May 11, 2016

My story is a long one, stretching back all the way to sixth grade. It was a Friday night in the spring. 
Everything was the same. Except for the two nightmares I had had that night. Neither were terrible, and I didn't think much of either of them, until the following night when I was completely taken in an overwhelming fear. I remember shivering like I was having a seizure. My breath was heavy and I couldn't stand still. I kept walking around crying and not knowing what to do. It took me a couple of weeks before I realized that that was my first anxiety attack. I remember every day and every night after that, I was always in a constant state of fear. 

In seventh grade, I finally learned how to control my fear. I'm kidding. It actually just got worse. This was the year where I first almost killed myself. After fighting with my parents, I foolishly thought they didn't love me, and I was about ready to stick a knife in my chest. I don't remember what stopped me, all I know is that things got a little better after that. 

With another year, my mind got used to the fear and it became just a manageable level of stress. Of course I still had panic attacks, but overall it was pretty bearable. However, what made eighth grade the most difficult for me, was the depression that developed half way through the year. Every day felt like I was just going through the motions. Each day worse than the last. I tried to find every possible chance for even just a little bit of pleasure. I am ashamed to say that the rest of the year was full of fights, idiotic pranks and even a struggle with pornography. I became self conscious about everything, even my breathing. I was either too loud or too quiet. Everything, and I mean, everything was just a worse case scenario. Unrealistic fears and worries, imagined failure. I was willing to do almost anything to find just a little peace. That year, I yet again almost killed myself, but twice instead of just once. But that summer, my parents forced me to go to this stake youth conference event down in the desert areas of Utah. At first it was just a fierce nuisance. It wasn't until the second day, testimony meeting, that I realized something had to change in my life. I was not the person I wanted to be and from then on, I knew I wouldn't ever be the same again.

The following year of school, I did just that. I tried to focus my life on being a good person and serving others. I dealt with my stress both by exercising and playing music. I worked hard in the church and on my relationships with others, and although I still made plenty of mistakes that year, life felt like it was worth living. The year after that, 10th grade, was quite the mix. While I like to believe I had become the good person I wanted to be, life was tough. I remember almost always feeling like people were avoiding me. That I had screwed up. I kept thinking to myself in fear that I was going to die alone. Not to mention the fact that I got in a car crash with my friends and I was the only one not injured. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I spent the next two days crying and wishing I had died in that crash. That was the fourth time I attempted suicide. However, just like the others, my friends and family, even just the mere thought of them, was able to get me through it. And somehow, I made it through my sophomore year. 

Things went pretty well that summer. My sixteenth birthday, campouts, EFY, it was happy. And then this year, my junior year, began. For the first few months of the year, life was good. But one day, sometime in mid-October, everything feel apart again, and this time, even worse than before. Within the next few months alone, I had cut myself, attempted suicide five more times, and even got back into a porn addiction. I began talking to people I know I shouldn't have and doing things I knew were wrong. I broke. Everyday, every minute of my life I was terrified. My grades fell apart, my relationships were shaken. I began punching lockers and walls and pillows because there was always so much tension that I had to let it out somehow. I had no purpose, or at least that's what it felt like. And through all of this I continued to try and be kind towards others as well as selfless, but it became significantly more difficult. 

It was only last week, a Saturday, the day of this mini MTC thing in my ward, that things changed for me. I was reminded of God's love for me. Something that I had thought never existed. Something that I yelled at God for not giving me. But I was wrong. He had never left me. Knowing that changed my life. Yes, I still struggle with anxiety and depression, and sometimes it feels like I can't take it. But I know who I am. And nothing's going to stop me. Not my anxiety, not my depression. Not my OCD or ADHD. I'm here to serve and protect others. And that's what I'm going to do.

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