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Like a Phoenix from the Ashes

Guest Author: Katherine

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

My story of struggle and mental health issues is nothing short of long and complex. I suppose it all began at age 9 going on 10 when my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. You know, the disease all authors give the characters they want to kill off. (I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks!)

He died when I was 12 and there is no doubt my depression, severe anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder began during the years of his treatment. At that time, I was going through my own long line of bullies and abusive friendships as well.

One of these abusers I’ll call “Jezebeth” was younger than I, yet she continually molested me during our three-year “friendship.” You know it’s awkward when looking back on your early youth, you realize that childhood molestation wasn’t the most horrifying experience. It was pushed into the background because of my grief, other abusive relationships and merciless bullies. One abusive woman, “Morgoth,” (who reminds me of the evil queen from “Snow White”) was my neighbor who first targeted 7-year-old me.

She always terrifyingly singled me out for her temper. Later, my fifth grade teacher, “Ms. Werzelya,” who reminded me of Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty,” emotionally abused me in front of other students. Both horrible women put on a holy persona and are respected in the community, despite having abused a sweet girl whose dad was dying from terminal cancer.

He destroyed every single physical characteristic and personality trait I possessed.

While I was bullied at school, my brother “Joffrey” (think: “Game of Thrones”), had been psychologically abusing my mother and I for more than a decade. Although my mother received mostly financial abuse from him for years, draining our savings, I was his main target in other forms of psychological torture. He destroyed every single physical characteristic and personality trait I possessed, which led to intense self-loathing. In high school, my mental health struggles became more pronounced because the bullying was more intense and damaging than middle school. Because of all I had gone through there, I became home schooled. If I was never taken out of that hell hole, I know I would have attempted to end my life. By this point, my depression was at its peak because my dozens of abusive friends had abandoned me, and I felt incurably unloved and unworthy.

I felt incurably unloved and unworthy.

At 16, I started taking control of my mental health by going into therapy with a lovely counselor who was very helpful. By the time I started college, I felt “cured” because my mood had improved, my anxiety wasn’t as evident, my trauma had become buried once more, and my self-esteem had increased.

In college, I had another abusive friendship in the form of a classmate, “Deumus.” Meanwhile, “Joffrey” continued spewing his poison while visiting my mother and I at our home. Also, in college a family friend died of breast cancer, and the trauma from my dad’s death came back and triggered my grief and terror.  I carried on, regardless, and continued my purpose to help as many people as possible over the course of my life; starting with finishing college and going to graduate school for clinical psychology. (From girlhood, I wanted to be a healer: someone vastly different from my abusers, who were undeniably harmers.)

After obtaining my Bachelor’s, my depression came back again because of more abandonment in the form of “Deumus” and a seemingly sweet mentor “Sekhmet.”

My inability to find a job did much to contribute to my feelings of worthlessness after graduation. I’m almost 26 as I write this and only since last year did I start taking care of my mental health again. My emotional well being has taken several blows, with more deaths, cancer scares, and continued abuse from my brother. I started therapy again and am going through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, which has been greatly beneficial.

I look for and create beauty every day.

I changed my sleep schedule (it’s amazing what sun exposure can do), stopped feeding my demons by dwelling on negativity, joined social groups, volunteered regularly, started writing and trying new artistic ventures, and began filling my life with positivity and beauty.

I’m slowly but surely recovering from my depression, anxiety and PTSD and I’ve grown so much along this dark yet meaningful journey. Most meaningfully, I have dedicated my life to helping others who are enduring pain and injustice in the world. I’m more inspired to bring light, comfort and peace to others who have been through traumas of their own. Because of my personal battles, I never take happiness for granted. I constantly strive to be the gentlest person I can be. I look for and create beauty every day. And I know for the rest of my life, I will fight like hell for my well-deserved peaceful, joyful, and beautiful existence.

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Jen
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This is incredibly moving and the emotion jumps off the page. Kudos to you, Katherine!

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