by Anita Lotta Hope
The following are real diary entries from a student in the school that has struggled with mental health concerns. The name has been changed to keep the student anonymous.
8/29/16 5th grade
Trying is hard and it’s not working, so why am I still trying?! A lot of stuff is not getting better! Why am I still here?! Why have I not run away already?! My parents won’t listen. They think they know what is happening. They don’t!
4/16/17 5th grade
I am fed up with feeling sick! All day, every day! It’s ruining things that I could be having more fun with!
What I really want is to feel better and be able to have more fun without constantly worrying. I feel awful because I feel like I could be doing better somehow, even though I’m pushing myself every day to go to school.
What I really want is to not feel sad and tired all the time! I want to know what else will help me.
I’m scared that this might never get better and that life isn’t worth living if I have to go through this. I’m afraid of what I can and can’t control. The unknown. The future.
What I really want is to accept things I can’t control.
I’m sorry for all the grief, pain, and worry I’ve caused everybody, including myself.
5/25/17 5th grade
I walked to Porter Park today and ran around in the sun. It felt good, and I ate a lot. Mom keeps saying I wouldn’t have been able to do that a few months ago.
8/?/17 6th grade
I’m glad I’ve been feeling so happy lately! Hopefully I can keep this good feeling with me through when school starts. I kinda feel sick when I think about it.
I can’t believe I lived my life without feeling so happy for so long.
9/23/17 6th grade
I didn’t know that lots of people have anxiety and depression, too! It’s nice to not feel alone.
9/12/18 7th grade
My 3 secrets to happiness:
1. The sad times pass. They really do. Look forward to when it happens. Because it will. I promise.
2. Trust in God. He knows what he’s doing. He has done his job to surround us with wonderful things and people. Now we have to do our job and use them.
3. Surround yourself with good people. Being around mean people is just plain depressing. Put yourself in situations where you can be happy.
10/15/18 7th grade
Who else feels like this on a regular basis? Almost no one except for me! It’s not fair! I like to be different except my stupid anxiety and depression and eating disorders and stupid stupid stupid! No one gets how hard it is not being in control of yourself day after day after day! I’m not asking to be normal, or even cured. Just better. I can’t regress back to how I was in 5th grade. I just CAN’T!
10/21/18 7th grade
I’ve felt great today. (Except for that part when I felt really dizzy because I shoved 3 starbursts into my mouth at once...)
Yesterday, I didn’t eat well, so I crashed and burned at night and felt seriously like I was going to faint.
2/27/20 8th grade
Today, I went back to school. I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow. I think this new class will be fun.
I was so panicked and sick all morning. I was going to try to convince mom to stay at the office while I went to class, but she had to go do art in my little brother’s class.
I knew deep down that I wanted to go, and so I would. But that didn’t change how scared I felt.
I was proud of myself just for getting in the car. I was sick and panicked when I walked through the front doors, yet relieved. I knew that, in a way, the worst was over: deciding I could do it.
I still felt sick but chalked it up to nerves and hunger - which was exactly what it was. I didn’t eat hardly anything for breakfast.
I’m so proud of myself. Mom was too.
Don’t get me wrong. I still feel sick - really sick. But at least I’m happy.
For now, we’ll just take it one day at a time.
5/24/20 8th grade
Why am I such a LOSER?! I don’t belong ANYWHERE! I’m not normal. I cry every day. I can’t go anywhere without my mom. I have to take medication because my brain doesn’t work like it should, and I just HATE it!
10/14/20 9th grade
10/19/20 9th grade
Today, I didn’t feel super awful in the morning before school, so I assumed it wouldn’t be too bad. But guess what? It WAS totally super bad. I felt super sick. I considered walking home in between periods. But I made it, and I just and tried to relax before piano lessons, but that made me feel even SICKER, and so I just sat there trying not to worry about the inevitable trainwreck soon to take place.
5/17/21 (almost done with) 9th grade
Looking back on this is so weird. From a kid’s point of view, anxiety and depression is a lot different then from how I look at it now. At first, I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t understand why I felt so sad and so sick all the time. I kept hoping it would go away, but it didn’t. Maybe it never will.
But that’s okay. The kinds of things I went through when I was younger make me the kind of person I am now. (I don’t exactly know what that is. But I’m getting there.)
I don’t think I’ll ever be close to “normal,” (whatever that means), but I’ve known that for a while. I was always so different. There were so many things going on in my head that other people couldn’t see. I had a panic attack because I ate three starbursts in one sitting. I wouldn’t eat anything because I was scared I would throw it up. I celebrated things like being able to run around at the park and eating a good dinner. I simply wasn’t like other kids. And that made me mad, and sad, and scared, and so many other things all at once. I wish someone had told me sooner when I was younger: it WILL be okay. I was miserable on-and-off for 7 years, and right now is the first time I’ve been able to maintain a good mental state to the point where I can stay at school and do things I love.
It seems endless, I know. The most terrifying part of it all is that you don’t know when it will end. You hear people tell their success stories, talk about “the light at the end of the tunnel,” but you feel so choked by the darkness that you can hardly breathe. You can feel so alone in a room full of people, and you’re worried it will be like this forever.
There’s no answer to how long you’ll struggle with whatever you’re dealing with. It might be 7 months. It might be 70 years. I know I’ll still be scared and sad from time to time. I have panic attacks still, but they’re getting better. I have bad days -- just look at the entries above :) I’m hopeful one month and angry the next, and depressed the next, and so on. But I’m better now than I was then.
Here’s what I’m trying to say:
Recovery is a very, very gradual thing. If you feel alone, TALK TO SOMEONE. I’ve been in counseling for over six years. And that’s okay.
I’ve had anxiety since I understood what the word “scary” meant. And that’s okay.
I had thoughts of self-harm as a fifth grader, so I had to start medication to help it get better. And that’s okay.
Maybe you’re struggling with something super confusing and frustrating and stressful and you have to take medication or go through therapy or simply take some time for yourself right now.
And that’s okay.