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Brianna Share Story

Back from the Dead

I was depressed and even suicidal through much of my childhood. But David Lawrence Center gave me hope and showed me what it means to be alive.

By Brianna

How’s this for ironic: I felt like I’d finally found new life at last . . . when I made a movie about the undead. And I owe it all to David Lawrence Center.

I promise, it makes sense. Let me explain . . .

Throughout much of my childhood and my teens, I didn’t like life very much. I wanted to be dead from a very young age. Even as early as 7 years old, I was haunted by suicidal thoughts.

My home life didn’t make things any easier. It was pretty chaotic all the time, and one of my sisters, who had cerebral palsy, died when I was 10 and she was 13. It was pretty traumatic.

On top of all that, I have clinical depression. I didn’t know that until recently, so it went unchecked and untreated for years.

By the time I was in my teens, I was self-medicating through substance abuse. There was a time where I had to be on something just to get out of bed.

Things had gotten so bad by the time I was 17, my mom decided I needed help, so she took me to David Lawrence Center. All I can say is that they brought me back from the brink, especially Dr. Emily Williams, a psychiatrist. She literally saved my life.

That’s when I learned that I had a chemical imbalance that was contributing to my depression and anxiety. It was actually a relief to learn that. It was like someone said, “Hey, it’s not your fault you’re feeling this way.” I was born with just a bit of a biological tweak in me. And you know what? That’s okay. So from then on, I’ve been on the right medications, and that’s helped a lot in my journey back to enjoying life.

Practice is everything

Over the next few years, I worked closely with my therapist, Molly Modzelewski, and that’s made all the difference. She taught me that I had more control over my feelings than I thought.

She introduced me to different types of meditation. I didn’t like them at first, because I was still holding onto a lot of sadness. There were still things I needed to flush out, you know?

But practice is everything. And failure is everything. So I stuck to the meditations, and I got better at it. I started to see that I felt good when I’d meditate. And that I felt better when I ate well. And that I felt better when I got exercise. It was like a chain reaction.

It’s like they gave me tools, but if you don’t put them to use, you will gain nothing. You’ve got to work at it. You can’t just go and sit in the gym and say, “I went to the gym today.” You’ve got to get on the treadmill; you’ve got to lift some weights. You’ve still got to work.

You have to apply yourself, and that’s the hardest step. But it’s so worth it!

I’ve been able to work through a lot of the pain I had blocked off, and reached a place where I could let go of all that negative energy. Eventually, I started to feel like I had some self-control. I finally reached a point where I was like, “Okay, where do I go from here?”

Now I’m 20 and a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, majoring in communications with a focus in public relations. I had won a little film contest in high school, and now my major gives me an opportunity to use camera — both from behind and from in front.

Which brings me to my movie about the undead. (I told you we’d eventually get there.)

One of my courses had a theme of the zombie apocalypse, and one assignment was to make an original film. I really poured myself into that, day and night, for about three months. I wrote the script. I did the story board. I directed and acted in it. And I brought along some friends to be in it too, and they totally got into it.

We all had so much fun on the project, it was such a good feeling. I felt like a new person, better than I’d ever felt. I was so grateful, I didn’t even care what the final product was going to be like.

But guess what? We entered our little project — a nine-minute movie called Lawless—in a film festival at school, and it won Best Picture. When I was introduced to give my winning speech, I was smiling cheek to cheek.

I just stood up there and said, “What’s up? I’m Brianna. Thank you so much. This is awesome!”

And that’s pretty much how I feel about life these days. Thank you, David Lawrence Center!

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