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My depression started when I was thirteen years old. That was the year my adoptive mom, who had raised me from the age of four, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

I remember the months that followed all too clearly. I would watch the video they played at her funeral over and over just to see her face. I started having trouble sleeping; sometimes I woke up with my face drenched in tears while I shook uncontrollably. I started to hate myself and wish that I had died in her place, because she was such a wonderful person and so many people loved her while I felt forgotten and unloved.

Not long afterward, my adoptive dad invited his girlfriend to move in, and she instantly hated my two younger siblings and I. Suddenly, my adoptive dad changed. Instead of being our loving best friend and protector who did everything with us, he joined her in verbally and emotionally abusing us daily. When I was fourteen, the physical abuse started. No one knew about the welts on our backs from horse whips or the black and blue marks across our butts, legs, and lower backs from the thick boards they made. We did a good job of hiding it.

Then, with all of that, he gradually started to get me alone. At first it was small things, like a comment here, or a brush against me there, but it soon escalated to climbing into bed with me and night and forcing himself on me while daring me to say a peep. That went on for over a year. I was too afraid to say anything because I knew that it would be a “he said, she said” ordeal; he was so careful that I would never have enough evidence to prove anything.

When my adoptive dad started molesting me I started cutting myself, purging, and thinking constantly about suicide. Sometimes I felt so empty and numb, but panic attacks would release all those bottled up emotions. I cut about three times a week, on my left wrist mainly from my inner wrist all the way to my elbow, but also my hips, my inner thighs, and even my chest, just to feel and feel like I was still in control of something. Whenever my cuts started to heal, I'd cut again. I couldn't stand it if they left me too, I needed them. I believed I deserved the treatment I was giving myself. I thought about suicide almost everyday. I hated myself and was so confused as to why I was handed such an awful life when I use to consider myself a good person.

Does it ever really leave us, the darkness? I don't believe it does, but I think that it teaches us how to become stronger. We can learn how to fight it off.
A few weeks after I turned sixteen I had my worst panic attack up until that point. That night, I took a razor and cut a deep gash from elbow to wrist in order to bleed out. Thankfully I didn’t. I was caught and taken to the hospital, where I revealed everything. My siblings and I were removed from the home and placed in my aunt and uncle’s home, where we lived for a year. My adoptive dad signed his rights away and went free.

I couldn't stop the anxiety attacks and the cutting, so I went inpatient for awhile and healed some. When I got out, my siblings and I were placed in an emergency shelter because my aunt could not deal with a suicidal child, and we lived there for another year.

When the year mark approached, we serendipitously met a couple at an adoption party, and instantly clicked. A month later we moved in with them, and have been living there for a little over a year. Over the past year with my new parents, I've been going through counseling and have learned so many things about myself and my depression.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD, severe depression and anxiety; but now, I’m going on two years since the last time I cut and almost a year since my last panic attack. The battle has been tough, but I can easily say it's made me a stronger person all around. I won't lie though; some days I feel that darkness I lived with for so long creep back in, and it takes all my strength to push it away.

Does it ever really leave us, the darkness? I don't believe it does, but I think that it teaches us how to become stronger. We can learn how to fight it off.

I graduated this year at the top of my class and will be attending the college of my dreams in the fall. It makes me proud of myself because I never thought I would even live to see graduation. Sometimes I stop and think about where I've come from and where I am now, and I have the urge to shout to the world, “I DID IT!” And if I can do it, so can you.