Ever since I hit puberty, I have suffered from depression and social anxiety. My social anxiety was so bad I used to hide in the bathrooms to eat my lunch when I was in high school. I used to back away when someone would stand beside me. I used to hide behind my phone and my headphones to avoid any conversation or avoid overhearing anything anyone might be saying about me.

You see, something happened to my body when I hit puberty. People started to tell me I stink. Not just in a casual, helpful way. No, they said it in the most destructive and creative ways. To this day, I still don’t know what happened to me or why people think this about me. I’ve been to doctors, taken pills, tried new diets, changed my soaps, and bought prescription hygiene products. I tortured myself trying to solve my little problem.

I hid from everyone including friends and family. I would replay people’s cruel words or actions over and over again in my mind until I couldn’t function from all the crying. I would watch people obsessively, trying to gauge their reactions to me.

Do they think I stink? Are they breathing out of their nose? What is wrong with me?

My husband was terrified, and he didn’t know what to do. He was scared I was going to do something I could not come back from.

I’m not going to lie. I thought about it.

I didn’t think of killing myself, per se. No, I would just have these dark thoughts like, “I wish this would just end” or “I am not going to get any peace from this until I die.” It was pretty bad for a long time.

Then I got pregnant. Suddenly, my life wasn’t about just me anymore. My depression affected this little boy who depended on me.

I can still remember the day I decided to fight these demons for him.

I was working as a security guard at the front desk of some business offices. It was a good job for a pregnant lady. I had just let someone inside the building, and they had started walking away. Suddenly the visitor stopped and looked over to the co-worker who had come to collect them.

“It stinks in here,” the visitor said. He made sure to look over his shoulder at me.

“It always does when she is here,” the co-worker replied. Smirking, they both walked away.

I remember sitting at that desk for the longest time. I was fighting the tears pretty hard. I could feel myself slipping back down into that familiar feeling of self-loathing. I was close to losing it.

But then the best thing happened. My son kicked.

That little kick pulled me back. It made me pause. It gave me time to remind myself that there was a new life that needed me. He didn’t need a mother who was depressed all the time. He didn’t need a mother who had days when she couldn’t even function.

He needed a mother who would laugh with him and play. He needed a mother who could take care of him.

I decided right then that I was going to do everything in my power to be that woman for my son. I refused to take my son down with me.

From that point on, I’ve made a tremendous effort in controlling my reactions to others. I refuse to allow my mind to linger on their horrible words.

I can’t make people stop saying that I stink. I can’t make people stop doing the mean things they do. I can, however, change myself.

Through sheer determination, I have accepted that this is a part of my story. I don’t know why, and I may never know. Stinky is a part of me. Through accepting her, I have found a sense of freedom. I have figured out a way to change my way of thinking.

When I find myself slipping into those old patterns, I think of my son. I force myself to push those other thoughts out. I’ve had to do this less and less.

Don’t get me wrong. These feelings and these thoughts are still there. I have good days and bad days. I slip up sometimes, and there have been days when I have given in. That doesn’t matter, though. The next day is a new slate, and I begin again.

Because of my love for my son, I am fighting my inner demons every day. And, I am kicking their ass.

Christina Nelson

I am a wife to my high school sweetheart and the mother of a rambunctious little boy. Photography is my life! I run a photography business, an etsy store for photographers, and a blog called The Educated Shutter http://www.theeducatedshutter.com/. If you can't find me behind the camera, my nose is probably stuck inside a Harry Potter book.