#7 Robert

It all started when my father died. I was six years old. Before that, I was described as a “happy go lucky” child. My dad and I were close so his death was a major blow to me. I’ve blacked out most of that year in my memory, although chunks reappear now and then.

I developed major anxiety after that. The slightest change would send me into a panic. For instance, if we had a substitute teacher, I would drive myself into such a deep panic that my mom would have to come pick me up from school. I would drive myself to vomit sometimes just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

It wasn’t just change that sent me in to panics. Tests, socialization, even random thoughts would send me into full blown crisis mode. I remember going to my mother and cousin and telling them I was worried because I didn’t have anything to worry about. That was when they realized I had a major problem.

They took me to a psych doctor when I was in the fifth grade. I don’t really remember what was said but we all discussed my anxiety. Everyone agreed that I needed put on medication. They gave me Zoloft and it worked wonders. My mom described it as a “miracle drug.” My anxiety was all but gone at that point.

Enter middle school. I was bullied from the start. My weight was teased, friends would stab me in the back, etc. I tried to fight back but nothing really worked. It got to the point where I started having thoughts about killing myself. I finally told my mom about this in eighth grade and she flipped out. She took me out of school and made me home bound the next year.

Then my mother got sick and entered a hospice. I stayed with my aunt and went back to school. I decided to be more social since I was very shy up to this point. It worked at first but I over did it. I started exhibiting stalker-type behavior without recognizing it. Around my junior year, I finally caught on and realized I was still different, an outcast. I got depressed again. This is when I started cutting.

After graduation, mother died. Add this to everything previously mentioned and I started heading in a bad direction. I was going to vocational school but didn’t do much. After a bad relationship tipped me over the edge, I decided to hospitalize myself. It was the first of several. When I was released, I made a decision to stop going to vocational school. I needed time to straighten things out.

A few years later, I decided to enter the work force. A friend of mine got me a job at a fast food joint. I was excited to finally make some money. I worked there for a day and got so overwhelmed that I couldn’t go back. The fast pace and demand was just too much for my anxiety.

I tried for years after that to get on SSI. I went to court twice. The first time, I was denied. I gave up for a while because it was disheartening. A bit later, a friend found me a good lawyer and I tried again. We went to court and I won. I finally had a steady income.

I don’t want to give off the impression that my life has been all horrible. I’ve made great friends and my mental illness has been inspiration for a few poetry collections. Though I cannot work, I still feel like I have a purpose in life. I want to help and entertain people. If I can do that, it would make all the difference.



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