Many people know that at the age of 10, I moved from Papua, Indonesia, which had been my home of 4 years, to Barranquilla, Colombia. My family made this move because our home in Tembagapura had become unsafe. The natives were rebelling against the indonesian settlers that owned the mine our town was built around. They had begun shooting at busses that were leaving the mountain, and one of our family friends had been killed. I was optimistic for this move, for I had always loved change, and travel had always been a part of my life. Flying over was fun because at the time we could afford to fly business class, and flew on a very glamorous airline. The company my dad worked for was very upper class, so they insisted upon a private school by the name of Parrish. At first things were going pretty good, girls there wanted to spend time with me. And I made one or two friends. There was an obvious cultural difference, and I had never been ‘girly’ as the other girls were. And I was introverted, happy to spend my time alone, the Colombian culture was very social. However, despite these differences, I got on pretty well with these girls. I’m not really sure what happened. I credit it back to one moment, when i asked my closest friend at the time to come over to my house. She declined. It was pretty much a downward spiral after that. It suddenly became weird to know me. It was a very cliquey school you see, social status was very important. And I had somehow been blacklisted. I was deemed different, and weird, and that was wrong. Students visibly dispersed when I came near, and were visibly uncomfortable when I tried to talk to them. Looking around as though someone might see them talking to me and shun them for it.
I was bullied in a way that damaged me to this day. Though they did not mock me to my face, or physically harm me. They did something perhaps even more damaging. They alienated me. Although being avoided sounds like every introvert’s dream, It does something to you when everyone in our school actively avoids you. It puts a wall between you and them, and you start to notice all the differences between you and them. It is very lonely to be the only one on one side of a wall. But once you notice the wall, you can’t ignore it, you start to define yourself by it. I felt so different from everyone else around me, so strange and out of place. They used to stand around me and ask me questions. Stupid repetitive questions about what I thought I was doing, and about my appearance. They treated me like a living exhibit, something to gawk at. And that’s exactly how I felt, like a living doll for their entertainment. Something less than human. To this day I am still getting used to the idea that the people around me don’t see me as different to them.That they aren’t afraid to associate with me, that they don’t find it strange and uncomfortable when I try to talk to them.
It was this feeling that led way to my depression. There is no other way to put in. I was failing everything in school. I didn’t want to do anything. I never felt happy, and I never felt like anything mattered. Well, nothing but my reading. And that was my escape. I couldn’t feel the pain of being alone when I had my nose buried in a book. Because then I wasn’t alone. If it was up to me I would have read all day. I read instead of sleeping, I read instead of doing my homework, I read instead of paying attention in class, I read during lunch and break. Which is a big part of why I was failing at school. My teacher once lent me a book to read. It was around 250 pages or so. I had finished it by the next day. She was amazing, but, she didn’t realise that I didn’t want to put the book down, because once I did, I had to face reality. And all the thoughts that went with it. Those thoughts scared me so much. The scariest thing about them was that they didn’t scare me. I rationalised it in my mind, glorified it. I spent so much time on the roof of our house, looking over the edge, wondering what it would be like to jump. Wondering what the point of me going on was. If it would hurt when I hit the ground. In the end the only reason I didn’t jump is because the only thing stronger than fear is hope. And I hoped. Hoped that things would get better, that I would move, that my life would play out like a story in one of my books. And I clung to that. In the end I think that’s the only reason I am here today. Because as stupid as it sounds, I still believed in happily ever after. And when everything seemed hopeless, I thought, if I just make it through today, I’ll be ok. And when one day became too much, I just thought, I’ll just make it through this hour, and when one hour became too much, I thought, I’ll just make it through this minute.
During this time my parents were in a bad place. My dad flew out on monday, to work, and flew back on friday. And when he was home, they were constantly fighting. And I guess that is one of the reasons that my mum didn’t notice what I was going through. Which, I can’t tell you how alone that made me feel. She just thought that I wasn’t making an effort to make friends. And so she was constantly trying to get me to talk to these girls. Which was hard for me cause I really did not want to talk to, anyone really. But she just saw it as me being antisocial and rude. She used to scrutinise me for not making an effort to talk to them. Which hurt, because it was just another reminder that she didn’t understand. And to me, it felt like she didn’t care.
What you have to understand is that the number one symptom of depression is anger. And my biggest regret is I took a lot of that anger out on my little sister, Tia. And at the time, it seemed rational to me, I just thought she pissed my off. And I wasn’t until I tried to explain to someone else why I was angry, did my reasoning sound ridiculous to me. Then I had to ask myself, why was I so angry? Because I really didn’t know. And I wish, with all my heart. That I understood how I was feeling, so I didn’t take it out on her. And I wish I could explain to her, that that wasn’t me, and that I love her, and I never meant to hurt her. But even If i could explain it to her, and even if she could understand it. She wouldn’t remember anyway. That’s probably the worst part, because I can’t apologise for something she doesn’t remember, and I can’t forget what I did to her.
I have written a few poems about how it felt to be trapped like that, I will always use metaphors to describe how it was for me, because I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s surreal, the feeling of your life not mattering to you. And I guess that helped me, but no one payed much attention to what I was writing. I presented such a poem to one of my favorite teachers, and he read every word. I talked about how I didn’t feel anything, and nothing seemed to affect me, and how alone I felt. And all he said was. Good metaphor. Which was easier, because if they understood, they would have asked about it. And I really didn’t want to talk about it. It’s strange how when you are depressed, you feel the need to make excuses for your actions. Trying to hide your depression my blaming external factors. I will always remember when, after I presented my first poem like this to my class, a girl in my class asked me what I was about. And I said “It’s about my life. Mostly outside of school” And as soon as I said it, I wondered why I felt the need to hide how bad I felt in school. This was one of the girls that had shunned me, and I was almost defending her. Why did I have to reassure her that I was happy in school. When I so obviously wasn’t. LIke I needed to prove to the world that I was fine. If I had the chance to go back to my school now, I would love to tell those girls how they made me feel. So, why at the time, did I feel the need to hide my pain? I might never know the answer.
Another vivid memory i have is of the day my mum saw my report card. We were walking out of school, and she had just received it from the front desk. She was yelling and ranting at me because I was failing maths. She was trying to make me understand the gravity and consequences of my actions. Telling me my punishment for abysmal grades, and telling/asking me what I was going to do to fix it. But I could barely hear her. I had no interest in what she was saying. Her words washed over me like water over a rock. It just did not matter to me. My responses were a series of grunts that made it seem like I was somewhat involved in this one sided conversation. But nothing could have been farther from the truth. I’m pretty sure I was in the middle of a book at the time, and that’s all I cared about.
That’s my story. And I hate when people glorify depression and suicide. There is nothing beautiful about it. The love stories about a kind man with a heart of gold that ‘heals’ the scars of depression from his lover’s mind with nothing but love and kisses sicken me. The is nothing romantic about trying to reach out to someone who is pushing you away because, they don’t know any better. Someone who hasn’t so much as showred for you In days. And no amount of kisses will make the pain go away. Flowers do not grow out of scars. And all though the things I wrote were beautiful, they are about something very ugly. So please, when you think of depression, stop picturing a beautiful young girl sitting alone in the corner with mascara running down her face. Because that’s not what it looks like, it is dark, and scary, and lonely. And people living with depression need real help. Not just to be told that they are overreacting, or they just need to cheer up, and, make an effort, and that if they just stopped only looking at the negatives in life, than their mood would improve, and they would feel better. Because, to someone living with depression, it doesn’t feel like that, and it doesn’t feel like it will ever get better.