This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks.

mental breakdown

*Trigger warnings: depression, emotional rape, and suicide.

I’ve been dealing with depression for about eight years. Sometimes it’s kind of meh and manageable, other times I hate myself and everything else. I’d figured out how to deal with it though and developed a few coping strategies, mainly by listening to steady streams of music and journaling. Of course I had days where the emptiness built up too much inside and I temporarily collapsed, but I’d emerge after a day or two of excessive crying and little to no sleep to return to my version of normal.

Last fall though, it all became too much for me. It started with a boy. I don’t want to blame everything on him—I’m very much a believer in personal accountability—but I will absolutely say that he acted as a catalyst.

We dated long distance for the summer, and things were relatively well. I didn’t feel satisfied with my shitty summer job though and I also didn’t always feel exactly welcome at home. Tensions developed between my mother and I; this was the first time I’d ever really dated. I also felt disconnected from my friends and became hyper aware of faults and flaws that were within myself. At the end of the summer I went back to the big city for school.

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Longer story short: that guy—my first real boyfriend—had lied and cheated on me. He’d also revealed that he was a porn addict and had refused my efforts to be a supportive, understanding girlfriend. He used me as a sex toy and, in the end, told me that everything had been more or less my own fault because I was too sad, and it brought him down.

I don’t remember if I had ever felt so miserable in my life. He’d known how much value I placed on my sexuality and he’d completely disrespected me. I took a ton of emotional and mental abuse from him, but I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. And then I’d been made to feel subhuman, absolutely worthless and of no actual value, other than something to fuck.

I still felt isolated from friends and family, so I had nobody who I felt like I could turn to or confide in. I was trapped in a bubble of self-loathing and hate, and the only thing worse than dreaming was waking up to face reality.

My grades and academics were the next thing to go. Focusing on classes was next to impossible for me, and doing homework or showing up for tests appeared to be pointless.

It ended with me in a basement bathroom, sitting on the floor next to the toilet and sobbing. In my absolute low, I’d tried contacting the porn addict to ask for help. In my mind, I had nowhere else to go. He told me to go to church, even though he was a god-hating, non-believer. Desperate, I called my grandma and explained through sobs and awful reception that I didn’t feel well and I wanted to go home.

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I wanted to kill myself. I knew how I’d do it. But for some reason…I didn’t. I scheduled an appointment with a psychologist instead. I started taking antidepressants and attending therapy. I talked to my friends and they started checking in with me daily to make sure I was still alive and relatively okay.

And now I’m here. I’m still in school, I talk to my friends, I talk to my mom, I write letters to my grandma, and I’m dating a new guy (who does not spend his days making me feel like I’m not good enough). I had a pretty decent life last fall, but I completely fell apart. I’m not sure I really regret it either.

I hate that I got so low and that I let one person have such a strong influence and bearing upon myself. But I got myself some help. I’ve learned how to take better care of myself. I’ve also come to realize what respect and love really are and now I’m not settling for anything less.

The thing about the experience that I’m most proud of though is how I came away from it as a stronger individual. I used to be quiet and timid, and I still am, but I absolutely will no longer take shit from anybody. I’m much braver than I ever gave myself credit for as well. I’ve confronted my problems and fears and worked to resolve them.

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I may not like how I fell apart, but what matters is that I came back a stronger, wiser person. I’m a fighter. I have tenacity. I don’t know if I had very much of either of those before my mental breakdown.