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My freshman year of high school was many things. Scary because I had transferred to a new school. Exciting because I met new people and I experienced another community. It was, however, clouded by a depression.

At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with panic disorder, following a series of events that eventually triggered the condition which runs in my family.

My psychiatrist perscribed me Prozac when I was 13. It worked for my parents, it should work for me. End of discussion. I became dull, still sad, bored with living, I was numb. It didn't occur to anyone that the meds were not working for me. 

I often forget that this is my parents first try with everything too. They've never experienced this before. How were they to know what to do?

I was put in therapy for my issues with sleeping, although that only scratched the surface with what I was dealing with. 

I brought up freshman year because that was when all of my darkness was revealed. I went off my meds and the depression made itself very clear that it was in me and wanted to destroy me. As many of my enemies do.

I would self-harm, trying to somehow relieve the pain I was feeling in my head. It really doesn't make any sense to me now. But it made sense then and it's horrifying that a brain that has an illness like anxiety or depression is so powerful, it defies most common sense. 

I stopped cutting for a couple of years, until my senior year, still unmedicated, but then I lost it. I remember screaming at my mother because I couldn't take the sadness anymore. I was absolutely stuck in my mind. I sat in my classes was holding back tears. 

My family and I agreed that I should try going on my meds again and going to therapy. I found a wonderful therapist. And I was with her in the months I had left at home before I moved to New York. She was so incredibly helpful and supportive. When I would relapse, she would never judge me or be disappointed in me, she always had a kind word to say. Now, that probably sounds like what a therapist should be and thats correct. She was my 3rd therapist and the second one who truly showed those qualities. I went to my first therapist when I was first diagnosed with P.D. and she was wonderful but she only worked with kids and I wouldn't have been able to see her as life went on and I had different issues come up. I don't remember the second one's name. 

I have tried three different medications and have settled on one that makes me feel like I did when I was a kid and didn't have all these weird/nasty/awful/mean/gloomy thoughts. 

I know some people believe that taking anti-anxiety meds or anti-depressants is just like taking SOMA from 'A Brave New World'. I won't get too preachy but that's totally and completely wrong. But that's just me (and lots of other really intelligent people.)

I make every feeling I have, evident. I speak my mind and I don't keep things bottled up anymore. That is something which lots of people are not prepared for. I guess I'm a much more advanced human.

Here's the thing. We all have to open our ears a little more. Communication between my parents sooner could have prevented a relapse, communication with my psychiatrist could have put me on new meds sooner and I would have felt happiness much quicker.

The most important conversation you have to have is with yourself. Acknowledge when you feel like something is "off". Do you feel numb? How long has this been going on? Longer than two weeks?

Then you have to tell someone. And if the person you decide to talk to dismisses it, DON'T LET THAT BE THE END OF THE CONVERSATION. Talk to your parents, best friends, a teacher, professor, counselor, your best friends mom, SOMEONE! The best type of person will listen.

That being said, BE THE TYPE OF PERSON THAT WILL ALSO LISTEN! Tell them their feelings are valid but they DON'T have to feel that way! There are options for you! A good resource for any sort of crisis or problem you're having is a place where I used to volunteer. It's called Youthline and it takes calls, texts and emails from around the world! Each volunteer has been trained to deal with crisis situations and they are happy to take any call.

In the end, we must listen. Listen to your mind and body. Listen to your friends. Listen to someone you don't really listen to. Understand. Empathize. 

"Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." -- Mr. Rogers

Be the solution. Be the helper.

Oregon Youthline Information:

PHONE: 877-968-8491

TEXT 'teen2teen' to 839863


OR You can chat online with a volunteer at OREGONYOUTHLINE.ORG