Living an anxious life

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Hope Garman is a sophomore at Kent State University studying Integrated Language Arts. Last summer Garman was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, and has suffered from type a Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. “A lot of the time I feel alone, and that I can’t talk to anyone.” said Garman.

Living an anxious life

For as long as she can remember, Hope Garman has had obsessive compulsive tendencies. She heard stories from her mother about her need for order and neatness as a child.

“If … one thing in my room (was moved), I’d freak out, making sure I (fixed) it and making sure everything else was OK,” Garman said. “I dealt with that growing up.”

As she grew older, her need for control and order evolved into anxiety and depression.

Garman used to be a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl.” Her parents divorced when she was young, so she and her younger brother split their time between her mother’s house and her father and stepmother’s house. Given the choice, though, she preferred being with her father. 

During her sophomore year of high school, Garman’s life was turned upside down when her father moved out-of-state.

“He just picked up and moved a week after telling me and my brothers,” she said. “So I didn’t get to see him all the time, didn’t get to talk to him all the time like I was used to.”

Garman isolated herself from her mother and brothers. She felt all alone — she hadn’t been close to anyone in her family except her father and his wife.

“It just threw my whole schedule off from what I was used to over the years,” she said. “And then I just starting withdrawing from my friends, my family.”

Her mother and brother were judgmental of her father and his family. They openly expressed their disdain for him — a feeling Garman didn’t share or appreciate hearing.

Although she was surrounded by her family, she felt alone. She felt emotionally low. By her junior year of high school, her isolation tendencies gravitated toward feelings of depression.

A dangerous state of mind

One night, her mother was working late. It was just Garman and her brothers at home. They got into a fight, which resulted in Garman locking herself in the restroom. She turned on the shower and cried.

“I started thinking it would all be easier if I were just dead,” Garman said. “Because no one would have to deal with me (and) I wouldn’t have to deal with them.”

Looking through the medicine cabinet, she found a bottle of Vicodin left over from her youngest brother’s root canal surgery. She used her phone to research possible side effects that come with overdosing on prescription pills.

“I actually poured out all the pills in my hand and was planning on taking them,” Garman said.

A knock on the door from one of her brothers, complaining about needing to use the shower, interrupted her plans. And then she snapped out of it.

“I was kind of like, ‘Oh my god, I was just about to kill myself with my … brother in the next room,’” Garman said.

Amid a downward spiral

After that, Garman changed how she viewed — and lived — her life. She began talking more with the friends she’d shied away from before. She and her mother grew closer. Things were looking up.

But just days away from the start of her senior year of high school, Garman got a call from her father about a childhood friend of hers. He had committed suicide.

“That just shook me,” she said. “My anxiety started getting worse again throughout my senior year, and then it get really bad around my high school graduation.”

Since her father was far away, Garman’s relationship with him weakened. They’d become virtual strangers. And still, her anxiety creeped back into her life.

Amid the family issues she’d endured throughout her teen years, Garman started college at Kent State. She faced backlash on social media from family on her father’s side because she didn’t include them in a thank you note she posted after high school graduation. She defended herself, but felt the pressure of blame weighing down on her.

She started cutting her wrists. “It felt like every time I cut my wrists, things were better, (and) I wasn’t as stressed,” Garman said.

Garman forced herself to stop when she went home for the summer, but only because she didn’t want her family to know.

“I (didn’t) want them worrying about me or thinking that something’s wrong with me,” she said.

A turning point

Halfway through the summer, Garman discovered her mother had started speaking to a therapist for her own issues with depression and anxiety.

“Seeing her reach out and talk to someone really surprised me because I never thought of her as somebody having problems with that stuff,” she said. “So I finally worked up the courage and talked to her (about seeing a therapist of my own).”

Garman told her mother she wanted help handling her OCD. She didn’t tell her the real reason: to seek medication that would put an end to the suicidal thoughts circulating in her head.

“I told my doctor what had been going on, and she put me on medication, which has been helping me,” Garman said. “But I still haven’t told my family about wanting to kill myself … and all my cutting.”

Back at school this fall, the sophomore integrated language arts major said it’s been easier. Being away from home has helped her deal with the anxiety. Like any college student who has work and classes, Garman still experiences stress. But she said it’s not as overbearing as it once was.

She’s taken advantage of the therapy sessions available at White Hall on Kent State’s main campus.

“I told them everything I want to tell my family, but feel like I can’t,” Garman said. “And that’s helped a lot.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is the managing editor, contact her at [email protected]