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I've never been officially diagnosed with anything. Let me just put it out there, right now. Yes, I have depression. Yes, I have anxiety problems, but I will not go for the official diagnosis. It's too permanent, it makes it real.
I was always the quiet child, the one hiding something. I have so many memories from my childhood, and to tell you the truth, most of them are memories of crying alone in my room, sitting under the table at family gatherings so I didn't have to see anyone, and pain. I have always frightened my family with these tendencies, so for a very long time, I hid them away, pretending that there was nothing wrong with me. I did not let anything make me  happy, nor did I let it show when I was depressed.
I started to cut myself when I was 12. It started as a suicide attempt on my dad's birthday (bad idea). I was home alone. I found a sharp knife, a mock Civil War knife that I've always admired for its beauty. I set it next to my wrist. I took a deep breath. And picked it up. And put it down. I realized I didn't leave a note. With shaky hands, I walked into my bedroom and found my favorite pen and a piece of my prettiest stationary. I wrote the note. Basically it said, "I'm sorry". To this day, I have no idea where that note is. Because as soon as I wrote it, the phone rang. Wanting to maximize my time, I went to answer, because it was most likely my parents saying they'd be late. The voice of my friend on the other line was a warning bell in my head. She said "hey, I know we haven't talked in a while....I just want you to know that even though we're both busy, and growing apart, you're still one of my closest friends." I thanked her and started to cry. As soon as I hung up the phone, I put away the knife and the note.
I tried to push that aside. But it didn't work. The urge to  hurt myself was too strong. As the only one "outside the mold" in my family, I clearly didn't fit in. And I had no other escape. I didn't want to hurt anyone else. So I started cutting, using my fingernails, so it wouldn't go deep, on my  hips. For years, it was very concealed. I could wear bikinis and not have it show. But I started to get a little more out of control when I was 15. Some of the cuts were visible with my bikini, so I started to wear shorts to the beach and the pool. No big deal. Every once in a while, I'd slip up and make a cut in a place where people could see. At the moment, I only have six of those. Two are very faded.
But the depression was still there. Even injury that I could control didn't help it. I was nearly 16, and knew I needed something more than what I had. Out of the blue one day, I picked up the phone and called a woman I know who is a clinical psychologist. I said "look, I need help." Together, we formed a plan on how to tell my parents. She called to tell them that "all artsy teens should be in therapy". And they hated me for it. They couldn't accept it.
I went to one therapist. I didn't open my mouth once. Not even to say my name. Decided, screw's a waste of my time. But I had one more name. I was not feeling optimistic as I went to her office. She greeted me at the door with open arms and tears in her eyes. I felt safe.
I told her right off that I refused medications and that I would not resort to that in order to help myself. She understood. So I settle for alternative meds and talk therapy.
I have been in therapy for over a year now. It's weird to think how far I've come. Sometimes progress wears a wonderful disguise.
I was starting to get the depression and anxiety under control, when disaster struck again. Earlier this year, two of my close friends committed suicide. It left me devastated.
About three months later, I knew I needed to get myself together. I needed to find something that would take off that edge for me. Something that would make me not feel so alone. And here I am.
I'm 17 now. Hardly, but I am. It's been six months since the suicides. It's been a month since I've cut, a week since my last panic attack.
For most people, it would be hell, living like this. For me, it's bliss. I am safe, for once in my life. And that makes all the difference.
I still avoid the labels. I figure, I'm a cookie cutter model for something, I don't need to flaunt it.  Only accept it. And work to fight it.

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Revised: 04/02/05.

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