Worth the Wait

Worth the Wait

by Gianna Garcia

It was August 2020 when I started the 7th grade. Covid had just passed over and school was started back. Part of me was excited to start living again, I had felt trapped inside my house and lost but not knowing it because I was 12 years old and had never experienced numbness before. But that other part of me was anxious and fearful; I didn’t have the most reliable friends and was scared to go to my family because I didn’t know what was happening. I felt as if no one loved me, considering I hated myself. 

I would always reminisce on everything I had said or did during the day and beat myself up for it—and that’s when the cutting would occur. While my self-hate struggle started with my personality, it wasn’t long before I would hear people at school call me fat or ugly and it started to pierce my self-worth deeper and deeper, til there was none left. I would act fine in front of my blood family and church family so they wouldn't worry, but truthfully they knew and were concerned. 

I started to close all the doors. I stopped talking and became very shy. I stopped eating and sometimes I would throw up my food. This cycle became routine until I started going down in clothing sizes and my mom got concerned and took me to my first therapy session in 2021. I didn’t want to worry my parents more sitting in that room with the leader of our church’s worship team and the two of them. I didn’t say much other than what I thought they would want to hear. Most of the time was spent with them voicing changes they saw or their worries. 

I felt some hope when I was sitting there though, I felt that my life could potentially change but I still had no idea how to change my habits or get out of the state of mind I had now lived in for 2 years. 

Time passed and I never went back to therapy and began talking to some friends from church or school I felt I could trust with what I was going through and potentially understand. High school was starting and I was more anxious than ever, I still had no self-worth and didn’t feel worthy of anything. I started getting complimented more on my appearance this year when I started wearing cute clothes, putting on makeup, and being skinnier. But this didn’t fill the void of insecurity and hate I felt for myself in my heart. 

I got involved with an older boy in secret and let my self-worth depend on what he would say to me each day. I would tell myself it was okay even when he made me feel worse and manipulate my mind into saying when he would bring me down that it wasn’t true. After several months, this came to an end, I became reckless, not caring what I did or what happened to me. I had friends who encouraged my bad habits and would just tell me I was fine or that my problems weren’t “that bad” and to stop complaining because they had it worse. 

I would tell myself that it was the truth and that anxiety, depression, that numb feeling I couldn’t shake, the food I forced myself not to eat, and the cuts that I would press to my skin—weren’t bad and that maybe I am just annoying, stupid and ugly as people would tell me. I was stopped in my reckless tracks when I received a text from my pastor who had found out about me and the older boy, I thought the world was going to end. It was not just everything we had done but it was all my problems (the ones that weren’t “that bad”). I then spilled my guts to my parents feeling more horrible with myself and everything I had done. 

This is where my journey started. Changes had to happen now whether I liked it or not. I was beginning to exit the season of my freshman year and I decided to drop the hate I had for myself, the people who had hurt me, and most importantly the pain and grudges I carried with me since the 7th grade. Knowing what I knew being raised by my parents and grandparents I began to cry out to God. I found the perfect therapist for me who would encourage me to go for what she, I, and God all knew what was best for me, she would let me rant while angry or sad and listen then we would pray or figure out what to do with the situation. 

I began to gain control of my anxiety when the toxic people in my life left one by one, I stopped my self-hate habits and shifted my mind to every time something negative would be said about me (whether it was made from my mind or came out of someone else’s mouth) I would make myself say 3 things I loved about myself. I started to find myself and two of the best friends I knew I would have for the rest of my life. Now, this journey took some tears, panic attacks, and more lessons to be learned and more mistakes to be made but I didn’t come this far just to stop here. I now have goals for myself, stillness and peace in my life, closer relationships with my family and God, SO much love for myself and my body, and I no longer feel numb and I have control of my anxiety. Yes, sometimes I’ll have a panic attack or I’ll get sad, but I know I can find my way just as I have before and that I am strong and worthy of love. 

Upon discovering ADAA's mission, I felt an immediate resonance. I am eager to share my journey with ADAA as I strive to develop my platform for community service, aiming to secure a title in our local community pageant. My fervor lies in fundraising for this organization, spreading awareness, and supporting individuals in navigating their daily mental health challenges. 

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