To be honest, I never thought I was going to do this. But now that I’m almost twenty I thought it was time to leave a mark on the world or at least achieve one thing on my bucketlist: changing someone’s life. I admit, I didn’t make it exactly easy for myself. The truth is that this is something that’s close to my heart and after “Rode Neuzen Dag” or “Red Nose Day” in Belgium I decided what to do. Write. This is my story and I hope you don’t take this as attention seeking, if you knew me, you’d know attention is the very last thing I want. I just want to show people that they’re not alone.
So, I’m Eden, almost 20 years old and a student in Gent, Belgium. I’ve been suffering from depression since the age of 11. Pretty young, I know. But since last year that also included anxiety and panic attacks. Guess you can say I’m a pretty worrisome girl.
Let’s get into it in more detail.
1. The beginning
You will never hear me say I had an unhappy childhood. The first five years of my life I was born and raised in the Philippines and the laid back, paradise life suited me perfectly. But once we moved to Belgium, things began to change. I still liked my life, I was happy in my new school with my new friends and new experiences, but it was harder at home. My parents fought a lot and by the time I was 7 years old they made the decision to get a divorce. Don’t worry, that’s not why it started. But what I remember the most clearly of the day we moved away is that I was sitting in the car, ready to go while my sister was still saying goodbye. I remember thinking that I ought to get out and hug my dad goodbye, but I didn’t. I remember driving away, looking at my sister crying and feeling so bad that I didn’t get out.
Flash forward, age 10. My mom was living with her new boyfriend, it wasn’t too bad but his kids didn’t get along with us what made the whole moving together thing rather hard. But that summer something else happened, I got into a car accident. While I was crossing the street, a car ran me over. I was left pretty bruised up with a broken nose and missing my front teeth. We moved away again, this time to the other side of the country. I wasn’t ashamed or anything about going to my new school in skirts and without front teeth, I even had the audacity to turn away the “cool kids” when they asked if I wanted to play with them. I was a sassy kid 😉
Now this is where it starts. One day I wasn’t feeling too well, I actually wanted to stay home but my mom wouldn’t let me. I was having stomach aches all day until I had an accident. I won’t spill the gore details. That’s when the other people in my class started bullying me. This went on for the remaining three years I stayed there. Luckily I had this awesome group of 4 friends, I owe them so much. But even they couldn’t protect me from everything. I started feeling lonely and unworthy. I remember running away, but I only got to the corner of the street before turning around.
At home things weren’t that good either. My mom couldn’t find a good guy and after a few bad relationships she started missing her ex again. I heard her cry almost every night as her bedroom was right next to mine and the walls were thin. I didn’t want to bother her with my problems so I kept my mouth shut. Feeling like an outsider from your 11th until 13 and having no one to talk to is quite heavy.
2. The middle
One day in my first year of high school my mom told me she was moving back to her previous boyfriend. I was furious. She was dragging me away again while she had promised we would stay. The kids in my class may have bullied me but that house was my first home since we moved away from my dad. I still miss the garden and the forest around the corner. But there was no stopping her and we went.
By now my dad had also remarried, it’s not that I didn’t like my stepmother, I did at that point.
Second year of high school, I’m 14 now. Another school and I decided I wouldn’t get bullied this time, so I befriended one of the tough girls. Let’s just say that she didn’t have a good influence on me and my problems with my dad started. He changed from the cool bachelor-dad to a stricter one I didn’t want. We had a lot of fights about my behavior and looking back on them, my dad was right. I was being reckless and stupid.
When the new school year came around my friend switched schools and I stayed behind with other girls who I quickly bonded with, one in particular, to this day she is still my best friend. I grew wiser and knew I had to make it right with my dad, gain his trust again. But every time I took a step forward it felt like they put me two steps back. No matter what I did, something was always wrong. It even came to the point where I didn’t want to go there anymore, begging my mom to keep me with her, stalling going downstairs for as long as I could. Every weekend something was wrong, I had done something I didn’t even knew I did. It made me so sad. I still hadn’t recovered from the bullying and I was so scared to do something wrong and lose somebody that it exhausted me. There were countless sleepless nights where I cried myself to sleep. My biggest fear to this day is disappointing my dad.
Flash forward to the summer I was 16. I had just finished my internship to become guide on camps and stuff. I felt in control of something for the first time since I was 10. Until my dad and I started fighting again and pulled me back down. That school year was the hardest I ever had. I felt so small. My boyfriend could make me feel a bit better, until I was alone again. I cried myself asleep most of the nights and did something I never thought I’d do. I started cutting myself. I had hit a new low. Everything at school was great, I got good grades, had friends and a boyfriend, but I hated going to my dad. I hardly told him anything anymore, I stayed up in my room the whole time. I started to think about suicide. I didn’t look anymore when crossing the street. I just didn’t care. WhenI looked at my balcony, I thought “What if…”. I had never been more afraid of myself and realized it had to stop. So I went into therapy by the age of 17.
Graduating high school made me think that it was all getting better. The last year I hadn’t cut anymore and had stopped therapy in September. I thought I was over it and the first couple of months I was right. Life was great. But every high has a come down. I don’t even know what happened exactly but somewhere along the way I found this veil between me and the rest. I smiled and talked but it didn’t feel like me anymore. After a few disappointing dates I got lost. There was a week in December where I literally didn’t get out of my bed. I couldn’t. I was so drained of energy of putting on a smile and keeping the nasty thoughts at bay that I collapsed. That’s when the anxiety and panic attacks started. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air and hyperventilating. I started imagining all kinds of worse case scenarios that paralyzed me on spot. First it was only occasionally but it grew worse and worse. At the end of the first year I even had a boyfriend, a great guy who was sweet and amazing, but I broke up with him because I couldn’t open up and give him my everything.
Things at my mom are getting harder too, the boyfriend is so smallminded and I constantly find my mom compromizing her own ideals and dreams so it would fit his way. He didn’t even want her to go on a vacation with us because it’s a waiste of money while they went away for three weeks to Canada with the two of them. When I look at my mom I see everything that I don’t want in a relationship, so I go the extreme other way. As soon as someone comes to close and things become serious, I run away.
My dad even moved away to Bahrain with his whole family. You might think that’s a good thing because I didn’t get along with him pretty much but it actually makes me sad. I’ve spend the last 5 years trying to prove that I’m worth of his trust and love and I don’t feel like I’ve convinced him. It’s still so hard to tell him anything. I’m terrified to skype with him because I’m scared I will have done something wrong.
This second year is even harder. I changed from college to university and moved dorm. My anxiety is growing bigger. I hardly sleep. I’m stressing out about school and I don’t really believe I’ll ever find the “one”. I’m walking on eggs with my new friends because I don’t know if they’ll stick around. I don’t even WANT to fall in love again. In my eyes opening up to someone only makes you vulnerable, some people in my past ,far and recent, have proved it multiple times. Even my mom and my best friend don’t know everything and those are the people I trust the most.
It’s still hard to get up every morning. But there are good days, there are always good days. Sometimes they’re harder to find but they’re there. It can be a moment in the sun or a honest laugh with your friends. Maybe this blog isn’t just to help others but also myself. This is how I cope, I write. For the ones who stayed with me through this long post, thank you.
So get up