My high school experience was an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes, I would feel like I was on top of the world, able to accomplish anything I set my mind to. Other times, I felt hopeless and unmotivated, as if the world had it out to get me. While high school was undoubtedly the most challenging experience of my life, I believe it truly was a blessing in disguise, as my experiences helped me find my true sense of identity and discover my passion for writing.
A lot of what I dealt with in high school, such as exclusion, bullying, toxic friendships, etc., seems trivial to me now that I’ve grown and learned from my experiences. However, in the moment, it felt like there was no escape, especially since everything was amplified through social media.
During the summer before my junior year, my mental and emotional health completely plummeted. My seemingly perfect life all began to crumble before my eyes as my friends at the time showed their true colors. I’m normally a very outgoing and optimistic person, but I had lost all interest in the hobbies and activities that used to bring me joy. I had no motivation to get out of bed, I barely ate, and obsessive thoughts constantly floated through my mind. The thought of returning to school and crossing paths with the people who made my life a living hell paralyzed me with the most indescribable, crippling anxiety.
A few nights before the start of junior year, I experienced my first panic attack. It felt as though a demon possessed my body and took complete control of my emotions. Unable to catch my breath as I screamed in agony, I truly felt like there was no way out of this dark place. I ran to the trash can and uncontrollably began to vomit. It was unbelievably scary. These panic attacks became a regular occurrence for me. There were several times where I even questioned if my existence on this earth was even worth fighting for.
In August of 2016, I reached my lowest point, convinced there was no solution to help me regain my confidence and emotional stability. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and relied on heavy doses of antidepressants and weekly therapy sessions to stabilize my mental health. My obsessive thoughts would keep my mind racing at night, and my lack of sleep caused my grades to suffer. My parents had to bribe me with junk food just to regain some of the weight that my depression had caused me to lose. This truly was the most agonizing experience of my life.
Months went by as I wept through the pain, until I discovered what later would become my greatest passion in life: writing.
One of the ways I coped with my pain was through writing. Whenever I’d feel some type of way, whether that be sad, anxious, angry, stressed, or any other range of emotions, I’d open up a blank document on my Notes app and just begin to write. A lot of the time, I divulged fragmented ideas that would later evolve into coherent pieces of writing. I found this to be an extremely therapeutic exercise that helped me gather my thoughts and understand my emotions, which ultimately allowed me to control my obsessive thoughts and slow down my racing mind.
After months of using writing as a coping mechanism, paired with therapy sessions and medication, I slowly began to regain my confidence, and my mental health steadily improved. I know there’s a lot of stigma behind attending therapy, but I promise you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to therapy! It’s a great way to unburden yourself to a confidant and learn about the tools you can use for recovery.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, I encourage you to try out writing as a form of therapy. I used to hate writing, and never believed I would ever actually enjoy writing. If you try it out and realize it’s not for you, that’s okay! Find your niche. Find something that brings you joy and use it to get you through those hard times.
The challenges I faced in high school pushed me and encouraged me to become the best version of myself. Instead of continuing to let the pain define me, I changed the narrative. I took it upon myself to climb out of that deep, dark hole. If you’re going through a hard time right now, I totally understand why you may feel hopeless, desperate, and trapped. Trust me, I’ve been there. When I was at my lowest point, I wish I could hear my future self reassure me that it will get better. So here I am, telling you. I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel, you just may not see it yet. Keep fighting, girl. You got this. <3
Written by: Jordan Peterkofsky