Stigma Fighters: Alba Lanuza

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Stigma Fighters: Alba Lanuza

I have always had what I believed to be a normal life: childhood with ice-cream and delightful summers, good grades and compliments from my teachers, slightly risky teens with a few of stupid decisions (nothing too serious), confusing enter into my twenties and just as I turned 25 I started to wake up… Nothing extremely big or dramatic happened to me, therefore I don’t have a reason to believe that my problems where triggered by circumstances.
It was around my sixteen birthday when my mom decided to take me to counseling. She read something scary on my diary, apparently. I couldn’t understand the reason but I did it to content her. Then I met my first psychiatrist (after him I had four more). He was a nice man; he also said that I had a tendency to depression, nothing serious because we could keep it on check with some simple exercises. His coworker, a psychologist this time, taught me breathing patterns and other things about anxiety and self-care techniques. And life kept moving.
Due to circumstances, I ended up moving to the southern area of Spain when I was almost eighteen. I left my friends, boyfriend, life and everything else back there to travel to an almost isolated and not so developed area. We moved to a town where everybody knew I was the new girl. I remember the first day of class I got three invitations to go to the local club… and I am not exactly the kind of person who enjoys dancing and partying. Eventually I found a friend and when I started college I met some more. However, I always remember that devastating summer… Or probably I should better say that I don’t remember it because most of it has been wiped out of my mind. All that remains is the sadness. This time it was I who asked for help.
The truth is that I didn’t like my therapist. I went to a few meeting but the feeling he gave me wasn’t trustworthy. Somehow I figured my own way out, although it didn’t last long; a couple of years later came the huge fall. That was the moment when I finally realized and fully understood what depression was capable of. It really scared me.
It all started with a remarkable laziness. Then, I felt bad because I was skipping some classes and I couldn’t stop thinking about what everybody would say the next day. I lied to my family and friends, I stopped my attendance almost completely and I barely moved from my bed. I developed a quite impressive ability to lie and convinced myself that somehow, everything would be fine. However, the anxiety kept growing stronger and the finals were almost knocking at my door. One of my friends found it out a few months later and I couldn’t turn my back and deny it. I needed help. However, I managed to avoid going back to the psychiatrist using as an excuse my previous experience but at that time I had been granted with the opportunity to study abroad, so I held to that possibility and strived to make it real. Slowly, things returned to the normal course although I still had a thorn tainting everything. I felt what depression was capable of and I started to realize that it wasn’t a one-time thing. There was something, like a haunting shadow beneath all my thoughts, waiting for the right time to strike.
Arriving to America was incredible; it was a fresh and new beginning, almost like a second opportunity to prove myself worth it. And I certainly did. During the first moths I succeeded and left my fingerprint everywhere: friends, teachers, stuff… I made myself notice and standout, as I always do, because despite all the stumbles I have something unique that makes people remember me. Actually, I was so sure that that was my place that I demand to stay another six months and, despite all the troubles and inconveniences, I made it happen.
That summer I broke up with my boyfriend, all my international friends left at the same time and due to my visa status I couldn’t go back home for vacation. I literally got stuck in the country, but giving up wasn’t an option because it was my decision and my dream. And those were the consequences. Suddenly, my dream turned into a nightmare: alone, trapped and with an uncertain future ahead. Anxiety started creeping, bad decisions followed one each other and somehow I got involved into a sort-of relationship that turned out to be toxic and emotionally abusive. I ran out of that situation quickly (it lasted less than two months) and banned that person forever. However, I trusted him for a while and he betrayed that trust taking advantage of my situation. When I was able to leave, he already had triggered something on me, something really bad.
All he had left were bad memories, fears and a sharp pain on my chest that never went away (literally, it was anxiety, not a metaphor). I couldn’t sleep, I barely eat, I started having anxiety attacks and I did nothing but lying around waiting for time to pass… and eventually, when I couldn’t hold it all together anymore, I started cutting myself. By the third time I knew I was going to end up pretty bad if I didn’t stop it, so somehow I manage to gather the necessary courage for once to contact the counseling office they had on my campus. It wasn’t a life savior but it kept me on check for the next months until I could go back home.
It wasn’t all bad. With the new semester things improved but my anxiety kept playing me badly sometimes. I met wonderful people, my current boyfriend among them, and I handle the situation to survive five more months until I came back home. Once back in Spain I started medication, a mindfulness program and a few more self-care techniques. My new therapist said that I had Recurrent Depression Disorder, but that it shouldn’t define my life. And it certainly didn’t.
Today it’s been almost 11 months since I came back, a year and a half since all this started. Life looks good and I am learning how to cope with everything in a healthier way. I started my own blog, a YouTube channel, I’m finishing my degree and found my first job as a writer (my dreamed job!). Also, I will move soon with my boyfriend to the USA. I know things will get tough, as they always do, but I also know that I can handle it. Bad experiences always teach you something and after screwing almost a full year of my life and survive alone to my own thoughts, I feel like there is nothing I can’t do. Being depressed has showed me the worst I can get, know is time to discover the best. It has given me the strength to become an advocator of mental health and since then, I strive in every way I can to bring more awareness about this issue. And you can do it too.
Never let something like this take the best of you. You are not your illness; you are much more than that.

IMG_1538I am a passionate writer who decided that trekking the world was way more inspiring than being an adult and take serious responsibilities. I got frustrated and decided to broke with the system juuuust a little.

Born in Spain, commited to life and willing to prove myself better. The Awakening is my personal project where I strech and expand the limits of my creativity and seed a little about myself out there. There I wrestle everyday to build my legacy by writing articles. I also battle against depression each morning, but that is a different, quite interesting too, story.

Alba can be found on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

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By | 2015-10-28T14:24:28+00:00 October 29th, 2015|Categories: Depression, Stigma Fighters|0 Comments

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