My whole life I was told to sit pretty and keep my mouth shut… little girls were meant to be seen not heard.  I was pretty good at my job of doing this and was the little girl that dreams were made of. Sugar, spice, and everything nice.  I smiled, said please and thank you, wore pretty pink dresses, and never disobeyed. Little did anyone I was slowly dying inside.  My little brother was born when I was 3 years old, from the day he came home he was not easy, and that’s putting it nicely. As he got older he was always getting into trouble and my parents were always dealing with him and I became invisible.  Because he was so difficult even more pressure was put on me to be perfect, and not rock the boat. My parents were also engineers and had very stressful jobs that demanded a lot of them.

I can remember having anxiety as young as five years old.  I would ring my hands together and was constantly worried about something.  I was five years old what could I possibly have to be worried or stressed about?  But that is just how anxiety works, there is no rhyme or reason to it. Since I have always been a perfectionist  I was not the best at something in my eyes I was a failure.  This only fueled my anxiety and depression because I always felt like I was never good enough, or at least that’s what I told myself every day.  

I was put in every extra curricular activity you can think of.  Dance, gymnastics, sports, theatre, ice skating… pretty much whatever could keep me busy and out of the way.  I played my part well and only just wanted approval from others and my parents. If I got one question wrong on a test I was reprimanded for not getting a 100%.  My brother meanwhile was getting into trouble every day at school and had severe behavioral issues. Instead of being punished he was coddled and my parents always had a reason and excuse for why he was getting trouble.  He played the victim really well and was able to easily manipulate them and others.

My sophomore year of high school my parents got divorced and the whole dynamic in our family changed.  My dad decided he did not want us anymore and did not want to see his children anymore or take any responsibility for us.  My mom was left as a single mom dealing with two teenage kids. My depression was at its worst, and I had my first suicide attempt at 15 years old.  I tried self medicating with drugs and alcohol for years, which only worsened my depression and several more suicide attempts follow.  I felt as if there was no other way out from how I was feeling. I just wanted to give up.

My journey in recovery began when I was thirty four years old, and my addiction has spiraled out of control.  I knew nothing about addiction or that there was another way of life. Through a outpatient dual diagnosis treatment center I found healthy ways to cope and deal with my anxiety and depression.  I work a strong program through AA and today I am healthy, happy, and sober woman.

I thank God everyday that I was able to get the help I needed so desperately to heal, and begin on my journey of recovery. Overcoming depression, and anxiety, can be difficult especially when it is co-occurring with substance abuse.  Just like with alcohol and drug abuse there are deeper issues that are causing these behaviors. Once they are identified, and treated by a professional you can learn healthy coping mechanisms.

Crystal Hampton is a 37-year-old avid writer from South Florida.  She loves snuggling with her teacup Yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam.  She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.