City: Rapid City, S.D.
What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
My depression started when I was around 12, in seventh grade or so. I was bullied every single day, and at first, I had good self-esteem, but then that started to degrade after the constant harassment. I began to truly believe that the things people said about me were true. I started having suicidal thoughts in middle school. I was eventually placed in a residential facility for the majority of my eighth-grade year and half my freshman year.
When I got out, I was traumatized, and I didn’t know how to behave around others, so I was also bullied for that. It never really stopped. Through all of high school, I was ostracized and an outcast. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, depression, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, once I turned 18. I also came out as LGBT (not specifying for my safety) when I was in the residential facility. I was met with much homophobia and transphobia upon coming out. I was an outcast at school, not just because of my mental health, but also because I didn’t fit into the box that was considered “normal.”
From fall 2019 to fall 2020, I attempted to take my life four times. The fourth time was on October 13th, 2020. I had been planning it since April. I had planned the rest of my life around that attempt, and I was sure it would succeed, so I let my grades slip and let my few friendships fail. My attempt failed, and I didn’t think I could ever recover from it. But I did. This was my junior/senior year of high school. I say junior/senior, because I graduated from high school in three years, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I graduated in the class of ’21, a year earlier than I should have, and it was a huge relief to get past the pain that was high school. I had no friends. I was entirely alone. I suffered with absolutely crippling loneliness in high school. Even at my graduation party, a few people I kinda knew and some of my teachers came for a bit.
After taking a gap year, I will be starting college, which is a completely new start, and I’m very optimistic that my life will be better, now that high school is over. I have friends who care about me now instead of being ostracized, and my general mental health is much better.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
I had a psychologist. That was really it, I’d see her once a week, but besides that, I was alone. I struggled with this myself. I didn’t really have anyone to support me. I had no friends to go to throughout my entire life, up until this point. I didn’t HAVE resources, so I’m not sure what to put for here. I didn’t have anything to help me. I just suffered through it. But no one should have to, and that needs to change.
Based on your experience, how can we work to build resilience in ourselves, our loved ones, and in our communities to better face life’s challenges?
I don’t consider myself resilient. At all. I understand why people refer to me as that, but I don’t consider myself that. I barely survived all that I went through. I don’t know how to build resilience because I don’t feel that way myself.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
People need to try and understand mental health, and in my case, being queer as well. There’s so much hate and stigma with it. People didn’t understand that I couldn’t eat certain food or wear certain clothes, or be around bright/flashing lights and loud noise, or that it was hard for me to make appropriate eye contact, or that I didn’t pick up on social cues, because I was autistic. They didn’t understand that my mood could change very quickly, or that it was easy for me to become infatuated with something or someone in an uncontrollable manner, because I’m bipolar and borderline. Everyone thought I was just weird and messed up. I wish they had understood why I was the way I was. If even a few people had attempted to understand in high school, perhaps I would not have been treated as harshly as I was.
Call or text 988.
The Lost&Found Association came to life in 2010 thanks to a team of soon-to-be college students committed to making a difference in the lives of peers struggling with depression and suicide.
Today, Lost&Found is a growing education and advocacy nonprofit that serves students on 15 college campuses, offering resilience-building programming and connecting students in need with support communities.