I laid in bed for a while this morning trying to picture how “the story” would look and how it would read. So many things were running through my mind. How much should I say? Should I say it all? What is the response going to be? Why am I doing this? Isn’t this something that I should just forget about and keep on living?
I am going to tell the whole story. As much as I can say. I hope the response is a high five or a hug or maybe a “way to go!” I am doing this for me and for you. So many people suffer from mental health issues and DON’T talk about it. It is something that we should talk about and embrace. I don’t want this to come off as sounding negative, especially because I feel like I am in such a great place in life right now. This is just me, opening up about my mental health issues because I find the more I do, the better I feel. My story will be spread out into 3 different parts. Here I go…
I have suspicions that my depression began as early as 2nd grade. My family had just moved from San Francisco to Atlanta. I didn’t want anything to do with my new life. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to go swimming. I threw fit after fit and my mood was very up and down. A year and a half later, I moved to Milwaukee. I fit right into the 3rd grade. My spirits picked up and I was back to the happy-go-lucky Lee that I should be. It’s weird to think of children as having emotional states, but I sincerely remember having anxiety as an adolescent.
Me (4) and Sister (5)
Let’s fast forward to Middle School/High School. I know everyone has had their awkward moments, but this was truly a difficult time for me. I feel like I was the chosen one to get picked on, scrutinized, lied to, and made fun of. You know that one friend in the bunch who everyone secretly doesn’t like…I felt like that was me. I was clearly trying to be someone I was not and hang out with a crowd that wasn’t for me. I was mean to my parents and Sister and I…we didn’t really associate with one another. I wouldn’t consider myself depressed in high school, rather just not happy. I blamed myself for not “fitting in.” I didn’t feel good about myself. I didn’t understand why people didn’t absolutely adore me. Looking back, I see a girl who desperately wanted to be “liked.”
By Sophomore year of high school I began to focus my energy on things that made me happy: school work, student union, art, and sports. I sort of pushed those people who were not true to me to the side and spent time with the people that were true to me. I had mostly male friends with a select few girls. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it is to play varsity sports with teammates you didn’t 100% trust. I constantly felt on my guard around other females. This is so fascinating to me now, because I have found such strength and support out of the community of women that is in my life today. During high school, I felt some of the most incredible moments of camaraderie and happiness; but I never truly felt 100% comfortable or like anything would last, especially in regards to personal friendships.
Okay so those are the BAD times I had in high school. That being said, I really, really did enjoy high school and was a happy girl on the outside. I was incredibly involved with my school’s community and have some fond memories of playing sports with my teammates, constantly attending school functions, cheering at events, and coming home to a house filled with energy and lots of people. I did have some great friends (Kelsey, Amanda, Matt, Alex, Lauren, Mark, Austin, Doug, and Marla) and had a lot of good times.
I wanted to give you a little pre-college Lee. My eating disorder/depression stems from WAY down. Not just from yesterday or from last week. It was a build up of years of not truly knowing myself or feeling truly confident in who I was and wanted to be.
My depression started the summer after my freshman year. I met a guy in my dorm who I adored. We spent a lot of time together. Long story short- I found out that he actually had a girlfriend that entire time who went to a different school. Enough said? I felt so betrayed and absolutely terrible. I would never, EVER do that to someone. I became so frustrated with myself for having invested time and energy into someone who was dishonest.Following that school year, my summer was spent at home in Milwaukee I slugged around and was not motivated to do anything. I also gained a little bit of weight.
Blame. I blamed myself for a lot that summer.I became focused on going back to college my sophomore year and creating a fresh start for myself. However, my depression continued and so did my lack of love for my body. That year I lived in a house with 5 other girls. I’ve never been into partying (as you know), but they were. They were normal college girls and I was in a difficult place in my life, where normal was not an option.I had one true friend that year, Sam. She helped me love my body and myself. I relied on her for so much. She became like my sister, who was abroad in Cape Town. She loved herself and loved the world. She kept me from slumping down into a depressive state.
Sam and I at her brother’s wedding
During this time, I began understanding how much I value loyalty. I wanted to be a committed and thoughtful friend. I truly rely on having close friends who I can trust and invest time and energy into. Sam is a friend that is incredibly genuine and happy. I am so grateful to have met her and having reminded myself that having that sort of energy and grace is something worth striving for. Sadly, Sam transfered schools the next year and this is when I truly felt so alone.
to be continued…