When I read people's personal stories of their struggles with major depression, anxiety disorders, and OCD (among other things), often I find myself thinking: "I have these diagnoses, but my life isn't like this. Do I really deserve them?" But my memory is faulty, and sometimes I forget my past experiences, and what my life used to be like. Then I remember.
I remember when I was five years old and I told my parents that sometimes I felt "like I didn't want to be in the world anymore."
I remember the intrusive thoughts I had throughout most of my childhood – violent images that I couldn't dispel from my mind. I still don't like to talk about those.
I remember when I used to hate myself. Not just hate: loathe. Truly and deeply loathe myself.
I remember when I broke down in the car outside the building where I took acting classes, because the social anxiety that had begun to manifest when I grew into a teenager caused something I had been doing and enjoying for years and years – performing in front of other people – to become absolutely terrifying to me.
I remember when I spent the whole day curled up on the couch, crying until I was too dehydrated for tears – at which point my sobs became dry — and nothing my parents did could coax me away.
I remember, and then I'm thankful. I'm thankful that I have parents that recognized what was going on, and got me help. I'm thankful that there are medications to combat these illnesses, and that I've found a combination that works with my body chemistry without causing terrible side effects. And I'm thankful that I'm privileged enough to have access to them.