My world was changing in every sense of the phrase. At the age of 12, I was moving from the Ukraine to Canada. I was leaving all of my friends and family as well as everything that I had known since the day I was born. I was going to be alone, an outsider; I was going to be the immigrant in all of my classes. If the life changes experienced through adolescence weren’t grueling enough, now, I had to cope with moving to an entirely foreign place with nothing but my parents and a suitcase.
I had an incredibly difficult time adapting to my new environment and my new life. I was immersed in a culture completely unknown to me. It wasn’t easy making new friends; especially when your first languages differ from one another. I yearned for the company of my friends and extended family back home.
At the age of 14, my world came crashing down; my parents were divorcing. My father’s alcoholism became so dangerous that it was unbearable for my mother. After the divorce, my mom suffered from severe depression. It was debilitating and as a result, she couldn’t work any longer and went on disability. I lost my father to the bottle and I lost my mother to her own despair.
I couldn’t believe that my family was ripped apart and it was entirely my fault. I couldn’t help either of my parents. My father was more focused on his next drink than spending time with his only daughter. I couldn’t save him no matter how much I tried. My mother was too miserable to get out of bed let alone make me lunch for school or take care of me in any way. I thought that I was the reason my father drank, for my mom’s depression and for my parents’ divorce. I blamed myself for everything and I just couldn’t cope with life anymore.
I tried to hide my pain with the drugs I started using, find comfort in dating any guy that gave me the slightest bit of attention, almost dropped out of school and when that wasn’t enough, I started cutting myself. I released the emotions that I couldn’t cope with through my promiscuous and destructive behaviors. Since I couldn’t be there for my parents and they weren’t there for me, I felt alone and couldn’t find a reason to live anymore. My depression worsened and I tried to take my own life… twice.
It was after my second suicide attempt that my Aunt Anna came and rescued me (my mother didn’t even care). My dear Aunt Anna took me to see a psychologist; this was the turning point in my life. Six months into therapy, I had completely changed my perception of myself as well as my self-esteem. I started realizing my own self-worth and valuing all that I had to offer myself as well as others. I went from blaming myself for my parents’ failures to accepting none of them were my fault or even in my control. I was becoming a new person that was discovering my own intelligence and even, my own talents.
Seven years later, I am happily married to a guy who loves and adores me. I know my marriage can and will be different from my parents’ disastrous one. Last year, I graduated college with degree in Kinesiology and got accepted to medical school at McMaster University. I’m an aspiring psychiatrist with a desire to help troubled children inspired through my own personal journey of change.
Photo by Victor Bezrukov