This I Believe

Kaelin - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on April 27, 2007

I believe in the power of inner strength, the kind of strength that comes from intense suffering, difficult situations, and experiences that make you question who you are and what you believe. I come from a single parent home and my mother has raised me all by herself without any help from my father. She has been my rock, always there for me when I needed her and putting her personal needs aside to better serve mine.

My sophomore year of high school, my mother fell ill. She went through a series of personal crises that left her physically and emotionally ill and drained. No words can accurately describe the fear that her downfall instilled in me. This strong, capable woman that I had depended on my entire life was suddenly anything but. There was no escaping her misery and it began to take a toll on me. Every day that I came home from school I was afraid that I would find her dead; a victim of her depression.

I did not know how to help her. At first, I tried to talk to her and comfort her but nothing seemed to work. Her condition started to scare me more and more and soon, I just shut down. My way of dealing with her pain and my own was to shut down, to stop feeling. I did not realize that these feelings marked the beginning of my slide into a severe clinical depression until almost a year later.

As everything was coming down around me, I looked to my boyfriend, Alex, to make me happy. I leaned on him instead of learning how to stand on my own two feet. Unfortunately, relationships don’t last and when ours ended I realized that I was now completely and utterly alone. My problems were staring me straight in the eye and I had nowhere to run to, no choice but to deal with them. Alex only added to my difficulties by saying that our relationship, and I, had meant nothing to him. This person who had made me happy for so long now hated me. My two biggest rocks, my mother and my boyfriend, were no longer there for me.

I didn’t believe that anyone could help me because I couldn’t imagine that anyone would be able to relate to the pain that I was experiencing. I thought that it was up to me to fix my own problems. No one really knew what I was going through and I was not willing to let on the source of my immense unhappiness. I would go days without saying a word to anyone and days when I could barely bring myself to get out of bed. I let my depression get out of control.

The relationship between my mom and me quickly deteriorated and I blamed her for her inability to get better and for messing up my life. To fix the problems between us would have required fixing each of our own, individual problems, something that we both were incapable of doing at the time.

During this time I learned a lot of things about myself. I realized that depending on other people to solve your problems or make you feel complete was a waste of time. I had to do it for myself if I wanted things to get better but I realized that I could not do it on my own. My mom and I started to see a psychiatrist and through joint sessions and many honest conversations our relationship improved.

It is hard to put into words the changes that occurred in me. I grew up. I was forced to face issues that I hope no one else my age ever has to go through. I became a much stronger person and I realized the immense importance of this strength. I once thought that I was brave for facing my demons on my own, but I realize that it was foolish not to accept help for so long. A strong person is able to realize that sometimes you cannot do everything on your own; sometimes you need help. Most importantly, you have to believe, with every fiber of your being, that you can overcome your obstacles. No matter what comes your way, you have to be strong. This I believe.