My Chemical Romance is a band that defines my teenage years. Music is what got me through that stage where I thought I knew everything, and that everything was not something I enjoyed. Being a teenager, for me, brought a lot of darkness and emptiness. From 13 to 17, I did not see an end to my anxiety and depression, and I didn’t know how to deal with that.
This song is what gave hope. It shows great courage and determination to keep on living, to keep hope alive, and to believe in personal strength. It validated my feelings and gave me the strength to fight. This song started out as a hope for the future, something I could one day listen to and be proud that this was my song. Now, at this moment, it is a song that represents my story.
“And I know There’s nothing I can say To change that part”
These lines symbolize a feeling I was all too familiar with—that feeling of needing to fix something and not knowing how. I am usually the rock, the one who can give people advice and support. At this time in my life, I could see that my social anxiety and depression were problems. I was feeding my anxiety in the only relief I could find at that time, self-injury. I knew this was not healthy, and I knew that I needed to stop. I knew what I needed to hear, think, and do, but there was nothing I could tell myself to make it better.
“A life that’s so demanding I get so weak A love that’s so demanding I can’t speak”
I moved around a lot growing up. I moved somewhere new every two years, which was torture for my anxiety. I would finally start building friendships and community, and then it would be time for me to leave. Change was not something I could handle well. My family saw it and blame themselves, which made it worse. I felt like I was the one who was hurting them because I could not stop being scared.
My anxiety kept me from talking to people, especially talking about my feelings. It isolated me. There was nothing I could say to make it better, so I felt that there was no point in me saying anything at all. I ended up in a relationship in high school that took a lot from me, but nothing was ever given back. I felt trapped because he kept me safe from the parts of life that made me afraid, but I did not feel safe with him.
It was at this point in my life, in the middle of an unhealthy relationship, that I decided to talk about my feelings, because enough was enough and something had to be done. I talked to my family and my friends; I even reached out to a teacher. Then, I learned about To Write Love On Her Arms. Community had always been something I feared, but I was running straight toward it.
“I am not afraid to keep on living I am not afraid to walk this world alone”
These are the lines in the song that I repeat to myself every time I feel my anxiety pushing to the surface. I am not afraid anymore. I say to myself that I can “do life.” The things I dealt with will stay with me forever, but I will never let them define me. It will never be an excuse, and it will never be all of who I am.
I am a survivor, and nothing can stop me.
“Can you see My eyes are shining bright ‘Cause I’m out here On the other side”
This part of the song was my goal for a long time. I wanted to feel these words. I wanted to allow myself to sing these words with pride.
I can do that now.
The light had finally been turned on in my mind and heart. I feel that when I look in the mirror. There is light, compassion, and love behind my eyes. I am on the other side of my anxiety, depression, and self-injury. I can honestly say that no one will ever push me to that dark place again. The only person that can push me there is myself. That is why I live my life day-to-day. Recovery is one day at a time.
“I see you lying next to me With words I thought I’d never speak Awake and unafraid”
These lines have changed for me in the last two months. Before these lines meant my anxiety and depression lying next to me day after day. They are things I will always be recovering from and dealing with healthily. Now, these lines are about freedom. I am talking about my story and my struggles, and I am not afraid of them.
Sharing a house with five beautiful people during this internship has changed the meaning of these last few words. I have let these people into my story. They will always be with me. I carry them in my heart.
After this internship, we will all be going back to our lives and taking our lessons back home. These people have heard the words I thought I’d never speak, and I am not afraid of that. I sought refuge in community, and I am a changed young woman, not that lost teenager I once was thanks to my bravery and my community.