Returning to the Real Me

By Evelyn Grace AbbottJuly 23, 2015

It was during my freshman year of high school when I began to seriously wonder if I was depressed. The persistent sadness wouldn’t lift with the mornings, and I went through my days in a fog. My depression had been sneaking up on me subtly, but it didn’t seem to truly hit me until I had my first panic attack. I started therapy then, but I didn’t click with the therapist; after a while I stopped being honest and open with her.

It was during my sophomore year that my depression peaked. One morning, I woke up, turned off my alarm clock, and lay there, staring at my ceiling, listening to my beating heart. I knew I had to get up…but I couldn’t seem to move.

“Evie, time to get up,” my mom said as she knocked on my door.

I still didn’t move. Ten minutes later, she came back.

“Ev, come on. Let’s go.” She sat down on the edge of my bed. But I couldn’t do it. I felt paralyzed.

“I can’t, Mom.” I didn’t look at her.

“Evelyn. Let’s go. Get up,” she said a little more sternly.

“No, Mom, I can’t.” I felt tears forming in my eyes. My mom left my room and came back with my dad.

“Evie, it’s time for school. Get up,” he said. I started crying.

“I can’t!”

My parents stood at the side of my bed. I don’t know how long this went on: them insisting that I could get up if I really wanted to, that I needed to stop crying or I was going to be late for school; me lying there, curled up in a ball, crying that I couldn’t get up and begging them not to make me. They must have given up eventually, because I woke up hours later, still in bed, the house silent.

I didn’t know how to tell my mom and dad that I needed to be comforted. I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to be held while I cried over not knowing why I was crying in the first place. I wanted them to tell me that everything was going to be OK, this thing inside of me wasn’t going to defeat me, and I would persevere. I felt my parents trusted entirely too much in the therapy they’d assumed was helping me, even though I knew I’d hit a wall with my therapist. I had fallen so low in my depression, it didn’t feel like sadness anymore; it felt like nothing, a nothing so dark it permeated every part of my life.

It was an awful feeling, trying to decide if I had the strength to get out of bed or not each morning. It felt like if I decided to try, I would fail. And if I decided to give up, I would be failing anyway. I was always behind in school, always getting grades twenty points lower than what I was capable of scoring. I believed I was losing it for real this time, and losing it so quickly and in such a big way that it was too late to stop any of it. I felt that all I could do was stay curled up in bed and hope it would all go away. I was still alive, breathing, but I was no longer a vibrant, living person. I was a shell of the person I once was, running on empty, quiet and withdrawn. Where was the real me? Would I ever come back?

My depression felt like being paralyzed on a shore, unable to move away from the black waves rushing toward me. I could only brace myself before the waves hit and knocked me off my feet. Each time I went down harder than the last, and each time my motivation to get back up sank to a lower level. Each night before going to bed I would pray to God to end my misery; every night I was convinced I could not go another day. I was locked inside myself, pounding on the walls, screaming for someone to save me.

It got to a point where I needed to be hospitalized for my own safety. Once I was released, I was paired with a different therapist and enrolled in a Dialectical Behavior Therapy group in my area. This was the turning point for me. I clicked with this therapist—she was one who I felt I could trust with the darkest parts of me. She walked beside me through the days when I wanted to give up, and she celebrated each small victory. Little by little, I improved. It took two and a half years of hard work, but I did it! I reached remission. I reached recovery. I felt like the “real me” was back, and this time to stay.

The hardest thing in the world is to want more than anything to give up—and then make the decision not to. It’s the difficult situations that build our character most and show those around us and ourselves just how strong we really are. Strong people aren’t built in one day by one situation. Strong people are made by enduring struggle after struggle and by making the choice every day to keep fighting back.

You may not be able to control the things in life that cause you pain, but there is no shame in asking for help, though it can be extremely hard to do so. Reach inside yourself and find the strength to ask for support for your journey, and then the courage to see it through until the end. Take your healing one small step at a time—even if some days it means simply standing up.


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Comments (19)

  1. John Brandon

    Now take all of that and add to it recurring every 10 years in your life and then when you are in your early 50’s take it up another level so that you have 3 complete mental breakdowns in five years now add onto that being in pain management on extremely high levels of opiod medication for over a decade, OK now take it to another level entirely: being told your chronic illnesses are both beyond treatment and will likely get worse not any better and that you will need to go on permanent physical and mental disability after a 35 year exemplary working career. Get this picture in your mind and think hard. This is me. Never be daunted.

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    1. Madeliene

      You seem like you are only focusing on the negative in your comment. You have to leave the past behind you at some point, see every negative part of your life as a separate ordeal, rather than grouping every breakdown you’ve ever had together. You have surely had even a few good days in between, focus on those.

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  2. Cassie Rossow

    Every now and then I stumble across a TWLOHA blog that I can totally relate with. However this blog has been the most true to my own struggles with depression. This is truly incredible, and amazing to know that I was not alone in my struggle to get out of bed everyday during my sophomore year. Wow.

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  3. Gayle

    Brilliant. Spot on. Except, being an adult more is expected of you in maintaining the facade and life. But you nailed it and I am as proud of you as I am of myself … Took me a little over three years. But remission and recovery … Amen.

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  4. Anon

    Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Tracy Capone

    Beautiful piece from a amazing person. ❤️

    Reply  |  
  6. Dorothy

    I am amazed how well you articulated some of the things I have felt and tried to describe to others but always failed to get across. I am glad you found a therapist who you were able to trust. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Mrs. McConochy

    Beautifully and powerfully written. So glad your voice was not lost…it needs to be heard. You need to be heard. xoxo

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  8. Natalie

    Thank you for sharing. You may have saved a life.

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    1. Fiorella

      She did.

      Reply  |  
  9. Anonymous

    I’m there right now-every day I get worse.
    This weekend is unbearable. I’m barely holding on.
    I wish there was someone who could be there in between the therapy appointments because those are the darkest hardest days.
    I hope I can be like you and reach recovery. That seems impossible right now.

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    1. Jess

      I’m so with you. I’m in this right now. I’ve hit the bottom and I’m on my way up but there are still too many days I feel like I’m completely sinking in this. We WILL get past it. We are freaking warriors, fighting every day in exhausting battles that other people can’t even see. But we’re fighting. It sometimes feels like it will never end but posts like this prove otherwise. We got this. We so got this.
      So onward we go

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  10. Matthew/ Matt

    When I was reading this, I felt like I was reading myself. And because of this, I wanna change. Although I’m a little bit scared to share my feelings with somebody. And I’m scared cuz of time of recovery.
    Anyway…. Thank U for hope. I:)

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  11. Sofie

    u go girl – u make it happen xox

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  12. Leslie

    Thanks for sharing so beautifully. I appreciate how you shared you were in remission. Is such a thing possible? But, then you went on to acknowledge the difficult times. Hardest thing in the world is to want more than anything to give up – and then choose not to…
    Doing some
    Deep breathing now, trying to make that choice
    Thanks for your words.

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  13. Raenia Phillips

    This kind of scared me a little. In 2012 I felt like “this is it, I’m done” but I’m still here and I feel bit better. But I still feel ..sometimes unloved and unworthy and if I try I will fail. But this, it shows me that it does get better if I keep trying. As long as I keep going I can make it through. Thanks for sharing, makes me feel like I’m not alone. I’m trying to be more positive because all I use to know was darkness. I’m going one day at a time. Thanks again.

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  14. Liz Schilling

    I could not have come across this at a better time. This is such an inspiration for me. Thank you a thousand times thank you for this.

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  15. Erin

    I relate to this so much. I am a sophomore in high-school and I had dealt with depression all through freshman year and told no one, not even my best friend. I had went through so many struggles and so much pain and had no idea how to deal with any of it, so i would just be constantly miserable. End of freshman year a lot of bad things happened to me, and that lead to my suicide attempt. I was hospitalized too, and also went to a Dialectical Behavior Group. Going to those groups and getting the help I needed really saved my life. I feel so much better and ME again. I have become also very strong from my “journey.” I feel like I can take anything now. I am so glad I read your story, because mine is so similar, and for the longest time I felt like no one understood me. Thank you.

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  16. Anonymous Duckling

    I relate to this so much, DBT has become an amazing lifeline and I am so grateful I learned it and met the people who taught me it ♡

    Reply  |  
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