Ethan – A Survivor Story
Untreated Depression & Anxiety Nearly Killed Me – Here's How I Got Better
by Ethan Klee
Let me tell you a story of untreated anxiety and depression. It's a story of a little boy who so desperately craved to be normal that he ignored and hurt himself because he would rather be seen as normal.
I knew I had depression when I was 10. I remember shortly after moving to Rochester, Minnesota that I was the new kid who came from a private school; a person who people loved to hate. I was repeatedly beat up for trying to make friends, for using my imagination, for just trying to express myself as a person. I was hit so hard and so frequently I would use fake fevers to go home. But sometimes the bullies would do me a favor and punch me in the stomach so I could just tell the nurse I threw up and had to go home.
I learned how to suppress my feelings so much that I manufactured stories for myself in my mind, that I was actually not Ethan and that I was standing in for his life, and that as soon as school was over, as soon as I could get out of the building and off the bus; I could be who I really was again.
Medication and therapy were weakness. I knew I needed them, I faked results on depression screening tests—after all, I was normal. Why did I need pharmaceuticals to mask the real me?
Queue high school when I learned that I was so different from everyone—annoying, eccentric, too energetic, emotional, easy for people to make fun of and hurt. I had friends who kept me around specifically for me to be the butt of the joke, friends I tried my hardest to impress because I didn't have anyone else—even at the risk of my own emotional scarring. I learned to hate myself so completely that I wrapped around and confused it with confidence.
In college it all peaked. I tried so hard to impress the people who already cared about me, but I had learned that I was someone people hated—that was my truth in life. I was the one people would use as a punching bag my whole life, that I lost nearly everything in the course of three days, including almost my life.
And it was my fault. I had created who I was.
This was the point that I decided I needed help, ten years later. TEN! I was built up to hate myself and think that acknowledging my depression and anxiety was going to make even more people hate me.
I got help, I got better. During college I hit the reset button. I learned how to make real friends, ones that cared about me. Learned how to take care of myself mentally, learned why I had been acting the ways I was. Now I have real confidence and have found my strengths. I still harbor a lot of self resentment and hatred for who I was, and I don't think that will change.
BUT I got help.
Seeking help has helped me to become proud of who I became: the Ethan who doesn't pretend to be someone else inside his head. If you struggle with similar or other challenges in life, I hope my story can give you the slightest shred of faith that with just taking the first step of looking for help, because life can get better.
It did for me.