We all have scars; some are more visible than others. Mine happen to be very visible. The thing about scars is that people never know where they are from and some people will never understand, even when you do tell them.
I can remember one time when I was at the beach over spring break. I still had stitches in my forearms, and it was the first time that I didn't try to cover them up with tape and just kind of let them be.
It got to the point where, for a moment, I forgot that they were even there, and I started to play around in the sand. I got into a mini-wrestling match, and one of the stitches was ripped out of my arm. It started bleeding uncontrollably and I just tried to laugh it off and stop the bleeding.
Once it finally stopped, I stood staring at my arms, just seeing if I needed to go back to the doctor to get more stitches, or if the skin had been ripped too far. While I was staring at it, a couple of the people I was with came over and looked at them too. One of the guys finally asked me what had happened. I flat out told him, "I cut myself with a knife."
His response to me was, "Oh, were you cooking or something?" I don't know if he was stupid or it he thought I was a dumb blonde who couldn't find her way around kitchen utensils.
The thing that really shocked me was that the scars blatantly appear to not be accidents. There are six of them, two on the right and four on the left. Really, was I playing hacky-sack on my forearms in the kitchen? At that time, I was not able to understand what was going through this guy's head when he asked me that question.
But, the more that I thought about it, the more I realized this was a normal reaction. I had tried to talk about it with my parents, and they didn't really understand it. In fact, they brushed it off as me being an erratic teenager.
It wasn't until I woke up in the ICU after having my stomach pumped from an intentional overdose that I think it actually hit them that I wasn't, and never, ever could be perfect, even as much as they wanted to believe that I was.
What I have come to realize about scars, suicide, and, at the heart of it all, depression, is that even when you are honest with people about your feelings, sometimes they just can't comprehend it. Their minds try to make up every excuse in the book about it, because they just don't get what you are going through.
If they did understand it, were they at risk of having the same problems you have with depression? Maybe they just think it's easier to smile, nod and annoy you. Or, maybe, if they ignore it, you will ignore it too.
You can't ignore depression, but you also can't expect someone else to do something about it for you. I was one of the lucky ones, I was able to get past everything, past even trying to kill myself, and get medical help.
Eventually, my family was even able to almost understand. Depression is easy to recognize, but it is not always easy to do something about. This is especially true if you are afraid that it isn't normal and it is everything your parents think you shouldn't be.
But, if you just think of that moment when you hit rock bottom, take a deep breath, and think, "This really happens, what can I do to get past this moment? How do I keep breathing one minute from now, and the next minute from that?"
Before you know it, five minutes have past, and you might just feel a little bit better. Take it upon yourself to make a difference in the way you feel, because depression is normal, and it is becoming a larger influence in your lives as you get older. Don't be afraid of how you feel, and don't ignore it, you can get better if you really want to try.
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Written By: Michelle Schroeder, age 20
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013