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Amanda’s Story

“I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my friends and family.”

Share your stigma experience.

The summer before my junior year, I transferred schools and moved in with my aunt and uncle so I would have more educational opportunities. It was a gutsy move now that I look back, but one that was needed. Although I absolutely loved it there, I missed my friends and parents terribly. I saw myself inverting, pushing the people I loved the most away. I felt detached at times, even when with my friends. I could never sleep. Most nights I would lay awake and just write, or I’d lay in my bed under piles of blankets, because the weight of the blankets was the only thing that made me feel grounded.

One day I overheard two classmates talking about cutting and how it made them feel better. That planted a seed. I thought about it a lot, but I never thought I would do it. Then one night, I broke; I had slept maybe four hours in two days and had gotten into a pointless argument with my mom. I was driven into an emotional spiral that left me numb. I felt like I was a disappointment. I cried silently in my room for hours that night and just needed to feel. So, I broke open a razor that was in my scrapbooking collection and I cut my forearm in two small places, just deep enough to see blood appear. I did feel better; the blood reminded me I was alive.

During college, I had very high highs and very low lows. Then I started to get headaches so severe that I was unable to get out of bed and function normally. After seeing numerous doctors, I was diagnosed with pituitary adenoma hyperprolactiminia – a tumor on my pituitary gland was producing more hormones than my body needed. I had 2 surgeries and was on bed rest for 3 months. It was depressing. I stared at the same three walls, day after day. What I held onto most were my own self-hating thoughts and pills. I took Xanax and Percocet to feel numb.

How did you overcome this experience?

At my lowest, I was lying thinking about all that was going on in my life: I just had brain surgery, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, and I lost my job because my medical leave was extended. I made a choice that night to not give up, to take back control of at least one aspect of my life, and to make something of myself. My entire life perspective changed that night.

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After I set to fight for my life, everything eventually turned around. I am 6 years post-op, feeling better than I have in years, just moved to Massachusetts, and am working my dream job, but I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my friends and family.

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