability and teachers and classmates thought it meant I was stupid. I think I slowly slid into depression year after year as I faced bullying. Mental illness ran in my family. I think I inherited my illness and the bullying forced it to show its ugliness within me.
The bullying began in first grade. That’s when my self-esteem started declining. I began to question my intelligence. Everyone said I was stupid, but my mom said I was smart. I wanted to believe my mom, but each day my classmates and teachers put me down. Sadness slowly began to seep into my soul.
The sadness grew from year to year, and from year to year I began to believe I was useless and stupid. I began struggling to sleep at night and became scared to face school. I tried to push the feelings behind me. By the time I was a teenager, I couldn’t ignore the feelings within me. I fell deep into a dark hole. Feelings of hopelessness engulfed me. Everything that once made me happy no longer brought me joy. Life was an endless hole I fell down and I couldn’t see any way out of. I cried easily and even the simple things my family said upset me. My brothers’ brotherly teasing angered me and set me off into a fit.
By eighth grade, I fell deeper into my sadness. I wanted so much to call out for help, but I was afraid. I feared no one would understand. I thought my parents wouldn’t care or love me anymore if they knew how badly I hurt. I kept my feelings buried within me. They ate at me and drew me down deeper. I screamed out in anguish, but the screams never parted my lips. It took all my strength to face another day. I often felt like I couldn’t go on and I often imagined what it would be like if I were dead. I imagined scenarios where I was hurt or dead. This became my coping technique.
Mental illness dragged me down into its hole and tortured me. It didn’t care how young I was or that I had loving parents. It knew no boundaries to its torment. The mistake I made is I told no one how I felt, and because I kept my feelings to myself, I hit rock bottom by the time I graduated from school. It wasn’t until I was in college and I started injuring regularly, planning my death, and attempting suicide that I confided in my mom.
Mental illness doesn’t care who it strikes, but if you confide in someone you trust, you can stop it before it leads you down the wrong road. This illness may not have any boundaries, but the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can gain control of it and reach recovery. Whatever age you are, turn to someone one you trust and ask for help. The road to recovery won’t be easy, but the sooner you catch it, the less control it will have on you and recovery will be closer to your reach. The quicker you ask for help, the less time it will take to undo the damage mental illness has done.
It took me into my adult years to ask for help, but once I did, I was able to get the help I needed. I regret not asking for help sooner, but I am glad I did before I succeeded at taking my life. Recovery took years, but I now stand in the light.