It consumed me.
I was only 12-years-old, and it was all I could think about.
From an overhead view, it looked like I was laughing and having fun with my friends, but internally my brain was exploding with thoughts I couldn’t control.
I wanted to go back to before this all started.
But I couldn’t, and even if I could, I wouldn’t know where to go back to. My days all blurred together. Had a minute, hour, or day passed?
I knew I was sick, but I was too independent to ask for help.
I was embarrassed.
Telling myself, “You can get through this,” “Be strong,” “Think happy thoughts.”
But it wasn’t that easy.
I would have good and bad days, but they would all end the same way.
As the months passed, I became more depressed. I was digging myself into a never-ending hole that just kept getting deeper. And I was all alone in this hole. My secret hole of sadness no one knew about.
Not even the people who knew me the best.
I went to school and put on a brave face. I pretended that nothing was wrong. Faking was easy there. I was forced to think about my school work, and negative thoughts were pushed to the back of my mind.
But as soon as I arrived home, they all flooded back.
All of this got me thinking, what’s the point?
What’s the point of living if I can’t live life to the fullest?
One night, after watching TV with my little sister, all my thoughts overflowed from the bottle I had shoved them in.
At first, I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was I couldn’t breathe.
It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.
My heart was going a mile a minute, about to beat out of my body.
I thought maybe my time had come All this time spent thinking about death and now it was actually happening.
But I didn’t want to go out like this.
Running to my parent’s room with one hand on my pounding chest, I shook my mom to wake her and tell her I couldn’t breathe.
She woke my dad up and told him he needed to take me to the emergency room. We put on our jackets and shoes and were about to walk out the door when my mom asked me if there had been anything on my mind lately.
It’s like secretly she knew. She could tell I wasn’t acting like myself. I thought I had hidden it so well.
At this point, I lost it. I broke down and told her what I had been going through these past months. After I let her into the secret hole, the elephant got off my chest and a wave of relief washed over me.
Hugging me tightly, my mom told me everything was going to be OK. For the first time in a long time, I actually believed that was true.
We later discovered my depression was a side effect of an asthma medication I had been taking.
All along the little monster in my brain making me sad was also helping me breathe.
I stopped the medication, and my monster disappeared. But for years I had a lingering fear that if I talked about death or depression, he would crawl out from underneath my bed and attack me again.
It’s weird to say, but I’m thankful for my panic attack. If my body hadn’t stopped me from thinking horrible things, I may have taken matters into my own hands, and I honestly don’t want to think about what I would’ve done.
I learned it’s OK to ask for help. And it’s OK to be scared. But it is not OK to live the way I did for who knows how long.
The hardest part of the whole situation was telling someone because by telling someone, I was admitting to myself that something was wrong. Throughout my depression, I refused to accept what was happening. I never wanted to admit to myself that I was sick because in my mind sickness meant weakness, and I wanted to be strong and get through it by myself.
But I couldn’t do it by myself.
I didn’t want help. But I needed it.
I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak.
But it didn’t make me weak to ask for help. It showed strength in that I was ready to conquer this monster. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.