When my father left, my mother promised to be there. But she found a boyfriend and she fell in love. That’s when she started passing me around to different people and moving me from place to place, having me eat dinner alone in my room, and sending me to respite cares—kind of like foster care—on weekends. Looking back I can see that she was dealing with her own demons.
But at the time I felt like I had no one and that I didn’t know where I stood in the world. I had no friends, and no one who seemed to like me for who I was. I was also diagnosed bipolar. I was put on so many medications as a child that my emotions went crazy. My mom wanted a perfect family, but I felt like I just wasn’t good enough, that she didn’t know how to deal with me and was embarrassed of me.
All I wanted was love and for someone to help me through it and to tell me it was okay and that they loved me no matter what. But that didn’t happen. I was so young and I didn’t understand what my diagnoses were, and the fact that my own parents couldn’t care for me like I needed made me feel like I was nothing. It all really got to me, and my problems got worse. I felt alone and unloved—and it really brought me down.
I had no self-confidence. I hated everyone. I was jealous of “perfect families.” I felt like I had no purpose.
Thankfully I didn’t stay this low forever. Finally, I realized it’s okay to have the kind of diagnoses I do and to take medication for them. I realized that everything I ever have or will experience can make me a stronger and better person, someone I never thought I’d become.
How did I come to this realization?
I’ve had a lot of counseling, including group counseling. And in those groups, I would listen to other people talking. I always thought that deep down I wasn’t good enough because of how my family treated me. But in those counseling groups, I received a lot of compliments from other people—they saw things in me that I had never seen before. Not anything hugely special, but they complimented my personality and they gave me advice and other small compliments. It seems like every time I met someone, they saw something good in me.
I also became friends with someone who went through similar struggles as me. She made me feel understood and no longer alone because she was with me. I also started dating someone special, who helped me to forget about my past and move forward and become someone great.
With my bipolar, it is hard for me to see the good things in me. It was through these people noticing the goodness in me that helped me to finally see it for myself. I realized then that it is up to me to not believe what my family told me about myself—and to accept myself.
And I have: I am now 19 years old, and graduating college in two months with two degrees. And I am very strong-headed.
So, today, I believe in love because I know firsthand how love strengthens you into a better person. It develops your confidence, and the struggles of love provide lessons from which you can learn.
But I also learned that if you don’t have love for yourself, then another person can’t love you for who you really are. Love is very powerful: it really could make or break you. I didn’t feel love before from my family, but when I found friendships and a serious boyfriend, I finally felt those connections, and I knew that love really does exist. I feel motivated and happy to be in this world. And I will never forget that to feel that love, you need to love yourself.
I can say now that I do have a purpose in life. And I can see that God allows you to go through difficult situations that can better your life in the future. So for everyone that is going through depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, anxiety, OCD, or any abuse, and you feel like you have no one and that you have no purpose in life … that’s not the case. If you focus on changing what you can—if you forgive your past and focus on the present—then life gets better, you get stronger, and you become someone great. It might be hard, but if I can do it, I know you can too.