When keeping secrets creates monsters

Lucy Raleigh

When I started middle school, everything was new and crazy.

I wasn’t too worried about school, after all, I had just left the fifth grade and none of my classes were difficult.

It wasn’t until the end of seventh grade that I began experiencing feelings of depression.

For some reason that I could never wrap my head around it, I had this vague feeling that I wasn’t worth something, or that I could ever be.

Of course, at thirteen, I wasn’t fully aware of what I was feeling.

Instead of talking to my parents or my friends about what I was feeling, I began reading things on the internet.

As a stubborn tween, I wasn’t into looking up ways to help me deal with what I was feeling. Instead of trying to figure out how to feel better, I decided to wallow in my sadness and bottle things up.

All of these feelings stewed over the summer, and didn’t boil over until the next year, in eighth grade.

By this point, I wasn’t satisfied with turning to the internet to deal with my feelings—or rather my depression wasn’t satisfied.

I had heard about self harm, especially cutting one’s wrists. At first, I was turned away by the idea, since I remembered some of my friends talking about how it was sad, bad, and a whole bunch of other words that didn’t seem too great to a thirteen year old.

But the more I thought about it, the more I would look toward the pair of scissors I kept on my desk in my bedroom.

Eventually, I gave in to what I refer to as the monster under my bed—the depression.

The first time I hurt myself for what I thought would be the last, was only the first taste I gave the monster under my bed.

For months (and what felt like years) I kept feeding it, moving on from scissors to razor blades, covering it up with my shirtsleeves, ashamed.

I was ashamed of what I was doing to myself and how I was hiding it from my friends and my family.

I was ashamed of the fact that I couldn’t, for some reason, say anything to anyone.

It felt as though nothing could separate me from the monster, not even an encounter with my best friend. Not even her kind, concerned words could keep me from feeding this thing.

Of course, it took a huge slap in the face to realize that what I was doing was only the beginning of a possible downward spiral into something that is still at the back of my mind today.

It wasn’t until one day, in first period, that my counselor called me down to her office.

When I heard my name, my blood ran cold and I knew instantly what was happening.

I was afraid.

I was, oddly, furious.

My mind was racing, and I remember thinking: how could I let this happen? How could I, someone who had been so careful for months not to tell a soul what I was doing, let this ugly monster rear its head to the world? Had I forgotten to wear long sleeves one day? Did I get warm and roll up my sleeves, or even be so daring to take my jacket off?

None of my questions mattered when I walked into the counselor’s office. I sat down, and she looked at me with pity, a look that I have never been fond of.

I can’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember her telling me that it was her job to tell my parents.

I broke into a cold, stinging sweat at the mere thought of sharing this secret with my parents, but it was inevitable.

She asked if I wanted to speak to my mother on the phone, and I could barely shake my head to say no.

The worst part of this, the thing that will stick with me like a stain on my heart for the rest of my life, was hearing my mother’s confusion and pain over the phone.

All I could do was sit in the chair across from the counselor’s desk and cry silently, paralyzed and listening to my mother’s heart break.

I don’t think I can ever let that moment go, and I don’t think my mother can either. I worried about the way that moment would tarnish our relationship, the way she would look at me from then on.

Of course, being my mother—and a good one at that—she didn’t see my fault in the matter, and only wanted to help me to be happy again.

Though it’s still difficult for me to tell my mother, my friends, or my teachers when I feel new baby monsters under my bed, I have a desire to now. I know I need to, and that I want to. I know that they can help me finds ways to get rid of these monsters before they grow.

Despite these attempts, some monsters stay. Some monsters stay and grow, sitting curled up under the corner of my bed. Sometimes they never come out, but being there is enough.

I always think about my depression.

Sometimes, I think about hurting myself again and I feel the skin of my wrists tingle, more times than I would like to.

One thing, one monster that is always lurking somewhere under my bed, is the thought of what it would be like to call it quits. These end-all thoughts step in to convince me that I can’t succeed, or that I am not a good or likeable person, or that I have nothing to offer anyone in this world.

In my head, I know I’m wrong. I know I have a purpose and that I have something to offer, but sometimes the things I know in my head don’t feel like enough.

With years of living with these thoughts, I have found ways to push them away, ways to stay distracted.

I am content with distractions.

I am content with the small ways they allow me to feel happy, whether the distraction lasts an hour or a year.

I am content with the way I handle things, but most of all, I am grateful for whoever tipped me off to the counselor in eighth grade.

Without that terrifying confrontation, I don’t know where I would be now.

I am grateful for that mystery person, and I am grateful for my distractions.

One of these days, I hope to be grateful for finding a way to live without distractions or monsters, but until then I just have to keep reminding myself that there are people who care about me and people who are willing to help.