Story #24823

As I sit here writing my story for this campaign it makes me reflect on my past and think, “oh man, where do I even begin?” We all know that life is hard and even when we think we can no longer continue somehow our resilient human bodies do. So much goes on and it becomes apart of our story. As we grow up and go through elementary, middle, high school, and so on those memories shape us into versions of ourselves that for people like me would never even imagine. When I say people like me, I am talking about the people who have struggled heavily with depression, anxiety, and other intoxicating mental health illnesses.

A little backstory about me, I grew up with my mom and two older brothers. One lived with my grandmother and the other with us. We all have different fathers and never had a stable father figure in our life. My dad was constantly in and out of my life, back and forth in jail which little ole me at the time didn’t pay much mind to until one day he never came back. My mom eventually got married but still acted like a single mother which I still believe that she was so used to her ways that was her norm. When I was in middle school, I was bullied constantly about the way I looked and acted which lead me to having those thoughts of questioning my self-worth at a young age. Thinking about how I would rather get into a car crash than go to school. Mind you, I was only 11/12 years old. To escape from the bullying my mom ended up transferring me to a Christian school to “get right with God,” and to “be in a God worshipping community.” 90% of the student body was Caucasian and the other 10% were of other races who were adopted by a wealthy Caucasian family. You’d think that would theoretically fix things but honestly the bullying just got worse. The anxiety made my heart feel like it was going to explode out of my chest when I walked in every day with what felt like a million eyeballs watching me as I entered the building like they had never seen a mixed person of color before. The anxiety was always there, the feeling of being out of place and judged led to my depression. I felt like I never belonged.

During this same year my dad had tried to come back into my life and that same day I had my first ever anxiety attack. The fear of connecting with this man who was now a stranger, the feeling of him abandoning me when I needed a father figure most. It was a constant battle in my mind that I didn’t know how to navigate all my emotions and feelings. My mom eventually put me into counseling and to be completely real It never worked. Time after time again, telling my story over and over never felt right. I eventually started journaling and writing everything down. Even if it was just drawing scribbles which represented my brain. I needed to get the words out of my head and onto paper. That was my therapy. As I went on to ninth grade into a new building I started hanging out with the “wrong crowd” you could say. It was three other girls who were a few years older than I was. We all hated our peers and the school so we would eat lunch in the hallway outside of the cafeteria. I felt like I could relate to them more than anyone else in the school. Well, hanging out with an older crowd meant experimenting more with drugs and alcohol at a young age. Which when I realized I could suppress my feelings and find an “escape.” Somehow the word of me doing those things got to the school and they ended up calling my mom in so we could discuss my mental state which led me to Wedgewood rehab facility in Grand Rapids, MI for a week. Do I think it helped? To this day I still don’t think I can answer that but hey it’s apart of my story, it builds character they’d say right? (Yes, it’s okay you can laugh.)

I ended up transferring again to a public school because I wanted a sense of belonging. To finally be around people with the same ethnicity as me. To be around people who didn’t have the newest clothes or brand-new cars that their parents bought them for their 16th birthday. I felt a weight off my shoulders and that anxiety go away when I walked into the entrance. It was one of the best decisions that I could have ever made.

When I graduated from high school, I decided to go to college. I didn’t have the best GPA due to all the crap I went through but hey I did it anyways! I got accepted to two colleges and went for it. I wanted to at least TRY and to get out of town. It was fun and I met amazing people who I keep in contact with to this day. I made it a year and a half until my mental health began to take over again. I was feeling defeated, my grades were sinking, I didn’t want to continue with life. I took a week off school and decided to try medications again which indeed didn’t last. When I returned to school after a mental health break, I got a call one day after being back that I had to come home and to pack my bags. When I went home, I found out that my grandpa had passed away. I was the last one to find out because my grandma was worried about my mental health. He was the only male figure in my life that I had and who had believed in me. I was devastated and heartbroken that I could not say goodbye. I then ended up taking time off school to focus on my mental health and figure out what direction was best for me.

During that time, I had hopped job to job in retail then worked my way up to retail management. I then “surprisingly” had gotten pregnant right after my 21st birthday. So many emotions had filled inside of me that many moms can relate to. Before I had gotten pregnant, I was still drinking and smoking pot like no tomorrow because I was lost. During those 9 months I had grown so much and reflected on my life. I wanted to do better for my baby. I wanted him to grow up in a happy family. I focused on my mental health and decided that I needed to change. Even if it was mandatory that I cut off the friends who weren’t good for me. Who wasn’t motivating me to be the best version of myself. When I had my baby, it gave my heart a light and touch of love that I never thought I would have. It gave me another reason to keep living and moving on. 4 months post-partum I decided to look for work and it was very hard truthfully. Nobody wanted a mom that had just had a baby and hadn’t worked for the last 9 months a long with not having a degree. It was hard finding a job and I felt discouraged. One night, I had searched on google, ‘suicide prevention’ because I felt a calling. I thought to myself if I can help people who are like me as a job that would be amazing. A week later, I got a call saying that they would like me to come in for an interview. I was so happy, and I prayed to God every night, “please Lord, let me have this opportunity to grow and to support my family. I will make sacrifices, please please please.” Another week went on and I got another call saying that they wanted to offer me the position. THANK YOU, JESUS. I am now working as a peer support specialist walking alongside others in their mental health journey. Being the person that I needed when I was younger. Telling them my story and reminding them that they can get through the storm. Mental illness is a constant battle and molds us into resilient strong human beings. No matter how hard it gets. Life keeps on going but remember only a bad day lasts 24 hours. Never give up on yourself because you will get through this.

Thanks for reading.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek immediate help.

988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

1-866-512-4357 – Crisis Helpline, CMH of Ottawa County

616-494-5590 – Children’s Mobile Crisis, Ottawa County (available weekdays 5:00pm-midnight)

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Warning

This content may contain sensitive subject matter, including but not limited to discussions of mental health conditions, self-harm, suicide, and sexual assault. If you are in crisis or need immediate support, please contact a mental health professional or a crisis hotline. Viewer discretion is advised.

  • 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • 1-866-512-4357 – Crisis Helpline, CMH of Ottawa County 
  • 616-494-5590 – Children’s Mobile Crisis, Ottawa County (available weekdays 5:00pm-midnight)