Looking back at these pictures taken around the age of 8 (in the left photo) and age 6 (in the right photo), that little sweet innocent girl’s life of a happy childhood would take an unexpected turn that would alter her world drastically in so many ways. At the age of 10, would come the official diagnosis: Depression. And later during college came the ugly stepsisters: Anxiety and Panic Disorder. What would I tell her if I had the chance to bump into her and spend a moment with her? She probably would say: “I don’t talk to strangers. Who are you? And why are you talking to me?” My inner child would think I was crazy if she got a glimpse of her future self. She may say: “Is this what I look like when I’m older? Man, I’m ugly or beautiful.” It would be like the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks. You wished to be a grown up and then you do, and you desperately miss being a kid again. I loved that movie since 1988. (Good, God? 30 years already????)
This sweet little innocent girl would have no idea how much this diagnosis would change everything. I mean, everything! After the age of 10, my mood and behavior spiraled dramatically. It was like someone flipping me upside down and left me dangling. No longer was I same girl anymore. She was replaced by a different girl with a different behavior (MOODY!) and a different look. I was a happy child and then became I sad (lonely) child in a cruel world. I don’t remember any other kid in school that I knew at that time that was depressed. Probably! I just didn’t socialize like I used to. I became more introverted as depression reared its ugly head on me. I isolated myself and disassociated myself from society, too. The other classmates didn’t know what was going on. My friends didn’t understand either. My teachers saw a difference in me. I didn’t. I didn’t think about anything. I abandoned close friends that I loved since kindergarten and refused to make new ones. I hate being alone and I need to be around people. But during depressive periods, I just want to be alone and that’s very unhealthy. You need people that are supporting and loving around no matter what.
When high school came, I did switch schools and that was really an eye opener. One school was diverse in so many ways. I had friends that were from all different backgrounds and races and I loved that. Then I moved and went to a predominantly, all white school. There was a few classmates of color, but mostly white. Huge culture change. Small towns are usually less diverse than big cities. In that high school, I had a little group of friends that all suffered from depression and other mental illnesses. I finally, found the right group. We were able to talk one on one about depression and we were always there when we needed each other. However, graduation came and we separated. Each one of us went to different schools and even live in different states. We said the same thing that everyone says: “We always be friends forever.” True, but it’s been 16 years since graduation and except for one friend, I have no idea where the other few are doing now.
When college came in 2004, I could’ve used my “Forever Friends” because the journey was going to get worse. It was at this time, when the ugly stepsisters made their debut in my life. I lived in denial and shut out the entire world for a long time before my breakdown. I denied (constantly) that there was a problem. It finally took a terrifying trip to the ER with a paralyzing panic attack to made me finally realized that there’s a big problem. I finally cleaned the dirty windshield and could now see 20/20. I have the Triple Threat Disease.
This little girl would probably run like hell back to mom if she took my hand and walked through this journey with me. This little girl would’ve let the demons overpower her and would’ve led to her demise. But she doesn’t. I won’t let my past, present and future self throw in the towel at all. I would tell them to put on their uniform and suit up and take it day by day. Fight the good fight, when hope feels lost. There’s always hope. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I would engrain the quotes above and below into my inner child, my current self, and my future self, too.
Life isn’t over because an obstacle comes your way. Whatever hurdles comes your way, tackle it and move on. We’re fighters and that’s our destiny. We will fight the Triple Threat Disease until it’s officially over. Don’t be afraid. This journey has been scary (Oh YES!), but also incredible because so many things have happened. I graduated from high school, and college with a degree in Small Business, extensively managed and spent over 16 years in retail, have a great job with great benefits, just a got a raise a while back, I do have a car, a house, and two noisy Chihuahuas. However, marriage and children are something more in the future than in this moment. It will happen. Why run away from your life? Look at everything that has happened! We did it while fighting with the Triple Threat Disease. We did it.
Life isn’t always roses and diamonds. Life can be frustrating, cruel and hard. You’re going to see a lot of great things and bad things. You get to experience so much in your lifetime and will always, if you stay strong and think positive. No one is going to live your life for you, you live your own life and make it what you want of it. Always remember that you’re amazing everyday even when you’re not feeling it all. Why would you want to trade places with anyone else???