“I think I was born depressed.” I remember saying that to a therapist of mine in my early twenties. I had a lot of therapists starting at age 18, and none of them ever stuck. I had this idea that a therapist was meant to fix you, so I gave up on them pretty quickly when I still felt empty after a session or two.
For as long as I can remember, I struggled with depression. There were feelings of sadness, sure, but more often than not I experienced chronic, pervasive feelings of emptiness. In the spaces nestled between these moments of desolation, I was wildly creative. I was incredibly passionate about so many things, and dreamed big.
When I could feel, the feelings were out of control. I would get so angry that my mind would stop working, or I would feel so sad that I couldn’t see straight. When I was happy, I felt euphoric – like I could conquer the world.
My struggles with mental health and lack of emotional regulation ran parallel to my incredibly low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, and self-hatred. I always felt different, and rather than seeing this as a beautiful thing, it made me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere.
My lack of understanding and regulating my emotions, my lack of coping skills, my low self-esteem and self-worth, and a myriad of other factors all came together and manifested as self-mutilating behaviors starting at the age of 11.
Self-harm became my way of coping, and ended around my mid-teens. During this time, I went from one destructive coping skill to another and developed a debilitating eating disorder – bulimia. This eating disorder completely took over my life for years.
During my teenage years, I also met someone who would change the trajectory of my life. We were just kids when we met, but I deeply and wholly loved him. Drugs became a part of his life when we were still in high school, and his use quickly spiraled into a decade-long battle with heroin.
It might be hard to believe, but things slowly started to change for me when I first watched The Secret at the age of 18. It planted the seed in my mind that maybe my thoughts had something to do with how I felt all the time, and the way my life was playing out.
For the first few years of my journey thereafter, I just worked on observing my thoughts and noticing patterns. I eventually taught myself how to shift these thoughts and the underlying beliefs perpetuating them, in order to change my outside world.