How Characters Carried Me Through Middle School
I’ve mentioned my struggle with anxiety and depression in other posts and it’s something I plan to discuss openly on Lady Bluebottle. Today though, I want to talk about what carried me through the early stages of my struggle, before I even knew what anxiety and depression really were.
My struggle with depression started in high school and likely stemmed directly from the anxiety I experienced throughout middle school. Middle school was 6th – 8th grade in my district, roughly ages 12 – 14. When I say rough, well, it was rough for me. Compared to the experiences of many others I’m sure my middle school years were easy and tame. But for an anxious, introverted, and sensitive child like myself, they were some of my hardest days.
For starters, I had braces and acne and terrible bangs that stuck to my greasy forehead. I struggled to find friends and fit in. My home life consisted of an older brother who either picked on me or ignored me, a mother who worked part-time but didn’t get home until dinner, and a father with an explosive temper. I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Not home and not at school and when I was 13, those were pretty much the only places I had.
Until I found books and writing and poetry, that is. They soon became my three best friends.
After school I retreated to my bedroom, safely sandwiched on the floor between my bed and the window, and read. With only the company of my blanket and my book, I escaped the awkwardness of 7th grade and the discomforts of home. My world was replaced by The Babysitter’s Club and the adventures of characters like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
After finishing a book I was always lost in my head, which was suddenly filled with characters. I started writing constantly during middle school. From short stories to fiction, I was skilled at starting future literary masterpieces and never finishing them.
In 8th grade I was introduced to poetry in English class and I fell in love. Short poems I could write, finish, and perfect. Poetry became the main outlet for my 14 year old angst. I wrote about God, love, my friends, and my father’s anger. Without poetry, I don’t know if I would have expressed my emotions in a constructive and reflective way.
Writing saved me in middle school and helped me through the rough times in high school, when depression hit me hard. In college I found myself burdened with required books and papers, making reading and writing for fun something I put on hold for awhile. Then a few years ago I started a blog and it slowly rekindled my passion for writing.
Today, writing has become not only an outlet for my thoughts and feelings but also a way to build relationships and connect with other people. I don’t need saving in the same way I did when I was huddled on the floor next to my bed but I do need characters in my life just as much.
A lot more.