I am 33 and I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder
14 years ago, I turned my tassel at my high school graduation with one other fellow
senior. I was 6 months pregnant to a baby girl that I would put up for adoption. I attended
Genesis Alternative School, a school of 30 kids from 6th grade- 12th grade. Each one there for
their own special reason; expelled from school for drug possession, fighting, or constant
disrespectful behavior. Kids that heard voices and acted on them, visually saw things or had
constant fear of abuse. Everyone had their reason, and there are many more, I was there
because I struggled with depression, to the point where I was a liability to the school due to
hurting myself in between classes. Many were labeled with Behavioral Disorder, BD, I was
labeled with ED, Emotional Disorder.
During my 4 years of High School, I went to 4 different schools, my parents were
divorced, alcoholics and abusive. I started cutting myself with over 200 cuts on my legs and
arms, 3 suicide attempts and 4 hospitalizations in the adolescent psychiatric ward and once in
the S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Program, all within 3 years. Each cut had a reason, each
suicide attempt had a story. Every time I was in the psych hospital, I would meet the best
people, people that I connected with despite great differences.
During my first stay in the hospital after my first suicide attempt and several episodes of
cutting, I was scared. When they bring you in, all the doors are automatically locked behind you
as they slam shut. You are strip searched for anything that can hurt or harm you, even having
the wire from my bras removed. When brought to my room, which was shared with another girl, I
looked around. Two beds and two desks, and a bathroom with toilet paper and a shower,
nothing else. The desk had carvings and writings all over it from a pencil, the only writing utensil
we were able to use. There were drawings of objects, satanic symbols, cuss words and pure
hate. My roommate was asleep, so I tried to be quiet while I put my things in a drawer and laid
down. The sheets and blankets smelled freshly cleaned with bleach, there were bars on the one
window in the room, and I could hear the staff quietly whispering at the nurses station down the
hall. I wiped my tears, my eyes puffy from crying all day, my arms bandaged up with hospital
gauze and tape, and closed my eyes, thinking “here I am, in a psyche ward…”
I was awakened by someone screaming saying “let go of me!” My heart was racing, I
tried not to move. “The devil is here, and you will pay!” this girl yelled. Now my heart was really
racing, my hands became clammy and I sat up just a little wondering if I needed to hide in the
bathroom or something.
“It’s ok, she will quiet down in a few minutes, she does this every night.” my roommate
said to me while still half asleep and laying on her pillow. Every night? This happens every
night?! The screaming continued, as she kept yelling things about the devil coming. Then a loud
whelp, she cussed at the staff, and then all was quiet.“Oh my gosh! What happened??? Did she die?” I asked more scared than ever.
“No she didn’t die,” she laughed, “they gave her a shot of something that shuts her up
and puts her to sleep. Go back to bed.”
A shot of something?? Of what? This is crazy, then again I’m in the nut house I thought.
The next morning, the staff turned on the lights and hollard to get up in all the rooms and down
the halls. Did I just wake up from a bad dream? Nope, it was real. I walked to the meeting room
where they brought trays of “breakfast” for everyone. It consisted of a pile of goop that was
suppose to be oatmeal, a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee with 3 packets of sugar. My
roommate whispered, “ Pour the packet of sugar on the oatmeal, it will taste somewhat better.”
I looked for a spoon or fork or something. “Wheres the spoons?” I asked.
“You have to go up and ask for one.”
I pushed my chair out, and slowly got up to the nurses station. “Can I have a spoon or
“You can have a spoon, forks aren’t allowed. Heres your spoon, and initial that you
received one spoon here.”
Confused, I initial it, took my spoon sat back down. I stuck my spoon in the pile of goop,
gross, and proceed to open the sugar packet. I mix it and taste it. It wasn’t to bad, so I added
another sugar to it.
“Hey, can I have your sugar?” another person asked me
I handed him my last packet of sugar, he opened it and poured it into his coffee and
drank the entire cup like it was a beer he was chugging.
“So why you here?” he asked me. I must not of noticed, as he waved his hand in front of
my face saying, “Helllloooo, I asked why you’re here. Try to slit your wrists so you would die?”
Confused, I looked at him and said “no”.
“Then what’s with the bandages? He said stuffing his mouth with the goop.
“I cut.” I said quietly
“So you tried to kill yourself.”
“No, well yeah.”
He laughed, “no, well yeah, doesn’t tell me to much. It’s ok, you don’t have to tell me.”
“No, it’s fine. I did try to kill myself. But not by cutting my wrists, cutting is just something
“Something you do? You cut?” snickering and taking another bite of the goopy oatmeal.
“Why? What’s the point? Seems pretty stupid to me.” Some food dropped from his mouth. I
“I don’t know, it just makes things go away.” I looked at a big glob on his shirt and
smiled, “You got a little something on your shirt.”
“Eh, it will be ok, I’ll save it for later when I’m starving again. They feed you like crap
A staff member came over to me, “You better finishing eating, all of that oatmeal needs
to be gone, you’re on calorie count.” and walks away.
He laughed, “You’re on calorie count.”
“What does that mean?” I asked. “It means they are going to make sure you eat every bite, you’re required to eat some
amount of calories a day.” He looks me up and down. I cross my arms and cover myself. “Yeah,
you’re a little on the thin side.”
“Thats dumb, and I am not.” I said very firmly
He grabs his spoon and digs it into my oatmeal, the spoon snapped. “Crap!” He shoves
the heaping portion of oatmeal on the broken spoon into his mouth and goes up to the nurses
“Give us both parts of the spoon,” he does and takes a new spoon, “wait, you need to
initial here that you had a spoon, broke it and returned it and now have a new one.”
He rolled his eyes, did as he was told and sat back down.
“Really?” I looked at him and laughed.
Every morning we had group therapy. I don’t think they ever referred to it as therapy, probably would of made some people refuse to go, but we just called it “Group”. So during a morning group session, we were told to make goals for the week. Seriously, what teenager wants to set goals, everyones only goal was to get out of the hospital. Mine, not so much. I couldn’t stand my parents and what they had put me through.
“What is something that will help you?” one of the nurses said to me.
“Nothing, nothing is going to help me.” I said irritated.
“But, you need to focus on making life worth living.”
“Seriously, you go live my life, and tell me if its worth living.” I rolled my eyes and propped my chair back on two legs.
“Well, we are all glad you are here, and we want you to know that you are special.”
Joe, sitting next to me, propped his chair back as well, leaned over and said “you are so special.” in a mocking manner. Then he lost control of his chair and fell to the ground.
“Joe, I think your the special one.” I laughed and gave him my hand to help him up. He took it, got up, and immediately went to the sink to scrub his hands.
Joe sat back down, I looked at him, stilling laughing, looked at his hands, “Are they clean now?”
“The floor was dirty, I didn’t say you were dirty, it was the floor. Do you know what’s on the floor?” He mentioned with all seriousness.
The nurse looked at us both, “are you finished now?”
“Can we be?” I snipped back.
The nurse moved on to John. “John, do you mind sharing your goal for the week?”
“My goal is to ask my dad if he has ever been proud of me.”
“That’s a great goal. Will he be coming to visit you tonight?
“I doubt it, he told me on the phone that I’m a disappointment for being here.”
“John, you are not a disappointment. You are here to protect yourself and learn coping skills to help you with life. Would it help if we called your dad and asked him to come?” the nurse questioned.
“That would just make it worse, just forget it, it was a stupid goal anyways. My new goal is to not give a crap anymore and get the fuck out of here.” He got up out of his seat, pushed the chair against the wall, knocking it over, and walked away.
Jose stood up quietly saying, “I hate this fucking place.” and walked away. River and Catherine both took their chairs and pushed them up against the wall and walked away as well.
“Well if they aren’t staying, neither am I.” Kevin said to Joe and I as he left.
“Is your dad coming tonight.” the nurse asked me, “maybe a good goal for you would be to talk with your dad, in a safe environment.” I gave her the glare of death, and just walked away.
Later that evening, during visitation time, my parents came. They both seemed awkward, as they had to stand near eachother. You could just feel the hate between them. My mom came over and gave me a hug as she started to cry. I kind of just shouldered in, letting her hug me. “Mom, stop crying.” I said annoyed. We walked to a small room with 2 chairs and a love seat. I sat on the love seat, put my feet up to the side and laid back while picking at a scab on my arm.
“Why did you do this?” my mom asked
“I just felt like it.” I said, analyzing the cuts on my arm.
“Felt like killing yourself or hurting yourself?! Why?” my mom tried holding back her tears.
“Because she has no brains.” My dad shouted. Every ounce of me just wanted to stand up and punch him and say it was because of him. But I just ignored it, like I didn’t hear him say a word. I continued to pick at my scabs on my arms.
“You need to tell us what is wrong, why are you doing this to yourself?” My mom said as a few tears rolled down her cheek. I ignored again. “We can’t help you if you don’t tell us whats wrong. You need to talk to us.”
“See, no brains. Can’t even talk. This is stupid.” My dad said starting to get angry. I could feel him looking at me, and it made me sick.
“I have no brains?!” I finally snapped back. “I have no brains, but your the one drinking your beer everynight to the point where you can’t even function.”
My dad sat straighter, leaning forward. “You are a piece of work, you know that? What kind of person tries to kill themselves?” He says yelling, “What kind of person cuts themselves? I’ll tell you, a STUPID one!” I looked him dead in the eye when he said that last sentence as spit landed on my cheek. “Asshole.” I muttered as I got up and stormed out, slamming the door behind me.
“You little Bitch, I knew I should not of even come here. Waste of my time.” He yelled
My mom opened the door and tried to come after me, yelling at my dad “you’re a real son of a bitch.”
I was so angry, I couldn’t stop crying. I just went into my room, shut the bathroom door, looked at my forearm and tried digging my nails into it to make it bleed. It didn’t help. I needed to stop crying, why am I crying? I know how he is, I knew this was going to be bad. “Stop Crying!” I would tell myself. I scratched off one of the long scabs going up my arm making it bleed. Once the blood started dripping down my arm, I felt a sense of relief. It was over, I could stop crying.
I could hear my mom calling my name, I opened the door, she pushed in. “What in the world?!” shocked, she yelled down the hallway for the nurses. They came, cleaned my arm up, bandaged it, and walked to the hallway.
“We need to contact Doctor to let her know.” one nurse said to nurse Jon Boy.
He nodded, as she left to go call. He came back into my room where I was sitting on my bed still holding back my tears with my head down, and my mom sitting next to me crying.
“Why do you let him get to you?” Jon Boy asked. “You know anything he says is not positive, its not things you should be told, you know that, you have BRAINS.” He over exaggerated that word in a silly manner, making me snicker. He jumped around, flimsy and loosy saying “Maybe Dorothy will take me to OZ so I can get some brains.” I laughed, how could you not laugh at this guy acting like a scarecrow?
The other nurse came back in, “Doctor said she gets 3 Ccs.” She looked at me with a syringe in her hand.
“She is fine now, I don’t think there is a need for that.” Jon put his hand up to the nurse.
“Doctor’s orders, I’m doing what the doctor said, if you want to talk to the doctor yourself, you can go call her, but I’m doing my job.” She walked over to me and tried to grab my arm. “Relax, it won’t hurt.” I jerked my arm back and told her “no”. She grabbed me trying to get me to lay down on the bed and held my other arm against the bed. “Jon here, I got her.” she held up the shot. I was kicking and moving trying to escape, yelling for her to leave me alone.
“I told you, she is fine. She doesn’t need a shot.” Jon urged.
“Fine.” She yelled, and stuck me right in the arm. “I’ll make sure to let Doctor know you refused to give it.” She huffed and walked away.
I was crying, yet again. “I’m sorry. I tried.” Jon softly stated.
“I know, its not your fault. Thank you though.” I said between tears and laid my head on the pillow and fell asleep.
Partially through my junior year and for my entire senior year, I attended Genesis, and to
me it was absolutely the start of my new beginning.
When my 1st daughter was born, I was single and living on my own in a rough neighborhood. I knew I couldn’t provide the life she needed and deserved, So when I handed her to her
new parents, the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. It doesn’t get easier, I think it only gets harder.
For all my life, even my darkest days, I was a BibleDORK, still am. God was always there, helping
me fight the devil with his temptations. The church was my only safe place, the only place where
I could breath, feel calm, loved. I figured out on my own just what a true christian is. Not to judge, to push away, but
to embrace and lift eachother up, to love one another.
The truth; there is not enough help and support out there. People are not aware of such important signs of depressio. I’m talking first
hand, spending hours in school counselors offices, walking into school with bandages on my
arms, bruises all over me. I was that girl that started out in high school with a ton of friends, then I
became the “pill popper”, the one who got weird looks and whispers, the one that sat alone in the huge lunch room with no one at my table. I didn’t care, if no one else cared, friends, family,
school counselors, why should I? When I think back to the
conversations with my high school counselors, I was closed and shut down. My head down,
crying, digging my nails into my arm while in their office. It didn’t matter what questions they
asked, or what coping tools they would try to have me use. I used to pray for God to “use me” to make a difference. In many ways he has and he will
continue to as I know there are more ways he is going to use me. I hope that writing this may
bring a new way of thinking to some, it starts with one. I’m not trying to promote cutting or say suicide is the only choice or the
easy way out, this was written so we know what is really happening, for us to know the truth so
that WE can help others. It is so we can see the signs of depression, so we can realize how we
are treating someone, or not treating them at all. So we can help address the core issues as to
why people even think it is an option, or that cutting should be thought of. It is why there is so
much hurt and pain and drama in those years and even as adults. I choose to live not in fear,
but in faith in God above. I will “Be THE GOOD” when others are trying to “BElieve THEre is
GOOD in the world”.
If you enjoyed Nicole’s story, send a bit of encouragement in the comments section below or share this story with others.