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When I first started high school, everything seemed to be going fine. I had my friends from middle school and was making a couple of new friends here and there. As the year went on, however, I noticed that everyone and everything were changing. My friends often left me out. I was the odd ball. I dressed differently, acted differently, listened to different music, and never felt like I belonged anywhere. My parents broke up and my grandmother was dying. My grades were bad, and I just wasn't into anything.

I felt like I was floating; pretending I was fine so no one would wonder why Joy wasn't so “joyful.” That's where it began. I always thought about cutting, but never did. I was too scared. I cried a lot for no reason, and the crazy thing was, no one suspected anything.

Thankfully, I made it through freshman year. Then my mom and I moved into a new apartment, just the two of us. I started at a new school, where I felt completely alone. All my siblings had left for college or moved out. I became withdrawn. I didn't interact with people genuinely. I smiled on the outside but I didn't feel anything on the inside. I was 15 at the time.

Not every single day is going to be great, or even good. Some days suck, and that's okay. I can’t let my disease stop me from living and loving anymore.
The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to die each morning when I woke up. I cried in the shower almost every day because I didn't want to scare anyone. My depression made me numb and empty; it made me angry at my mom for no reason; it made me want to hide. I was so ashamed that I was losing myself.

One day, I decided I was tired of being empty. I found the strength to speak up, and told my mom everything. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. The absolute hardest. I exposed all the parts of myself that I thought were ugly or embarrassing. I put myself out there, and that's how you start. Just cry out for help. Don't try to be so strong that you neglect your emotions. Once you begin to make a habit of that, you'll begin not to feel at all. Then you wonder how the hell to get out.

Nowadays I still struggle with being honest about who I am. I still struggle with depression. I still feel emotionally and mentally disconnected sometimes. But I’m no longer ashamed of myself. Not every single day is going to be great, or even good. Some days suck, and that's okay. I do my best, because I know that I can’t let my disease stop me from living and loving anymore. I am worth loving. My soul is worth fighting for, and I will never let depression tell me otherwise ever again.