Speak Up

I proposed a question to a few close friends before deciding how I was going to unmask my story. How would you describe Madelynn Wood?

Kallie Richards answered, “Funny, kind, extremely outgoing, and selfless.”

Bethany Booth replied, “The greatest friend anyone could ask for.”

Forrest Robbins added, “A selfless person with a warm heart.”

If I would’ve asked that question nine months ago, the responses would not be so generous. Nine months ago, Madelynn Wood was not selfless, a good friend (let alone a friend), or warm-hearted; she was everything opposite.

I did not notice when I started to lose emotion toward my favorite song. I sang along just like any other day, but I focused more on getting the lyrics right than how long I would drag out a note. I did not realize I was  prioritizing wrong. I did not see the way I started treating people.  I did not comprehend the difference between happiness and sadness. I did not listen to the ones who have always given me good advice.  I did not care. I did not feel whole. I did not smile or laugh at the same jokes I did two months ago. I did not know myself. Depression consumed me. It blinded me. Depression buried a hole six-feet-deep and dangled me above by cheap fishing wire.

I thought I was fine. I thought I was doing better than I ever had been. I thought the people around me were changing. No. I was not fine. I was not “better than ever.”  I was the one changing. Depression buried me so deep I did not want to be the person I used to be. I hated the world. I hated my family and friends. Worst of all, I hated myself, but I just did not realize it yet.

Depression took everything from me, everything I had worked so hard for and accomplished.  I’m not really the type to be upset or show any emotion other than happiness, so to others I appeared to be the same Madelynn. The depression didn’t show…yet.

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Junior year destroyed me. I put myself in situations I could never imagine being in now. I went from honor roll to not passing classes. I went from never touching drugs or alcohol to partying anytime I could. I went from caring about everyone to caring about nothing. I became a heartless, emotionless, and hurtful monster. I can’t believe the way I treated the people that mean the most to me. I was in a crisis, a never-ending  nightmare.

My mom began to see the subtle changes in my attitude and appearance. She knew something was wrong. She would constantly ask if I was okay or why I seemed different or why I was so short-tempered. I ignored it as much as possible because deep down I knew there was something going on with me that I didn’t want to face.

It hurts my heart thinking about what happened in those months of my life. Something serious could have happened to me if I didn’t finally reach out for help or if my mom didn’t confront me. At one point, I had said my goodbyes and locked myself in the bathroom.

If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be here today. I thank God every day that I have amazing friends and family that realized there was something wrong. Something they could not explain. Something so monstrous it was consuming the person I used to be.

After walking out of that bathroom, short of breath and soaking wet, I went to my mom and told her I needed help. I ended up going through therapy and taking medication which slowly brought me back to who I was. I spent months recovering. I fixed what I could. I finally felt free. That moment was something I’ll never forget because for the first time in six months, I could  finally smile with meaning again.

My intention for sharing bits and pieces of my story is to reach out to those who have locked themselves in that bathroom, who have given up. Please, speak up. You’re not alone. People understand. Don’t bottle up these emotions you feel because people truly care about you. So many people in the world suffer from this chemical imbalance of the brain. Speaking up and not giving up is what saved my life.

Madelynn is a senior at John Marshall High School. This story originally appeared on the JMHS Blog.