Happiness Is Key
By Paige Stegeman • March 30, 2014
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now. Originally, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my story but what I am sure of is that I want to help people feel how individually spectacular they are. The thing is, there’s always going to be SOMEONE who discourages you, lets you down, or tells you that you aren’t good enough. Well, I am here to tell you that you aren’t just enough you’re everything from enough to stupendous and everything in between. Somebody does love you and you will forever be his or her forever.
A year ago I was in the worse place I’ve ever been in. It started when I was at school second semester and puking became a norm for myself. It wasn’t forced I would literally wake up sometimes and just puke. What I didn’t realize was that this was the beginning of the most difficult journey I hope to ever procure. I let myself fall into the worse state of mind possible. I became very sad very quickly and I had no idea why. I had literally convinced myself that I was just stressed out and that when it became summer time I would be suddenly “cured.” I was very wrong. Summer time eventually came and things only got worse. I became incredibly forlorn. I don’t think that there was a single day in maybe six months that I did not cry. For those who know me, they know me as happy-go-lucky so this was quit a change in personality. The day I told my parents that I was unhappy, miserable, and contemplating suicidal thoughts will forever be my worse day ever. How on earth do you tell the best parents known to mankind that you’re having suicidal thoughts? The tears, heartache, and agony that went on that summer with not only best friend but also my family and myself were something I will truly never forget. I remember literally thinking to myself “how can I put my loved ones through this kind of pain?” I had convinced myself that I was not good enough and that no one loved me and the world would be better without me here. And honestly, without the love and support of my best friend Rachel and my mom, dad, and brother I’m really not sure I would be here. They saved my life in more ways than they’ll ever know. It is said that most people will experience a depressed time in there lifetime. This was definitely mine. I can’t even begin to imagine how people who don’t have the kind of support I was lucky enough to have must feel. I didn’t think anyone would ever love me because of my personal troubles. I’m going to share one of the most genuine e-mails I’ve ever received. It’s from my dad. If this doesn’t pull at your heartstrings then I don’t know what will.
It breaks my heart to hear sadness in your voice, but I know that the
tremendous strides you have made over the past six months gives me faith
that you can conquer anything. I know you are scared and that's ok, just
learn from where you have been to where you are now not to let that
overtake you and obsess over things you don't even have all the facts on.
This is just another one of the many life challenges you will face, with
others undoubtedly being more difficult and others not so much.
I just want you to know that one thing you said especially troubled me,
not because you think it but more so because of how untrue it is. I would
of married your mother irregardless of any health condition she may or may
not of had, whether we agreed on children, religion or any other obstacle
there was. I married the person, the good, bad and ugly of everything she
was and we could not have been any two different people. I didn't go
through my twenties painting myself into a corner of when I was going to
get married, and identify the exact type and look of person it would be,
it just happened. If I would have done everything in my life based on
what "my plan" was I probably would not have ever been blessed to be with
your mom and have two wonderful children. You know I am not the most
religious person in the world, but I do believe that all things happen for
a reason, either to make us stronger or to test us to see how we handle
adversity. When you do find that person, and you will, you will better
understand what I mean. You don't find the person of your dreams because
of a timetable or a biological clock, you find them because it was meant
So lets move forward and deal with the more important part of this
pre-mature scare. Lets be sure we have all the facts, lets be sure we
continue to do everything we need to do to ensure your health, and lets
keep kicking life in the ass each and every day. It is experiences in
your life exactly like this that will ultimately define you and determine
how happy and blessed you will feel about yourself. Just remember, no
matter how bad you have it, there are millions of people out there, kids
and adults, that have it worse. Continue to concentrate on the positive
things in your life and tackle the challenges only as they present an
opportunity to address them. A days worth of worrying or wondering why
does this happen to me is no more than a wasted day of your life.
I love you more than you could every know, and if I could change places
with you I would. We will get through this and all the other ups and downs
you go through in your life together, you will never be alone.
I went out for a run to clear my head with Rachel and I turned around after about a minute and I went and sat in the basement and began bawling my eyes out. My dad repeatedly asked me what was wrong and I didn’t even know where to begin. How do you answer what’s wrong when you don’t even know yourself? I have great family, wonderful friends, I’m a good student, I have an overall great life, and what do I have to be sad about? Hell, I’m attending college without any student loans, how many people are fortunate enough to say that? However, to say my life was “perfect” would be an exaggeration. There were events that lead me to this state of mind. I was living with the opposite sex who told me how ugly I was, I was almost a junior and wasn’t sure about my major still, I lost what I thought was the love of my life in a very cruel way, and I had a close friend die in a car accident. It was bad year, that was all, a bad year. There are people who are homeless, starving, and have no family and here I am sad for absolutely no reason. I expressed to my Dad that I felt depressed and was having suicidal thoughts and I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was shocking, every time anyone asked how I was I would fake a smile and tell them I was great when in reality I was literally forcing myself to get out of bed everyday. I think my parents had convinced themselves as I did that I was going to get better on my own, but that just wasn’t the case. I knew that I needed help and I knew that it was beyond their reach at this point. The night before I moved back to school I had my biggest mental break down of all. I left the dinner table, locked my door, ran to my room and never cried so hard in my life. My parents busted in screaming I can’t shut everyone out like this my mom was crying my dad was yelling, it was a terrible day. They told me I needed to make a decision I needed to decide if I was going to go back to school or staying home. They had never been in this situation either so they had no idea what was the right thing to do. The next day I chose to go to school. They drove me up we moved my stuff and I told my roommates we were going out to dinner when we really went to meet a therapist, Deanna. We all went in and my mom, dad, and myself just cried as they explained the situation. I began seeing her twice a week. I think for the first month I didn’t say a word and just cried the whole session, I felt like a lunatic. I called my parents and told them I needed to take the semester off and go to some sort of rehab center. I watched my best friend cry every single day just because I was so disconnected from life. My parents told me to give it a month. I gave it a month. I was diagnosed with high anxiety disorder and OCD. She said that what I went through in the summer was definitely a depression. She taught me techniques and gave me tools to use when my anxiety starts kicking in. Anyone who knows me probably would never guess this part about my life. It’s really hard to put into words and explain how bad I really was, but it wasn’t good. My brain was consumed with suicidal idealization and I couldn’t shake it. With therapy and support, I slowly began to find happiness again. It’s strange to look back on because that feels like it was so long ago. Today, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in a really great place and I wouldn’t change those 8 months of sorrow for anything because without it, I wouldn’t be who I am now. To say I am just all better now would be a lie. I still get anxious and I know it will be a lifelong battle but I know I won’t ever let it get to the point that it did last time and that’s what matters. No more depression, suicidal thoughts, and mental breakdowns. Things really do happen for a reason and I truly believe that with all my heart.
The reason I’m expressing this isn’t because I want your sympathy. I’ve contemplated opening up about this for a while now, and now I’m sure I want to. I know I don’t have to be open about this kind of stuff, but I want to; I want people to know they aren’t alone. I realize that this is going to come to a shock to a lot of my family and friends because not many people know about this part of my life so I encourage you to feel free to ask questions if you feel uncomfortable reading this in any way. I realized that when I began to open up to people about this that almost everyone had been through a hard time similar to mine or gone to therapy. Its kind of one of those disclosed topics that anyone is scared to really talk about or bring up. It doesn’t have to be that way though. When this was all happening I literally felt crazy. I’m not crazy, and neither are you. EVERYONE deserves to find his or her happiness in life; life is too damn short to be unhappy. However, I’m here to tell you that I’m not judging you if you are unhappy. I genuinely want you to be happy because you deserve it. If you’re unhappy please don’t keep it inside of you. Express it to someone, anyone, and get the help that you need to find your happiness because you ARE worth it. You are so worth it. I’ve always been really horrible at expressing my emotions so I know how it feels to feel insecure and vulnerable but I promise you’ll feel better in time. My hope in this is that if anyone is ever feeling anxious, depressed, or suicidal, they can know that they truly aren’t alone. People do love you, I LOVE YOU. I love every little thing about you from your imperfections to you little quarks. You’re perfect to me. Don’t listen to anyone else and don’t ever let anyone make you feel like less than you are. You’re worth so much, you’re here for a reason and people want you here. Even if you give up on yourself, I never will. Please follow your hearts because that’s really all were here to do. You’re worth love and someone will be so lucky to have you some day. Don’t ever forget--YOU ARE LOVED.
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