Once upon a time there was a girl, about sixteen or seventeen years old. If you met her on the street you'd say she looked like a normal person. However, if you spent a little while with her, you might notice a few strange things. Like the fact that even though the sun was shining and it was ninety degrees, she would be wearing a long sleeve shirt. Or that she always folded her arms and never looked you in the face. If you spoke to her classmates they'd tell you she was very different. This girl sat in the corner of her classroom and never spoke, and she spent most of the day writing lists. She cried a lot, refused to eat in front of people and was forever turning up at school covered in bandages.
This girl was me a few years back. The long shirts hid the scars from where I had cut myself and the lists were of things I wanted people to have if I died and those tears were because life just seemed too overwhelming. I went through a phase in life where I was so depressed I lost the will to live. I honestly never thought I'd survive to see my eighteenth birthday.
I searched deep inside myself and summoned all the strength I could find and did the bravest thing I've ever done. I asked for help. At first I thought I was beyond all help and that there was nothing anyone could do. But I took the medication and kept my appointments with counselors.
Slowly I opened myself up to the idea that I could get better. Once that door opened and I let people in who could help me, I began to push everything unhelpful out. I surrounded myself with only the most positive things and people. It was like being surrounded with as much cotton as I could get my hands on.
The amazing thing about wrapping yourself in cotton is that you start to heal, just like the scars on my arms did when I bandaged them and protected the wounds from external exposure.
Eventually I felt happier and more at peace with the world. Little bit by little bit I started to unwrap the cotton and get back out into the real world. Every time I removed a layer, I grew stronger and my faith in myself increased. And I even started to see positive things in the real world. Then, one day I realized I had removed all of my protection and, with the support of my doctors and counselors, I was actually facing the world with nothing but my own strength.
I did turn eighteen. In fact, I turn twenty-one in January. I still take medication and see counselors, and every now and again I'll have to wrap myself in cotton for a while. It was a really difficult journey, and it still is. Once I thought my depression was too big and all encompassing to ever get through. But I did.