My dear friend has agreed to let me share her story with you for Mental Health Awareness Month.
“I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in an area referred to as the Copper Country. I was in 6th grade when it all began. I started getting really depressed, but my dad didn’t believe me, so there I was suffering from depression and no one believed me. I was trying to do things I loved like bike riding, playing the flute in my 6th grade band, and even trying to spend time with family. This is when I really got into poetry. I would break down and cry for no reason while going out bike riding or writing. This continued into my 7th grade year when I started cheerleading and playing volleyball on top of biking just about everywhere I went and writing my poetry. I was getting worse though. I would curl up in my bed when getting home from whatever I was doing. It was then that I started wondering why I was still alive. I had plenty of friends at that time to keep me distracted and quite a bit of homework, yet I still just wanted to curl up and do nothing. When 8th grade came around I started cutting. This was the best way to numb the mental pain, by creating physical pain. In March of 2003 during my 8th grade year my aunt Lisa passed away at the age of 36. After that the cutting got worse. I started to look for ways to get connected with others who were suffering as well. That’s when I found the site “IAM4TEENS”. This is where I met Katie. She was struggling just as much as I was, so we started talking and we became good friends. Eventually “IAM4TEENS” shut down and a big group of us went to another site that we called “IAM4TEENS JR”. It was then that I started opening up about my cutting. 9th grade rolled around and I started cutting more and more. I was always wearing long sleeve shirts and hiding the fresh wounds, my family never noticed. In 10th grade I started bowling in a high school league. It became my favorite pass time, aside from biking. It was like I had a fresh start. It was a new group of people who knew nothing about me. I still continued to cut though. It was in 11th grade when things changed. I had to start thinking about what I could do to keep myself from getting worse. I joined choir in 11th grade and loved it. The concerts gave me a sense of heightened emotion, yet was still a thrill to do. I still was cutting though. In 11th grade I got my first job working at Taco Bell. I loved it at first, but kept pursuing what I really wanted to do, which we work at one of the local grocery stores. While at Taco Bell I made a few good friends. I even trusted one enough to give all my blades to him. In 12th grade I was able to get that grocery store job as a cashier and was able to quit Taco Bell. I stopped cutting and then started to really feel free, like I was actually going to make it through. In the fall of 2006 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. In September of 2007 she had a double mastectomy. It was at this time that I got to meet Katie in person.It was amazing, she kept me busy during the hours it took for the surgery. After my mom was in her permanent room for the duration that she was going to be in the hospital I spent the night with her. In the morning I was told to go back to her house and get some sleep, which I did and slept into the next day. I was with my mom for 2 weeks at that time and she never knew about the cutting. She asked about 1 of the scars on my arm that was from a really bad cut, but I lied and told her I was playing at the football field with a friend the year before and tripped and fell and cut my arm on part of the metal to the bleachers. It was then that I realized that a lot had to do with my dad and the way he treated me. I had sung “Seasons of Love” for the senior song for choir that year and just broke down after the concert because I miss my aunt so much. That year was one of the best I’d had since I started 6th grade. I joined AmeriCorps in 2007 after I got back from being with my mom. In 200 I started my first year of college. I joined a group called Campus Crusade fro Christ and met a whole bunch of people, including a girl names Kelsey. She was struggling with depression really bad at that time and cutting, so I brought her to her family to have her tell them, which she did. I moved out on my own when I turned 20 shortly after starting my first year of college. I finally felt the freedom I always wanted. I came out as being bisexual at that time in my life too. I joined a group called Keweenaw Pride, which was a group for gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transgenders. This is when I met my current partner. We hit it off the first time we every started talking. I moved in with him (He is female to male transgender) for a few months and then when he graduated from college, I took a trip down to Minnesota with him. I loved it and wanted to move down there. I came back after about a month of being in Minnesota and instantly started missing him. We talked daily and and decided that in June of 2009 I would move down to Minnesota to be with him. I’ve been with him every since. I was diagnosed in 2011 with potential bipolar due to bipolar tendencies. It started and medication and have been feeling great every since. Yes, I do still have bouts of depression, but I can handle them better than I ever could before. I’m now 27 and loving life!