Caitie Gutierrez

For as long as I can remember, "normal" has been a struggle for me. Anything from school, to work, to my social life created some sort of dread within my mind that was racing around the clock.

I was constantly questioning my very existence. I had an extremely difficult time keeping consistent grades and I would avoid school whenever possible. Despite my attempts to try to get involved with extracurricular activities, my social life was very inconsistent as well. I would have many sleepless nights, and some days I would just hide in my room and sleep through all of the important moments. I would skip out on birthday parties, dance recitals, singing lessons, and basically anything a kid should be able to enjoy. I would shut down under pressure, and my family, teachers and peers seemed to struggle to understand exactly what was happening or what I needed. I would cut out friends or other important relationships as quickly as I would make them because I never felt worthy enough to take up space in anyone else's life. I considered myself a living, breathing burden. As a matter of fact, I didn't even plan on graduating high school. In my mind, I was set on not being here anymore.

I was in therapy for a decade, and at some point decided it was time to turn to medication. Things got better, and I was able to function "normally" for some time. I experienced many beautiful life moments with friends and loved ones and I clung to them. I received disability accommodations from the college I was attending and that made things all the more bearable. My grades improved, my social life was blooming, and I felt the best I had in a very long time.

After some point; however, I started to not be consistent with my medication. I started experiencing all of the previous issues listed again and found myself spiraling out of control. I was living in Colorado when it all came crashing down. I moved back to New York to be with my family and friends. I was in desperate need of their love and support (and boy did they give it to me!).

Despite all of the love, I was not able to regulate myself. I had shown all of the signs: I drastically changed my appearance, I gave away belongings I had once held dear, and took many actions that were risky and without concern for my health or safety. I was numbing myself with pills and unhealthy people who took advantage of me at my most vulnerable point. It all came down to one moment where I had felt enough was enough. My cry for help reached the forefront and I over-medicated myself to stop the pain. The attempt was unsuccessful, and I was lucky enough to be present for my amazing and beautiful little sister's high school graduation and prom. Immediately afterwards, I was hospitalized and was not able to leave until I was regulated again.

It was during these moments that I finally allowed myself to accept compassion from the most important people in my life: my parents, my sister, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents, my cousins, my friends. They gathered around me in a cradle of support and for the first time in my life I let myself experience their love without once questioning my deservedness. It was liberating and it was beautiful.

I've come to accept that this is my struggle, but my struggle is my story and it is mine and it is beautiful.

It has been just over a year now and I still consider myself in recovery. I like to say that I'm in remission because I guess I’ll never know when or if it can hit again. I've come to accept that this is my struggle, but my struggle is my story and it is mine and it is beautiful.

I have learned to live my life raw. I let myself feel everything: the love and the pain. It has become my mission to never leave anyone wondering how I feel about them. If I love you, you know it. You will hear it and see it in my actions again and again. I wear my struggle on my sleeve just in case someone else is hiding theirs, so they can know they are not alone and they are important and they are loved. I have taken my life by the reins and have began my new journey: travelling the world. I am now living in a new country, creating new relationships and experiences and I am relishing in Every. Single. Moment.

When I saw The Makeshift Movement page on Facebook, I was immediately filled with excitement and pride. If I was able to make it through that time of my life with solely the support of my loved ones, imagine what an ENTIRE COMMUNITY can do for someone else. We need to keep talking about mental health, as the conversation is never really over.

by Caitie Gutierrez

Caitie Gutierrez

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