*WARNING: The following post includes a dark subject matter and includes mentions of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Today I want to start a series of posts about my mental health journey. When I was at my darkest I would have loved to read about similar experiences. It would have been nice to know that I wasn't the only one who felt such deep darkness.
So I should start at the beginning. I had a relatively normal and happy life until just before my 10th birthday. In December of 2007, my world fell apart. My Aunt who was like a grandmother to me pass away, my mom made my dad move out and filed for divorce and my sister had moved out for school. I was homeschooled at the time and I was told I had to go back to real school in the fall.
Everything of normalcy had disappeared. Losing my Aunt was really hard on me. 10 years later and I'm still tearing up writing this. We went to her house every day. She never had any kids so she loved how everyone over. She was like a grandma to so many of us. I cried endlessly for days when she dies. My dad was a wreck too. Neither of us remembers a time when she wasn't in our lives.
See she was my great Aunt. She married into my dad's family. My dad grew up with as I did. Her house was a second home to both of us. When the doctors told us she was gone it was the first time I'd ever seen my dad cry. She was like a second mom to him. It was hard for him so he couldn't really talk about it.
My mom had become close to her too. She was like a second mom to her too. My mom was hysterical. My mom could talk about it either. My sister turned 19 the day after my Aunt died she was really old enough to realize that I was essentially all alone in my grief.
And that's what I was. All alone. A few days after my Aunt's service I woke up and my dad was gone. My mom left him, but he moved out. He knew my mom would take me with her so he left. He moved about 15 minutes away and came to see me when he could.
My mom had to get a job since she'd essentially kicked him out. I was alone during the day for a little while. I went to stay with my cousins some days when my mom needed help.
My mom still wasn't talking to me about losing my Aunt. I was alone for long amounts of time then I was ever used to. She never took me to talk to anyone or anything.
My life had shattered around me and I was alone in it. My mom changed when my Aunt died. She and I started to argue and it didn't feel like she put me and my sister first anymore. It felt like everything came before us.
All of these became a sea of waves crashing down on me and I didn't even know it. I had to go back to school and I was immediately a target for bullies. I've been a bit overweight since I was 4. I took cough syrup and had anaphylactic shock. The meds the doctor gave me caused problems with my metabolism that I'm still battling today.
I have bigger front teeth and didn't get my much need breaks until I was 16. My last name is Hampson so I was called Hammy, Hampter, and Hamper. They made fun of my hair my clothes, the folders I'd chosen because I liked them. I think they had Justin Bieber on them in 5th grade and Hannah Montana on them in 6th.
I was picked on for good grades, my glasses, the way I dropped my shoulders when taking a big breath while signing in the choir. I hated reading out loud. I have dyslexia and I learned to read with it but it used to be terrible for me. I would stutter and fall over my words. Kids always picked me to read aloud. I was my classes' punching bag.
I already had body issues as doctors had been trying to get me to lose weight since I was 6 so their "jokes" only made it worse. Before I went back to school I loved my glasses. Within 2 months of 5th grade, I tried contacts. After almost scratching my eye by putting a dry contact back in my eye because I was too scared to ask to go to the bathroom I gave up on them and let them tease me.
Around the time of all of this puberty started for me. No periods are hell but I'm not saying that made me more depressed. It was the urges that came with the hormones that tore me apart even more.
I grew up with some Homophobic and racist parents. My mom uses the N-word like it's nothing and my parents would let my sister date any non-white boys. Growing up my mom was also really religious. My dad is quite homophobic and makes a point to say something about any LGBT scenes on TV.
When I was a kid I watched a lot of Nick and Cartoon Network. Both of which advertised Degrassi. My mom saw a commercial for Degrassi in between episodes of Fairly Odd Parents and Danny Phantom. In it, 2 girls were kissing. She said very rudely "You're not watching that." I said it wasn't what was play but she made me change the channel.
Growing up in that atmosphere I'm sad to say I ended up every anti-LGBT until I was around 14. This was very bad for me. When puberty hit I started to have feelings for girls. I started forming crushes and hated myself for it.
I tried to convince myself it was a phase. That I only liked boys. Looking back when I was a kid my Barbies would date and I had a huge crush on Daphne from Scooby-Doo. I repressed it from the negativity I grew up hearing.
I was 10 or 11 when I started having feelings for girls. I was in a constant state of hating myself until I was 16 and accepted that I love everyone! It was the turning point for me.
But from age 11 until I was 16 I was in the darkest place a person can be. I was alone with no one to talk to. My mom wouldn't talk about my Aunt, I saw my dad once every 2 weeks for so for about 2 years because of my mom, I didn't want to talk about the bullies because I disliked all the things they pointed out, and I hated myself for thinking about girls.
I was alone in a pit of darkness with nothing but a shovel. For almost 5 years I dug deeper and deeper. I would sit alone at home and wish we had a garage so I could end it while my mom was asleep so she could stop me. I used to put red paint on my arms when I was home alone. I didn't want to cut. I didn't want more pain. I wanted it to stop. But the red paint was a symbol.
If we did have a garage I honestly don't know if I'd be here. I was in such a dark place. I had nothing to live for.
During all of this, I broke my arm at 13 and was prescribed 800MG of painkillers for the pain. I ended up addicted for over a year. I took the prescribed for the pain but when my arm was better my body faced pain elsewhere. I started taking over the counter ones. Just the recommended dose at first. Then I added a tablet 600MG then it stopped working. I ended up taking 800MG every 6 hours on the nose for the pain I didn't actually have.
Not long after that I became homeschooled again. I moved in with my dad. School bullies weren't tormenting me every day but I thought worse about myself. I eat my feelings and gained even more weight. The highest weight I know was 186LB. But there were months where I didn't get on the scale. I'm sure at one point I was gove 200.
That was the darkest point. The hurricane-force waves. I'd dug so deep into the hole that I couldn't see any light around me. And then my saving grace. In 2011 we drove to the UMPC hospital in Pittsburgh and my nephew was born. I held this beautiful 5.13LB 30-minute old baby in my arms and cried.
I felt such a strong and overwhelming love for him. A need to protect and care for him. I had something to live for. I was still in the pit but there was light. And I began the climb out and didn't even know it yet. My relationship with my mom was still rocky and I still hated myself for liking girls. I still had mostly dark days. I still had bad thoughts but they started to lessen.
I started to accept myself slowly. And the dark days came less and less. Unsurprisingly as I became less depressed the weight starting coming off a little bit. I do own part of that sudden weight loss to my celiac disease but losing that weight made me happier. It put me in a better place.
I finally accepted myself fully just about 3 years ago. Just before my 17th birthday. I've been a lot happier since then. I started on a path to love life. I finally reached the top of the pit that day. I still have days where I'm sort of void of will to do just about anything. Not out of sadness or because I'm not happy with my life.
I've never gone to a therapist, which I should probably do, so it's not an official diagnosis but I believe that I have chronic depression. My mind sort of shuts down and voids out from time to time. I'm quite happy with my life and the plans ahead.
I spend about 6 years of my life, my young life at that, hating myself and in a crippling state of depression. That will always weight on me a little. But it is also what drives me today! I've been at the lowest point in life. Crying myself to sleeping hoping not to wake up.
I've been to the darkest point humanity can experience. It drives me now. To be as happy as I can and to enjoy life. for mine is truly a gift given to me by my 6-year-old nephew. He saved me when it was too late for me to save myself. I probably would be here today if it wasn't for that little guy.
I wanted to write today to share my experience so that maybe those who are in a dark place can see that there is hope. Everything in life is temporary and there are better things just on the horizon! It is repeated by just about everyone, Life is worth living. If you are in a place so dark that endless sleep seems better, go find something worth living for.
I know it is easier said than done. That dark pit feels like the weight of the world. It seems too dark for any light. But I'll tell you this. When you make it through it feels so amazing when you finally feel the light again.
That felt so amazing to write! To finally get it out into the universe. I love writing the more personal posts like this. They flow so nicely. It comes so easily. This was defiantly something hard to write about but I'm so happy I did.
If you are in a dark place please reach out and tell someone. I know it feels impossible but it will feel so much better if you do!
I'll leave some resources below if you need someone to talk to.
US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
+44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK - local rate)
+44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Photo Credit: Photo taken by me with an iPhone 5S and edited by me in Photoshop.