At Random: Growing stronger

Column by Bretany Tourout.

Writing has been a passion of mine since the early age of nine. The number is remembered so well because it was the year 2006 when my life took a turn for the worse.

A lot of personal growth happens around the age of nine, though a lot of people don’t have any pin-points to refer to. For instance, you start to recognize what’s wrong and right; what’s acceptable and what is not.

The innocence had stopped clouding my perceptions, and I came to a realization; a close relative was sick.

Skip the abusive ugliness and five years later, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Now, a countless amount of people don’t believe in depression and even more consider anxiety a cry for attention. For those people, I say: I wish I could be so lucky to be on that side of the wall.

Anxiety makes the body want to hide, not be noticed. When my chest closes in and my breathing shortens and triggers my gag reflex, I’m not hoping for people to notice. I’m praying for the ground to swallow me up.

Depression pulls the body down; everything done in a day’s work is played out in a lag. The heavy load of numbing sadness makes me sleep harder and longer. During these times, I’m desperate to remind myself that it’s only temporary; it will get better.

Suicide is an ever-lasting topic and, for a lot of older people I’ve talked with, it seems it didn’t exist so much until the next generations turned the world “sensitive.”

Through the ages of 14 to 18, suicide was a constant option floating around me. I didn’t like how I looked, spoke, or acted. I was my worst enemy and it didn’t take me long to tear down my self-confidence. My mental health deteriorated my physical health. I went through diets that allowed 500 calories a day, which left me tired, weak, and more susceptible to my depression. My idea of healthy living went so askew, it’s something I’ll need to fight with forever.

Our upbringings carve a path for us to take, and it took me until I moved out to realize I could begin the construction of my own. It’s a long journey, one where I’m constantly fighting myself to eat enough, but not too much. One where I have to push myself to talk to people everyday and come out of my shell.

Why did I choose to go to school for journalism? It was the hardest path I could imagine that would still allow me to write for a living.

The first day of classes, my instructor had us run outside and ask randoms on the SAIT campus about what they would like to read in the paper. He asked for three people, I got two and made up my third because I got shut down by a woman on the street.

This was my true deciding moment. Would I allow my mind to call me down? To give up? Somehow, I got through it and made myself chant, “It’s not that bad.”

Today, I find myself needing a challenge to keep me out of depressive mood swings. A steady balance between that and anxiety is my personal code to success.

Now, when I get shut down or ridiculed, I feel lighter. Not only because I’m used to it, but I get to prove to myself every day that I am stronger than the last.