Editor's Note: This article deals with mature topics such as drug use and depression. I strongly encourage you to speak with your parents or guardians about these issues before and after reading this article.
When I was 12 years old, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. Every member of my family was scared of losing her; saying that she was a valued member of her family. They talked non-stop about her contributions to the town; how she donated money to the nearby hospital and raised awareness about pollutants affecting the town creek. She was appreciated by everyone. I had felt under appreciated and I prayed that I would get sick. I immensely prayed that my aunt's sickness would come upon me. However, God seemed to have more important things to do, like reward my sister for her excellence.
My sister had been accepted into a prestigious University in America. She was getting top marks and she was on a successful career path. She was gorgeous, she had a steady boyfriend, she was kind and respectful. She was every family's dream daughter. When I accomplished something, my sister overshadowed me. My parents always compared my report card to my sister's A++ report card. They compared our knowledge, our skill, our personalities.
My parents are successful and highly educated so it's natural that they'd want their daughters to uphold the family reputation. Of course, my sister had made them proud. But had I? I had always tried my best. I was in the running to be valedictorian of my middle school. I won awards for having a high average in middle school. I was athletic and voted team captain of the volleyball team. I was an excellent runner and I was a veteran of the track team. I kept up this effort in high school. At school, none of my friends noticed I was depressed. I always happy, hyper and constantly smiling. I was smart and voted most helpful. I was somewhat popular, I was invited to movies, games and school events. I was doing many extracurricular activities to hide the fact that I was unhappy inside.
I tried not to eat; maybe they'd notice me if they saw a few bones protruding. But I got dizzy instantly and couldn't focus on anything. I went back to my regular eating schedule. I wanted to injure myself, I wanted to get rid of the pain and disappointment I had felt. But I refused to cut myself. I needed an outlet for my pain.
Then one day I was invited to a party that a few college students were attending. In the basement I was offered a drug . . . a white, powdery substance that they referred to as "pain sugar." The boy who offered it to me had looked so sweet and innocent an hour before, as he was dancing upstairs. I guess I wasn't the only one with secrets. He looked at me being hesitant, and offered me the zip-lock bag. "It's pain sugar . . . it relieves your pain." I just looked at the bag. I knew what would happen if I took this drug. But I needed an outlet for my pain so I opened the bag and took some in my hands. I took a nearby straw and snorted it through my nose. It had a tickling feeling as it went down my throat.
I hadn't felt the effects as soon as I had the drug. It tasted sort of . . . salty and floury. Like cake batter that my mother would let me lick off the spoons in happier times. When the effects began taking effect, my mind began racing. This happened only a few minutes later. I was hyper and laughing along with the other users in the basement. We were jumping on the furniture, walking clumsy and goofy, and doing somersaults. I hadn't felt the pain . . . I felt joy. I felt happiness, like I could fly off a building and soar above clouds. Before I left the party and my mind had calmed down, I decided to take one of the zip-lock bags.
"Pain sugar" had changed me. I was untied of what I cared about most; my grades, my parents' expectations, my future. I felt free. I would run across streets with cars speeding by. I felt so alive and I wanted to express my feelings. I would scream! I began to take this drug secretly. At first, I only took it when I was very stressed and I would take it secretly. Then I began to get addicted. I lied to my parents saying I had a job at a retail store, when really I was taking my secret friend behind the mall. My eyes became bloodshot red and I told my parents I was studying for exams and was tired.
My grades plunged when I decided to take "pain sugar" instead of going to exams and taking tests. My friends started to notice a change. They said I was too busy and different, and that I was angered easily. They said I seemed depressed and troubled, and that I hung out with the wrong crowd. But I was hanging out with the right crowd; I fit in with these people. They were like a real family. We all wanted to be free and let go of what was holding us down. My teachers kept lecturing me on how I wasn't as bright as I used to be and offered to tutor me. I promised them I'd stay after school or at lunch, but I never made it. I had better things to do; I had a life to live.
I remember one day my former best friend Shirley (who knew my locker combination) checked me for drugs. She checked my locker and my gym locker. She checked my jacket, extra clothes and shoes. She even checked my pencil case. But she didn't find anything. You see, I was much smarter than that. I would hide it old files I kept in my room. Or under my mattress. I was sneaky and sly.
One day, my freedom ended. My vice principal called our house and spoke to my parents about my absence from school. When they barged into my room, I was in the middle of the high. You cannot guess what happened next. I was being yelled at while my mind wasn't comprehending what they were saying. My eyes were closed and I was slouched on my bed. They thought I was sleeping . . . when really I was awake. I could picture them in my mind but I couldn't see them. I could feel their touch but I couldn't see their hand. I could hear their voices but I couldn't respond.
They immediately took me to the hospital and my journey of recovery began. Now I'm taking summer school and trying to earn my credits before I graduate. I'm trying to turn my failing 16% math grade back to it's former 89%. Yep. That's how low it went. I go to school and straight home, mainly because my parents drive me. I eat healthy foods at lunch. I was forced to quit many of my extra curricular activities and I became a no one. None of my old friends would talk to me. My new friends just ignored me and said I was being brainwashed by my parents. Walking down the hall, people stare and whisper vulgar things. "Crack addict" they say, or they add different words which are too brutal to expose to Whyville. Where I was once popular, I was now alone. But I had gained two new companions -- my parents. They were there. They were supportive. They were proud and they would listen. They blamed my problem upon themselves and I really didn't stop them from believing that.
Am I back on track yet? No, I'm very far from my previous golden status as a brainchild. I will never be who I once was. Taking my special drug had changed my life. It had weakened me and changed my appearance. I'm not as beautiful or as healthy as I once was. I cannot run anymore. I cannot play sports anymore. I'm as athletic as a rock. Depression isn't just an emotionally sensitive teenage girl who whines about life. Depression is real. It's like you feel life's not worth living. I don't fully believe that I can recover. But I have a goal, and that goal is to go back to being the beautiful, athletic, popular, friendly girl that I used to me. Well, look at that! I've come up with four compliments about myself. My therapist will be proud of me.
As you can tell, I'm still a little sarcastic. I think I would've died . . . it would've ended my life in a nice way. An emotionally depressed girl who secretly cried at night. She befriended drugs and they stopped her crying. Now people are trying to tie her down again and get her back to who she was. Well, if I go back to who I was, I think I'll just be ignored. Sometimes I think that if I just stopped breathing . . . would anyone miss me?