A 21-Year-Old’s Reflection

Since today is my twenty-first birthday, I thought it would be fitting to look back on everything that’s happened up to this point since my last birthday and figure out if where I am right now is where I actually want to be.

2013 was undoubtedly the worst year of my life; and I say that without the least bit of exaggeration. I went through a slew of severe manic and depressive episodes, dropped out of Berkeley, and was thrown in and out of psychiatric hospitals. I was rarely in the right state of mind because I was constantly dealing with anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, and mania. After I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I couldn’t bear to leave my house or speak to anyone other than my immediate family. I was way past rock bottom and just about ready to give up.

Upon adopting my dog, Riley, things suddenly looked up for me. There’s just something about a dog’s love that’s completely different than that of a human’s. It feels pure and doubtless, and maybe that’s why my spirits were lifted whenever I spent time with him. He went with me everywhere, easing my anxiety and slowly integrating me back into the real world. Riley acted like a shield between me and others but at the same time made himself an easy topic of conversation by simply being there. With my anxiety controlled, I was able to get a job so I could start saving up some money. That, of course, didn’t last too long because I had a severe anxiety attack, stopped showing up to work, and moved to L.A. So I found another excuse to shut myself out from everyone else.

I’m not going to say that I’ve completely gotten over my anxiety by now. It’s still actually pretty terrible and my psychiatrist doubled my risperdal dose a week or two ago to combat it. But the difference between then and now is that I’ve found healthier ways to deal with it not just my anxiety but my depression as well. I am proud to say that it’s been seven months since I last brought a knife to my skin. That doesn’t sound that impressive but it’s a huge accomplishment for me.

What I really wanted to focus on is how much I’ve actually changed this past year. Like I just mentioned, I still have to deal with all my mental health issues but I seldom wallow in self-pity. I no longer blame myself for my shortcomings. Sometimes I’ll lose a battle with my anorexia or my anxiety or anything else but I’ve found a way to look at the bigger picture.

I used to think that having these things over my head for the rest of my life was disheartening and unfair, but I’ve accepted it. Yes, I have trouble eating and am prone to extreme emotions but that’s not my fault. It’s really not anyone’s fault. Having these particular qualities means that from time to time I will be labeled as “different”, spoken poorly of, or possibly ostracised by others and that is demoralizing. But at the same time, I know that these are the type of people I wouldn’t want in my life anyway.

I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that these days I’m so much stronger and more confident than I have ever been. I’ve gone through so much already that I feel like I can get through just about anything else that life throws at me. As cheesy as this sounds, I have a new perspective in life and I’m finding the courage to pursue my dreams and aspirations. I’m not as terrified as I used to be to be myself.

I no longer see myself as this horrible person who deserves nothing, but rather someone who is actually pretty great and has the ability to work for what she wants.

So maybe I didn’t plan to be where I am in life right now but I think it’s safe to say that I’m okay with it.

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6 thoughts on “A 21-Year-Old’s Reflection

  1. After my dad passed, my mom suffered from depression and was admitted to a mental institute. At the time I thought, i’m fine, why aren’t you? I still feel guilty about it till this day. Thankfully she too found comfort in her two dogs. Their love is unconditional. Anyway, thank you for allowing us into your world. Hopefully it’ll give us a better understanding/perspective on mental disorders.

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