By DENIELLE HERNANDEZ
I was 16 when I was clinically diagnosed with depression. I never thought that a person like me who’s outgoing, an entertainer, and a people-person would experience depression. Things weren’t clear at that time, because honestly speaking, I didn’t understand anything about it. All along I thought I was just feeling sad, empty, and a burden to the people around me. I had a lot of issues growing up with my family; I always thought of myself as the least favorite. I have two older female siblings who are very successful in their own fields. In school, they compared me with my sisters who were academic achievers, and here I am only good with the extracurricular activities. My friends became my family, I’d always put them first because I thought they were the only people who understood and accepted me. I allowed myself to live with these thoughts that destroyed a big part of me. I was very tired to deal with my emotions. I was feeling hopeless, alone, and sick of myself because I always felt different from the rest.
Dying was the only option I thought I had, and every day, I’d cut my arms and cry myself to sleep. I wanted to kill myself to stop the pain — the pain that can’t be cured by any medications. This kind of pain has to be dealt with my mind, heart, and soul. I thought I had no reason to wake up every morning because I lost my old self. I lost every motivation to push harder because I had always thought that I’m not enough and don’t deserve to be on this planet. I lost my drive to live, to put it simply. I did everything to end this pain but here I am trying to make a change.
I always questioned myself, why do I have to be in this position? Why do I need to experience all the pain and struggle? Why me, of all people? I’m just a normal girl hoping to be appreciated and loved. It took me five years to answer all these questions in my mind. I had to go through all of that because, in some way, the world is preparing me for a more painful heartache and bigger challenges.
Today, I found my purpose. I’m now a full-time special education teacher, working with children with exceptional qualities gave me many reasons to live. That life may not be normal, but there is always something to look forward to. I learned from the children’s beautiful families that we may not be blessed with a complete set of abilities, but every child and every story will have its own way of inspiring people. I never really thought that life would bring me here. Now, I visit different schools and share my story to help them understand the importance of mental health and its impact today. Knowing that I get to inspire and save a life makes me feel so empowered. This is the reason why I will never get tired of improving myself because one day, I will see them doing the same thing and knowing that we all made it.
Right now, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer under medications, and I continue to help silent people to find their purpose to live. Whoever is reading this, and whatever you’re going through, here’s a piece of advice: Be more patient and learn to forgive yourself. Being in that position was out of your control, so I hope you find your way out smoothly. It may take us some time but it won’t take forever. I’m with you in your fight against depression.