When I was three years old, my parents divorced. My mother, suffering from bipolar disorder and not knowing how she could raise a child on her own, attempted suicide. I have vivid memories of her return from the hospital: she was so sedated that she could not pick me up.

With the dissolution of my parents’ marriage began my own struggles with depression and anxiety. Years of vehement fighting between my mother and father ensued, and at the age of 13 I spent three months in the custody of my father before being sent back to live in a small trailer with my mother who, at the time, was too ill to provide for or take proper care of me.

We did not have much. There were a lot of men in and out of our lives, many of whom were abusive. I had missed 70 days of the 6th grade, and was only allowed to move on to the 7th grade after much protest, but I did not last long. My anxiety became all consuming, and my mother—under the pretense of homeschooling me—withdrew me from school. Of course, she never made much of an effort to educate me and I fell through the proverbial cracks, but now I have found the compassion to forgive her—she has an illness just as I do.

At the age of 17, I lived for a few months in a domestic abuse shelter in Kentucky with my mother. That came about as a result of her meeting a man online and asking me to move in with them. When we eventually returned to our hometown in Georgia, I decided that it was time for me to earn a GED, which I did with ease—despite not taking any classes.
I subsequently took the SAT and was admitted to college, but by this time my panic disorder had become so severe that I could hardly leave home at all, so I soon dropped out of college. I have since been variously diagnosed with PTSD, ADHD, OCD, major depression, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and bipolar type II. However, the two diagnoses that seem to be most prevalent among all of the doctors that I have seen are major depression and panic disorder.

I spent the majority of my twenties an utter shut in. I would only leave home, on average, once every month or so. During that time, I was alive but I was certainly not living. At 25 I decided to pull myself off of high dosages of Vyvanse and Klonopin, which sent me into a hellish, protracted withdrawal. It would take nearly three years for me to completely recover, at which point I promptly went on a drinking binge that further shocked the receptors in my brain. I thought I would surely die. However, at 28, I pulled myself through and matriculated at my local college, where I met an incredibly wonderful professor who remains my mentor.

Today, at the ripe old age of 30, I am one semester away from finishing my first degree with a 4.0 GPA; I have been awarded two scholarships; I work part time at my college as a paid intern; and though literature is my passion and I have taken several literature courses, I have decided to pursue a B.S. degree in communications, focusing on production media. I am, also, about to move into my own home for the first time in my life.

I will not say that any part of my life has been easy. I have not had many friends and I have never been in a romantic relationship, though I hold onto hope that at least the latter will change in time. I cannot lay claim to having the most difficult life, either. I have never been without clothing, shelter, or food. The abuse and neglect I have experienced and witnessed has not made me cynical—I have a lot of love to give and I still believe in the inherent goodness of people. I believe my self-directed learning and life-long love affair with reading truly saved me, and I see a bright future ahead of me. And, perhaps most importantly, I am finally on medications that work to ameliorate my depression and anxiety. I consider myself an excellent example of the fact that it is never too late to recover and pursue your dreams.

WIN_20150814_222634I am a 30-year-old college student living in Jacksonville, Florida who aspires to be a writer and filmmaker. I work as an administrative intern at my college. And I am an all around nice fella who wants to be a force for good in this world.

Christoper can be found on Twitter.

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