I am independent and free. If you could take anything from this story let it be this, be proactive about what you want and how you feel when it comes to a mental illness. Depression is real and although others may mock you or say its not don’t let that bring you down even more. Find the strength within to fight.
Most of us, or possibly all of us with depression are not looking to hear any advice, the million reasons why we shouldn’t be depressed, or opinion about how to snap out of it. What I want when I’m depressed is to sit next to me, put your arms around me and say “I’m sorry, this sucks. But you are not alone.”
I can’t miss a single day of medication, or else I spiral into darkness. Is it worth it? Definitely. Life is so beautifully complex, and without the darkness I would not appreciate the sunlight. Sometimes I feel like my emotional dial is turned all the way up. I feel things so much more powerfully, my world is a prismatic collage of sharply vibrant colors, some intensely dark, some pulsating with life and light, and everyday is a new challenge, learning how to navigate through a sea of torrid emotions. I am grateful for my life.
It is normal to be sad, we are human. A little sadness is what keeps us balanced. The thing is I was sad most of the time. I was sad starting at such a young age. You’re not supposed to feel that way from your earliest memories. I stopped speaking up about it because I was constantly told it was the way I was supposed to feel.
Often, I treat the bed as if it were a life raft, and the floor an ocean, teaming with sharks. It is laughable how safe the world I create really is. My little life raft. I line up my meds, my remote control, my phone, my laptop and my coffee on the night side table. This way, I am only an arm’s reach away from my survival gear. This is not the way I always live, but it is my default-mode when depression is particularly strong.
So sure, it’s okay now that people are open now about being depressed, or bipolar or having any mental illness. As long as we don’t discuss the details that could make other people uncomfortable. Most companies are required to provide the necessary legal measures for people with mental illness. While friends and family hold your hand when you cry and understand you don’t want to see them for months at a time when you’ve locked yourself in your house. But nobody wants to hear the true details of the horrors behind the illness. And everybody with a mental illness has a book chock-full of these details from the depths of depression to the pure insanity of mania and everything in between.
Our culture is changing in regards to its view of mental illness, but we have a long way to go. There will be people who don’t understand. People who say the wrong thing whether out of spite or malice. If you let fear of what they will say dictate your life, then in a way stigma wins. I will teach my daughter that it is the people who love you that matter. The people who are there for you when you feel empty and tired are the ones who have earned the right to speak to your heart.
I wasn’t diagnosed with having panic attacks/anxiety until the age of 13. Since then, I’ve been on and off different medications and therapy for this. But in my opinion, nothing helps more than the medication & counseling. One without the other doesn’t cut it for me unfortunately that’s how bad it is for me. I can’t even experience ‘good stress’ as in going away on a vacation, going to a friend’s wedding, waiting to see one of my favorite bands.
I only disclosed my diagnosis to maybe 2 or 3 people and even then I didn’t explain the extent of the situation. I was constantly trying to prove that I was just a normal happy girl, even though I was dying inside. Last year, I decided to stop fighting it. I disclosed my diagnosis to all of my family and friends and was both humbled and surprised by the amount of support that I received. This was the best decision I could have ever made. Now that I am able to be open and honest about my diagnosis, I feel like I can live my true self. I can show the world the real me.
I have come to know more people who suffer in these shadowed places, friends and family who ache with the pressing waves of anxiety and depression and what comes to feel like shame in the suffering. And I ache to help relieve them. May this place and the people here help you find peace and a joy that can wrap around you when you begin to feel overwhelmed. We stand with you.