I would like to start off by saying I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness because I have never gone to seek treatment. With that being said, I strongly urge those who are in dark times to learn from my mistakes and go seek help. Background info: My story begins with bullying. I was bullied as a child and throughout middle school for being the kid that’s different. My voice was a little deeper, I didn’t like dressing in girly clothes, I played with spiderman toys and played any and every sport I could. You could say I stood out. Since I was a kid I never quite understood the social norms like everyone else seemed to. I didn’t know how I was expected to act. I still struggle with this but have gotten better at it through observation over the years. My story: Due to the constant bullying, ridicule, and constant reminders from others that my life means nothing, I struggled to cope. My depressive symptoms (like I said at the beginning- I have never been officially diagnosed but I have struggled) developed around the age of 11 or 12. I continued to act as I normally would at school and home so no one would know anything was wrong. I lived my life to fulfill what was expected of me. I was expected to be the athlete with good grades, good manners, and self-disciplined. What no one knew was what was going on inside me. I was constantly sad, lonely, tired, hopeless – even though I did not show it. My lowest point was in 2011. In the summer of 2011 I reached a point where I lost control of the thoughts running through my head. I could only insult myself, I felt nauseous at the look of my reflection in the mirror, I hated every single thing about myself, I was lethargic, lost interest in everything I used to enjoy, I only watched tv and slept all day, I ate nothing but crap because I simply could not bring myself to care. I didn’t have a strong support system in place so no one noticed the change. I was on my own. The toughest part of this time was the thoughts of suicide. I could not think of a reason why my life matters. During this time my dreams were very vivid and I cannot remember if I dreamt or lived this: I opened the kitchen drawer saw the knives, knew what I thought I was going to do, slammed it shut and sat on the kitchen floor in tears wondering why/how I got here. The one thing that kept me from going through with it was that I wanted to know how my life would turn out if I didn’t. That one shred of hope is what kept me going from day to day, I refused to let go of it. From then on it was a slow battle, with setbacks, to where I am now. When school started again I had to go back to what was expected of me, it was tough but I managed to pull it off so no one would know what is wrong. I continued to cry myself to sleep as I did any other night, but things slowly started to get better. Over the years I have made substantial improvements to how I see myself, my confidence, my self-esteem. I ate better, kept myself distracted with school and sports, and began to work out and use the endorphin high to help me get better. I began to overly rely on working out to make me feel happy which brought me to my setback in 2013. I would work out for hours a day, I did not eat enough for the amount of calories I was burning, and overall, I caused a lot more harm to my body than I helped. No matter what I did it never felt like enough. I’m now in university and have learned how to manage. I work out within reason and eat as much as I should and have actually gained a lot of weight (in a good way: I used to be 5’6″ and 120lbs and I’m now 5’7″ and a healthy 149lbs), I keep myself busy with school, work, the gym, and volunteering at my high school where I can, and this works for me. I now feel more confidant and happy than I ever have, I like the person I am and am becoming, I have a few real friends that could act as a support system when I need them, and overall I feel good. I’ve become more open about what I’ve struggled with and shared it with some people. I understand I have things I still need to work on but I’m much better than I was before. I can say I’m happy and mean it, I’m not lying to everyone around me anymore. I love myself and I will never forget that, even during dark times. I still have dark times occasionally for no reason at all but I’ve learned how to cope with it and I know the dark times pass. It true when people say it gets better. It does.