Today I am sharing an essay written by a very brave teenage girl. She has been dealt difficult situations in her young life that would bring down the strongest of adults, yet she is brave enough to share her story with us here (with her permission and the permission of her parents). Thank you, Maisen. You are wise beyond your years.
By Maisen Aromando
Every day I wore a mask. It was a mask only I knew about. People around me took the mask for my true inclination, but it was a lie. The mask helped cover my lie. And the mask looked like a smile. The smile allowed people not to ask questions. For me to continue on with my life normally, and no one to say anything about it. It made me look like I enjoyed life and felt good about myself. It made me feel confident and actually worth something because, that’s what everyone told me when I wore the smile. But sometimes even a smile fades. Slowly it dwindled down to a frown and the mask was gone. My true identity was shown and soon everyone seemed to notice. Constant questions about what the problem was because I looked upset all the time. The problem is that I didn’t even know the answer to. Something was off in my life because I never had to wear a mask before. The smile came naturally without hesitation, but now it was gone. Deep down I knew I needed help, but the more people asked me what the matter was the more I wanted to turn them away. I didn’t understand why they of all people were so concerned with my life when they had their own to worry about. They said they just loved me and that I wasn’t acting myself, but to me I was fine. I didn’t know what was happening and it was making me more irritated that I couldn’t figure it out. I realized what was going when I finally reached my limit. My head couldn’t take it anymore and my emotions started to over flow, but I continued to try and stuff it in my mental box. But in school you learn that boxes and other daily objects can only fit so much stuff in it. That’s how my mind, and everyone else’s, works. You can only keep so much to yourself before actually break the box open and everything comes spilling out like the great flood. And it’s sad to say that I reached that point. One night I felt worthless and didn’t feel like it would even matter if I left. No one would care and that maybe it would just be better. Even though I could never do anything to take my own life, I still felt like no one would care. I realized maybe I was acting different. I came to the realization that I had absolutely no desire to do anything. I didn’t care if wrestling was on, I could’ve been in bed. I didn’t care if I would get to watch a five hour documentary of Seth Rollins making me laugh, I could’ve been alone thinking. I didn’t care if fall out Boy was on TV that night, I could’ve been dreaming about things that would never happen because I felt I wasn’t good enough to make it happen. I felt like I had all of these expectations for myself that wouldn’t ever come true. My mind kept playing games with me, taunting me and making me doubt myself. “Maisen you want to be a wrestler? Huh you’re never going to do it. You aren’t athletic, you aren’t thin enough, and you have no motivation and desire. Good luck with that.” It was almost as if my mind was bullying me, as crazy as that sounds. And it was effecting me physically and mentally. I was worn down either way. This in the end was the cause for having no desire to do anything. Concerning my mental stability I was at an all-time low. If I had a meter to measure my confidence it was way beyond negative. Nothing was left in the “confidence thermometer” and my box of emotions was piling over and I couldn’t contain my emotions any more. I finally came out and told the one person that means everything to me about how I felt. And I made a promise to myself to not hurt myself because she meant way too much to me for to do something that she would feel it was her fault even though it wasn’t. She completely understood which, deep down made me angrier. Because it was weird for someone to feel this way because the way I see it, the world says you should be happy. You don’t see Disney princesses and other children’s characters going through this kind of stuff because you should always be happy. Chronic sadness wasn’t normal and if it was something you suffered from then you didn’t have a happy ending. So, when someone said that they understand why I felt this way it made no sense. But after a while I had to expect that I wasn’t the only one going through this. She also said that I should get help go talk to a therapist or physiatrist person whatever they are called. And again I was against that. I explained it was just going to be a big waste of money because they didn’t care. They nod their head and pretend they care. They know by you rambling on about whatever problem you have is more money for them to go spend it on the luxuries of life. And when you stepped out of the chair and walked out of the room, the next sob story would take their place, more money for them. The person (my mom) tried to explain it wasn’t like that and of course I being stubborn didn’t believe her. She tried so hard to get through my head that I need to talk about the way I feel. But the problem is that at that moment I felt like no one cared. I would hint at one of my best friends about my problems and she was always happy so I thought she could help me. When in reality, she was just like the therapist. She nodded her head and said I needed to smile. Yeah like it’s that easy. She hasn’t ever gone through this so she didn’t exactly understand that you can’t just put on a mask forever. And that’s kind of why I stopped talking because if she didn’t get me, I didn’t know who would. I tried to express my feelings but it was so hard because it was something I have never done. I always kept it inside my mind because I felt that it was no one’s business but my own. My mom explained I wasn’t alone and I needed to talk about it. And I’m still not good at talking so I write things like this so people can understand me. My friends often ask why I am depressed and have such bad anxiety, that I have a great life and shouldn’t be upset about anything. And I couldn’t disagree because honestly I was grateful for everything that I had and every single day I thanked God for it because I was very privileged compared to some people in the world, and I understood that. I just feel like there is a difference between sadness and chronic sadness. A scrapped knee or not getting what you want most likely falls under that category of sadness. Chronic sadness is more like depression, when you are sad but you have absolutely no clue why, which is how I felt. Anxiety on the other hand well I know the answer to that. I felt my grades were bad because know I could do better because all I did was reflect on the past. I didn’t realize my classes were harder this year and that I wasn’t going to get straight A’s all the time. So a huge part of the nightly panic attacks was school worried that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough for anyone and that I would let everyone down if I made a mistake. Forgetting to realize that no one is perfect. And school was something I never minded it was kind of just there in my life. But things like basketball that my WHOLE life revolved around became something I didn’t care about and it put too much stress on me, to the point where I wanted to quit because I thought I sucked so bad that I didn’t deserve to lace up my shoes each week and put that number on my back and play with girls who loved the game. Luckily I have AMAZING coaches and AMAZING parents who boosted my confidence to get my head back in the game, and gave me the desire to do things by being brutally honest with me. My coach doesn’t tell me I’m a good player because he knows that will make me feel better about myself. He gives me things to work on and says he has faith in me to fix them, which of course puts more pressure on me. But I usually step back and smile that someone trusts me so much. In the end it’s all about having fun and I forget that sometimes. I forget that sometimes that’s what life is all about enjoying it and helping others. I take it to serious which causes all of this. I set my expectations too high, which isn’t bad, but it’s harder when I fail. I have a bigger crash than most people which is kind of rough, but it’s a part of life. I realized that yes, I have to go to college, but technically my profession doesn’t require that. (I have to have a backup plan though) so if all fails college isn’t at the top of my priorities. As for basketball I need to have confidence because it will affect my playing and I won’t get anywhere with the bad attitude. I need to be a leader, have fun, and encourage others. I think the reason I take it so seriously is because I don’t have to worry about anything when I’m playing and people sometimes don’t understand that and just think I don’t want to be there or I’m mad at them because I don’t talk to them. I just feel that I don’t have to talk to people because it isn’t the place to talk, only because I take it so seriously. I’m working on having fun with it though J All in all I need to love life because I have people who do care. I have a mom, dad, nana, and siblings that understand where I am coming from. I have coaches who care about me outside of practice and games and want only the best for me and I’m so grateful for that. I have pastors who are willing to talk to me and make me laugh anytime I need it. I have a strong faith in God and believe that he will provide for me even though there is always going to be evil in the world and that’s apart of sin. I also have a best friend who gets me. He knows what it’s like to feel this way and keeps his phone at all hours of the night in case I have to call him for some reason or I feel bad about myself, but in reality all the people I mentioned would do that. I also have friends who have never been through this, but want to help anyway which I love it’s just hard to explain. Almost like if you don’t watch wrestling, it’s like me trying to explain the concept of the shield to you. This is the greatest team in history! Sorry a little off track, but my point is you won’t get it and you aren’t supposed to. And for anyone reading that had to go through it alone or without someone, I’m sorry. But at the end of the day it makes you even stronger. That you can look back and say you stomped out depression. And if you refuse to get help you’ll get to the point where you won’t be with us anymore. And as much as you think that someone wouldn’t care if you were gone, they would. Everyone has at least one person that cares about them; you might just not know it because not everyone is brutally honest and wears their emotions on their sleeve. Communication is the key to unlock depression. And if you read this and still don’t get what I am talking about it can be summed up in one of my favorite quotes, because it makes it easier to explain to someone who is constantly happy. “The hardest part about depression is that it is addictive. It feels uncomfortable not to be depressed. You feel guilty for being happy.” It makes me feel like I really am not alone in the world. And looking at that quote before I got help I thought that it was some suicidal “depressed their whole life kind of person”. Looking into it was said by one of my favorite celebrities Pete Wentz. Pete has everything and he still struggles just like any other human being. So now I realize I’m not alone. That some of the people I look up to as my heroes have exact same problems that I have, and they have everything. So coming to the realization I’m not alone puts me at ease, and now I know how to be myself again. I’ve learn to love life and the past well it’s the past I shouldn’t reflect on that each and every day. It causes more stress. I won’t see all of the people who bullied me in a few years, so I just need to let it go. And as weird as these sounds I have trouble expressing myself. This was written with multiple tears shed because it’s was hard for me to go back to that place of darkness because I have come so far since then. One of my favorite song lyrics is “Heroes always get remembered, but legends never die.” And if I want to be a legend then I need to love life. Because legends affect other people and their lives, so how do become a legend if all I do is curse life. I learned to be positive and love what I have and that nothing is worth stressing about. Bad things will happen, but I wouldn’t consider this a bad thing because it was just a hurdle I had to jump over. I was always good at jumping over thingsJ. But if worse comes to worse I should be glad of who I am, that I am unique. And as for my mask it is something I would gladly hang on my wall if it wasn’t some metaphorical term used in this paper. It’s something I can’t forget and that’s ok. Because since I found the key which is loving life and not stressing out, I unlocked the chain of depression. And no I’m not completely unlocked, but the chains are slowly dwindling down to a minimum and eventually I will be free. A used to be prisoner of depression, now free, and never going back to their old ways.