#APOPFNF Profile: Stormy Smith

unnamed-5Name: Stormy Smith Age: 22

Weight: Mind your own business

Occupation: Illustration Student

Challenge: Overcoming depression and anxiety

"There is no before and after picture for depression. There is no scale or measurement or handy little chart or progressive slide show. The only real way to see improvement is to know the person and know who they were before they took steps to improve, or stick around long enough to see them slip up. When someone loses weight anyone can see it, but when someone treats an illness it can be hard to understand and identify.

It was around middle school when I started to notice a difference between me and just about the whole world. I didn’t really want to do things or go places or talk to anyone, but I did. I went out with friends and the whole time I wished for it to be over, I found myself anticipating the end of the day, not the activities. Everyone just chalked it up to thirteen-year-old hormones and being a crabby person.

unnamed-6High school is when depression really kicked my ass. Depression comes in many forms, not just sadness and mine came out in anger. I was mean. Not just snarky, but like that one girl everybody knew they could never show weakness in front of because she would eat them alive. I became the friend you only invited out if you were desperate, and it hurt. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t like me, because I couldn’t understand I was hurting them. Everything hurt me, and I just assumed that was the way it was suppose to be, I cried every night, but I never thought to tell anyone. My senior year everything came to a head. I didn’t so much break down as I had already been broken for quite some time.

The steps to getting myself help were the hardest and greatest things I ever did. The first step to solving any problem is talking and boy did I do a lot of that. I talked to family, I talked to friends, I talked to doctors, and I talked to therapists. Not every method works for every person and for me talking became too much. I tried a few different therapists, but it became apparent that it wasn’t so much the therapists themselves, than the act of therapy that wasn’t working. A lot of people choose not to became medicated, but let me tell you I am not one of them. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, couple that with dyslexia and insomnia, I was a constant ball of nerves. No amount of talking and breathing exercises were going to change that. I was lucky though, the first medication the doctors put me on was a success, which doesn’t always happen.

While I had a great support system in the form of family, I didn’t have that same support in school. My friends had come to know me as a certain person and it scared them that I was changing so rapidly. Some of them were uncomfortable talking about my illness because of the stigma we place on mental illnesses and some of them just didn’t like change. Unfortunately I lost a lot of friends, but who needs friends that can't support you changing for the better. When I was struggling I was able to discern who was really there for me and who wasn’t.

unnamed-4I started the journey to improvement when I was seventeen and it has not always been smooth sailing. Like anyone I have fallen of the wagon. Sometimes I isolate myself or stop taking my meds, but the person I want to be is always there reminding me to get back up, not to mention all the amazing friends and family I have always helping guide me (and even sometimes dragging me kicking and screaming). It’s been five years since I made the steps to change myself and it will always be hard, but it will always be worth it."

Do you have an inspiring health or fitness story? Comment below or share on social media using the hashtag #APOPFNF (APOP Fitness Nerd Family) with a reason you should be featured in our next #APOPFNF profile! I will be adding a new profile every other Sunday so get your entries in now :)