**Warning: mentions of self-harm (cutting) and suicide**
When I was growing up I was the happy, quiet, smiley kid. I did well in school, followed the rules – “goody two shoes”, “jesus freak”, and “innocent” were all words too familiar to me. Looking back I think my innate need to follow rules and be in control came from how out of control home life was. So I smiled and kept quiet, making myself small because that’s how I thought the world would like me.
High school came around and shook me up. Home life destroyed, first significant loss, first heartbreak; all of these big life events with big hard emotions mixed with and magnified what was going on with my brain chemistry, which consequently made a big mess for me. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t see past the dark and why it wouldn’t leave me alone. From what I knew I was the quiet, small, smiley one, but something was happening inside of me, that was getting harder and harder to ignore. I didn’t understand what was happening and I didn’t think it was allowed to happen to a “normal” person.
Enter the cutting.
My survival mechanism.
I wrote this in high school after trying to tell my friend what was happening.
The red is a sigh of relief.
I can breathe again.
The searing pain screams you’re still here.
I can see again.
People think I’m crazy.
But don’t they know this is keeping me alive.
So I kept myself quiet and smiley out in the world and locked myself in the bathroom every afternoon to keep the buzzing as I described in this post at bay.
It wasn’t until a year later as I was sitting in my therapist’s office telling her I wanted to die, being taken to the hospital and ultimately diagnosed with dysthymia, that I thought, “Oh, this is real, other people know about this, it’s not just me.” It was validation.
I was scared, unsure, and confused more than ever before, but I was also excited. I was excited because it had a name; I could tell my friends, “Hey, I’m not just being dramatic, look – a doctor said I had this.”
I thought this dysthymia thing would mean a better life for me. I thought I would be understood. I was soooo wrong.
While I got comfort from this word, the people around me got scared. My very best friend at the time told our grade that I was “the fakest bitch because I had depression on the inside and smiled on the outside”. It inadvertently became the family secret. Someone in my own family told me that I was just making excuses for my behaviors and I “should just go and kill myself if I thought like that”.
I became even MORE confused. A doctor was telling me I had this illness, that my feelings were real, but everyone around me was still showing me that this was wrong.
Now I know this happened a few years ago when mental health was just starting to be talked about, and I am very lucky to now be surrounded by people who love and support all of me and be able to speak confidently about my mental health like on this blog. But I am sharing this today because that wasn’t always the case, and it’s not the case for so many people in our world today. The world is still telling us to stay small. If you’re reading this and some these words are resonating with you or you see similarities between your story and mine, everything you are feeling is real, and valid, and true.
That is all I wanted when I was in high school, and still now that is what I yearn for. Isn’t that true for all of us? The world is so scary, confusing, and hurtful and there is still such a stigma when we talk about mental health in all of its facets. However if you are reading this please know that it’s ok to not be quiet, and to not stay small. It’s ok to seek help, it’s ok to be excited, confused, scared, worried, hopeful, and it’s ok to have a mental illness. It is all ok.
I know that this is kind of a random post, I just wanted you to get to know me a little bit better, and be reminded of how truly great you all are.
You are loved.
You are valued.
You are important.
About Chelsea Moore
My name is Chelsea! I am in my third year of university studying Anthropology and Sociology. I started self harming when I was 15, had my first suicide attempt when I was 16, and that is when I was diagnosed with Depression. Since then my life has been about recovery, and throughout this journey writing has been my safe place. Throughout my journey I've learned that everyone has a story, and hurting together feels a lot better than hurting behind closed doors.I am passionate about bringing awareness to mental illness, and couldn't be more excited about this opportunity to write for Healthy Minds Canada!