The past is a part of me but doesn’t define me

In honor of national Mental Health Awareness Month, Brush and Palette writers wish to open up about their personal experiences to promote discussion of various mental health topics that affect our student body.

Clarence Cooper

In honor of national Mental Health Awareness Month, Brush and Palette writers wish to open up about their personal experiences to promote discussion of various mental health topics that affect our student body.

Zoe Bowman, Business Manager

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Mental health has been a taboo topic in the past, but in more recent years, many people have come out to talk about what they suffer from. This is my story.

My depression first started when I was 11 years old. I had just moved to Laguna from Phoenix, Arizona. My parents had started new jobs in Los Angeles and my brother just began high school, so my family went from a very tight-knit group to never really seeing each other. As the years progressed, things started to look good. My family started to get close again. Then, right before the start of seventh grade, my parents got a divorce. It didn’t come as a shock to me, but that seemed like the beginning of bad things.

During seventh grade, my close friends wrote a letter to me saying they didn’t want to be my friend anymore, and that I was a horrible person that only brought bad luck. I had so many classes with these girls, and I didn’t know how to face them or anyone afterwards. I eventually stopped going to school. People who I had told my deepest secrets and my life experiences to didn’t want anything to do with me. My grades started slipping, and I just gave up on everything. Eventually, summer approached, and things started looking up. But this feeling wouldn’t last long. In August, my Papa passed away. My whole world ended. My grandfather was the biggest role model in my life, and this was so sudden and unexpected that I didn’t know how to handle it.

I remember just sitting in the bath the night after we got the news. I just wanted to sink into the water and float down the drain. I sat there and cried for what seemed like a day. I reached over and grabbed my razor. I was going to start shaving my legs when I remembered reading stuff about people who would hurt themselves to relieve their pain. So that’s what I did.

This wasn’t a habit at first. It took a while for me to realize this could become an everyday action like brushing your teeth. In eighth grade, I made friends with all the new kids at my school. We had gotten really close with each other, and soon I realized that a majority of these friends self-harmed, as well. Since the death of my Papa still loomed over me and stress from school and family life was hitting me hard, I needed something to cope. So I started cutting myself regularly. Every time I would bring the blade to my skin, I didn’t think I was making scars or hurting myself. I thought, with every cut, that I was realizing what I wanted to say to people: how much they hurt me, why I was hurting, asking why everything was happening.

My self-harming got worse and worse. I started cutting for the sake of it. There was no deeper meaning anymore. Cutting is like doing drugs; it is a drug. At first, you get high and it makes you feel amazing and free, but as time goes on,  the high starts getting shorter and less amazing. Soon, it becomes an everyday thing that is hurting you.

Now, this isn’t “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I’m not on a vengeful path to hurt all the people who did me wrong. I’m not trying to make people feel sorry for me. This is my story of how I overcame this and how I’m still living with it. At my grandmother’s house, I was ruining my arms again, not even paying attention. When I looked and saw my arms, I thought, “What the hell did I just do?” My arms were red, raw, and ruined. Then I thought about how people saw me, because I was never one to hide my scars. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t do this anymore.

At first, it was hard to stay clean. I would stay clean for a couple of months and then I would hurt myself again. Then finally, on May 15, 2015 I decided no more b.s. I was going go cold turkey. Two years later, I’m still clean.

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