CONTENT WARNING: This post contains descriptions of self harm, suicide, and drug abuse.
I remember being happy when I was 10. I was sitting in my mom’s car, an old white Volvo station wagon waiting in the driveway after school. I felt smart, and cute, and strong, in stark contrast to the usual self-critical anxiety that often ran through my mind, even as a kid. School had always made me so nervous. But just then, just for a few moments, I didn’t feel worried. 5th grade was going pretty well.
When I was 11, I started to flicker and fade. It felt like the change happened overnight. I would curl up in a ball in the corner of my bed, my stomach wrenching in horrible knots of anxiety and apathy and grief. I would pray that nobody would have to feel the way I felt, not even my worst enemy (who at the time was Jake Doone, because he said my mom got drunk at a party in 3rd grade and I didn’t even know what that meant and anyway he was a show off).
I hurt so much. I didn’t understand how to take care of my body. I didn’t know that I was sick with Bipolar II and a major anxiety disorder. I smelled bad and dressed weird. I cut class and failed tests. I started hanging out with the kids whose parents didn’t notice what we did, kids whose parents did drugs. All our moms did drugs. Mine drank too much, smoked weed, popped pills. Other moms snorted coke and smoked crack. We would smoke cigarettes and steal liquor and get drunk and tell our parents we were fine.
Sometimes I could barely stand up. I felt like I could hardly breathe. I would crouch and hide. And sometimes a swooping blackness would make me dizzy with fear as it swung toward me from my peripheral.