Dear Depression,

We’ve come a long way. You crept in shortly after dad died, taking away every ounce of hope I had left. Every day seemed like a struggle I did not want to fight. Every morning was a battle to get out of bed, get dressed, and live my life. It was almost as though I was just a shell of my former self, and you did the talking for me. For as truly agonizing as you were, I am glad you came for a ride with me. You taught me a lot about myself, and for that, I am thankful.

I remember the first time I was prescribed medication for you. I was so angry at myself, I thought it was my fault. If I could just be happy, I wouldn’t need to swallow pills daily. But, it didn’t work like that. I couldn’t just be happy. Inside, I was crippling. I knew if I didn’t shove medication down my throat, I wouldn’t last much longer. Zoloft turned into Busparone, and Trazodone, and eventually Prozac. It all seemed ridiculous, and I hated myself for having to rely on a pill to maintain stable. It was necessary but not at all fun.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, I did. I did it well. Every time I thought I had enough, I took one more step. Each step led to a new accomplishment. Every day I didn’t want to live, I did, and I am so proud of myself. I could have easily taken my life like my father did, but there was no way I was taking the easy way out. I was no fool. The feeling of actually living and not JUST existing is so amazing. It was like after all these years I was finally able to breathe clearly, and the fresh air changed me. I wouldn’t wish the darkness of you on my worst enemy.

I will never forget how you made me feel. The emptiness is something that I will never forget. You made me feel like I had no purpose, no reason, and worst of all no chance. I contemplated all of these years what my purpose is in life. I couldn’t quite figure it out until just recently. Every time I write an article about something that I’ve learned or the tragedy that I’ve faced, I’m reaching out to someone. If I could just help one person, then my work is complete. I couldn’t ask for a better purpose in life.

I am not cured. I have my days where I feel totally useless, but they’re just days. To those of you reading, I hope you don’t suffer from the darkness of depression. However, if you do, I want you to know everything will be okay. I know it’s the most cliche thing anyone could say, but it is true. If you haven’t gotten help yet, please do so. Change your life around before it’s too late. I wish my dad would have done the same.

To those who are suffering: Stay strong. You are loved.

Depression, I thank you for making me stronger but I do not want you back into my life in full swing. College already makes me lose sleep, I don’t need you lurking around.

 

 

Leah Koneski

 

 

Surviving Sexual Assault

Each year, about 293,000 people are sexually assaulted. What’s even scarier than that? 98% of rapists will never go to jail over their actions. If that does not infuriate you, you are probably a small fraction of the problem. I have more than a handful of friends who have in one way, shape, or form, been victims of rape or sexual assault. I am no different. I understand.

It is incredibly important to speak out against these acts, as it has an impact on victims forever. It does not matter what a girl wears. It does not matter if they were drunk. It does not matter if they are/were your girlfriend. These girls do not owe you sex. They do not owe you anything at all.

I wasn’t dressed in some elaborate outfit, it was not some short dress with high heels. I was wearing a hoodie and a pair of baggy sweatpants when someone tried forcing me into acts I did not wish to partake in. It was someone I knew, a friend I trusted, and certainly no one I ever acted interested in. It was October of 2014 and I will never forget it. It was the first of two uncomfortable situations I was put in due to the lack of respect I was given by people I truly trusted. I never once mentioned it to authorities. Why? It is my word against theirs, and unfortunately there was no proof. In a way, I feel guilty about not reporting it, I hope and pray that no girl has to deal with the hand I was dealt. I hope that no other girl cries themselves to sleep at night, wishing that the actions never took place. I pray that no other girl has to deal with the trust issues towards other guys who mean no harm to them.

And if my praying doesn’t work, and if all hope runs out, and if that girl is you, I want to apologize. I hope that you can recover from how this broke you down and made you weaker than you thought possible. I hope that you won’t cringe at every guy that tries to get to know you. I hope you find peace and comfort with my words as I try to tell you that it will get easier. The memory will never go away, but you can run from it or you can learn from it. I hope you find someone who loves you despite your past, and I will applaud him for taking on someone so broken and hurt. I hope you will wear whatever you want without a fear that you will be punished for it. I am here for you and I love you.

 

To everyone else, I hope this article makes you uncomfortable. I am not afraid to let people know what I have gone through in an attempt to help someone else. Knowing of my past may have you think differently of me, and that is okay. I am only stronger because of it. Please do not worry about me. I am fine. Worry about your girlfriends, your sisters, your aunts, your mothers…worry about them.

 

And a final message to the two people who took advantage of me in the worst way possible:

Thank you. Thank you for helping me understand what a real man is not. Thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson, even if I did not know it was one at the time. I hope you find the help you need, because quite frankly, the two of you are all sorts of fu**** up. I forgive you for your actions but I will never forget, and I do anticipate that karma gets you in the end.

I know she will.

Social Media vs. Confidence

Ladies, we have all done it. You spend hours perfecting your image in hopes of taking a selfie worthy enough to be posted on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. You sit back, grasp ahold of each ‘like’, and suddenly you are reassured of everyone’s approval. But why?

Why do we have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, or act a certain way in order to feel that we are complete? Why must we spend hours on social media in an attempt to find new ways to soak up attention? The harsh truth is that these ‘likes’ or ‘favorites’ will not determine your worth. They will not make a difference on your death bed. Honestly, they are not worth shit.

I am no stranger to this topic. I, just like everyone else my age, post selfies and statuses and try to make myself look cooler than I am. In all reality, I am just a 19 year old college freshman. I work at a gas station and I sleep a lot. But to my hundreds of followers across the web, I’m sure I look much more appealing than that.

Tonight, somewhere between self-loathing and enjoying my one (wo)man pity party, I have come to the realization that this is all just really exhausting. I am tired of crying because my body does not look the same of every other girl on the Internet. I am tired of comparing myself to everyone else. I am especially tired of thinking that social media makes one person better than the other. 

Confidence needs to come from within and not by people on your Facebook friend list. It is not easy. Confidence is an everyday battle. I surely haven’t gotten it nailed down just right yet. However, I am trying, and I hope you are too.

So before you post that selfie and spend your whole day counting the amount of ‘likes’ you receive on it, please remember you are beautiful with or without them.

5 Signs You are in a Toxic Relationship

When you find someone in this world that you care for, cherish, and adore, it’s hard seeing your circumstance for how it actually is compared to a rose colored lense. If you are lucky, destiny will spare you the heartache that is toxicity. Not everyone is lucky, and not everyone will make it out untouched.

1. They put you down.
I am not all that religious, but my soul contains some faith I like to stick to when times get rough. I like to believe in ghosts, the afterlife, and a higher being. Your partner should not put you down for your beliefs. They should not belittle you. Most importantly, they should not make you feel dumb for clinging on to something that comforts you. Please walk away.

2. They force you into anything you are not comfortable with.
Your body is YOURS. It does not matter if you are together, if you are not comfortable with engaging in a particular activity with your partner, do not. Make it clear that your body is YOURS. If they force you into something you do not want, it is not your fault. Please walk away.

3. They threaten to hurt themselves if you leave.
This is a slap in the face, especially to those who have lost family and friends to suicide. This is manipulative, cruel, and everything in between. Do NOT fall for this or let a (probably) empty threat consume you. Please walk away.

4. They blame you for their mistakes.
Nothing screams insecurity like putting the blame on someone you “love.” If your partner can’t take the blame for their own mistakes, they are not mature enough to be in a committed and loving relationship. Nothing you do or say will change this. Please walk away.

5. They question everything you do.
If you cannot look at Facebook, message anybody, or spend a night out with a group of friends without being interrogated, there is a huge problem. A relationship with no trust is not a relationship. They do not own you. Don’t fall for this. Possessiveness isn’t cute, it’s scary. It could lead to a lot worse situations. Please walk away.

I can’t say I have had it the worst out of everybody, but I definitely should not have been subject to such behavior from someone who claimed they cared for me as much as they did. The things I have experienced changed me, ruined me, and fixed me all at once. I realize now I am worth more than I had previously thought. I deserve someone who does not force me into doing things I do not want to do. I deserve someone who supports my decisions and cheers me on when I am feeling low. I deserve to feel beautiful every single day. The greatest part? You do too. We all do.
I hope you find that someone.
(I think I did.)

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