Depression First Hand
#BellLetsTalk used to be one of the most uncomfortable days of the year for me. The endless tweets and retweets about checking in on your friends and knowing the signs of an anxiety attack terrified me. I mean, I still participated and used the filters like a “woke” person of my generation would, but it was all just an act. This time around, I’ve decided that I’m trading in the sharades for a more genuine look at mental illness. Here is a small part of my ongoing journey.
Coming to terms with mental illness can be extremely difficult. You think you’ve seen every symptom and faced every challenge when, suddenly, a whole new layer is revealed. One of the biggest issues I face when it comes to my own mental illness is the unknown. For instance, if you get a stomach flu you know it will eventually come to and end. You’ll rest, take your medication, and eventually feel normal again.
Depression is a completely different beast. I can get eight hours of sleep every night, take the antidepressants prescribed by my doctor, eat well, exercise regularly and still suffer. However, I’ve also gone through periods when I didn’t feel depressed at all. I’m happy, productive, and genuinely feeling better. It becomes almost unthinkable that I could ever go back to that dark place.
But sometimes, without there even being an easily identifiable reason, I do. I’m suddenly back in the darkness. The heavy feeling has made its home in my chest once again, and now I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be okay.
When I first started experiencing this up and down I didn’t know how to deal. I’d feel like my depression was gone forever, and when it would come back, I’d feel like a complete failure. I felt like I was failing my friends, my family and ultimately, myself. I couldn’t understand why I kept going through this cycle. Why couldn’t I just always be okay?
To this day I do not know the answer to that question. I might never know why I can’t just be “okay,” whatever that means. But, what I have learned is that depression and a stomach flu cannot be compared. There’s no way for me to miraculously be “cured”.
That truth scares me almost more than anything. However, I still believe it will always be better than the lies I used to tell myself.
So, that’s where I’m at right now. I know it may not sound like much but accepting this reality has saved my life. I’ve learned to seek help when the lows are getting the best of me. I’ve learned that I deserve to enjoy all the happiness that I possibly can.
Even if my story is nothing like yours, I hope it can help you in some way. You are never required to share your mental health journey, but if you do, I hope you consider the power of what happens when we share our stories with honesty.