well, that title about sums up the entire premise of this post – but it feels necessary to write. only a sentence in and the words to write this are already hard to find, because there’s no easy way to talk about any of it. but that’s why it’s necessary to talk about.
i am currently 19 years old, and since i can physically remember knowing what depression was, ive known that i suffered from it.
i remember being in 7th grade, and already at that age, looking up the symptoms in my bedroom of depression and anxiety and feeling the familiar build in my chest at the realization of something i didn’t want to admit to myself was true.
only crazy people are depressed. my thoughts and problems aren’t worthy of a therapists time – these are the kind of things that everyone goes through – they have real problems to worry about.
i was vehemently against telling anyone that i was depressed. i didn’t want to tell my parents how bad the bads really got, because they saw my good. they saw me succeed, they saw me push myself, they saw me happy. they saw the class president, the team captain. my friends saw that too. as did friends, other parents, peers, teachers, you name it. acting like i had my shit together on the outside got to the point where it was so easy that even as an 8th grader, not even able to drive yet, sometimes i forgot too what was just under the surface.
because the roller coaster usually didn’t stop once it started going down. sad wasn’t just sad, it was debilitating. when the spells hit, they lasted days and weeks. and they typically came with the same panic attacks that i wouldn’t even admit to being panic attacks until years later, the disinterest, the paranoia, the loss of appetite, etc., but they also came with the thoughts.
you all know what thoughts i mean. the “what if’s”, the “maybes”, the numerous “whys”. i remember laying in bed on so many occasions working myself into a panic attack, with the recurring thought of why can i not be normal ringing through my ears.
this is not normal. other 14, 15, 16 year olds do not do this. why do i do this.
and after that, the guilt, because after all, i really had no right to feel this way. i was class president, i was invited to sleepovers, i had people that wanted to sit by me at lunch. boys always liked me, my Facebook posts got like, 30 likes (because in 2012 that was the epitome of popularity), and i played on the a-team for volleyball. i was literally everything i could’ve put myself up to be & this was still my reality, laying in bed at 3 am on a wednesday sobbing uncontrollably for a reason entirely indescribable.
and it wasn’t always 3 am on a wednesday. sometimes it was 2 pm on a monday, or after a good game, or walking down the hallway on any insignificant day. what they don’t tell you is that depression doesn’t give you a warning. there is no “ring for service” bell and it waits in a comfy chair, reading magazines until you’re in the comfort of your room, alone, and at least somewhat prepared to deal with it.
no, this is not depression. it barges in during science class and you have to excuse yourself to the restroom because you can literally feel the panic attack escaping from your chest. you feel it in church, in the locker room, getting ready for school, and getting ready for bed. you can feel it anywhere, at any time, and it does not apologize for interrupting, because depression is the ultimate consumer.
of happiness, of futures, of love, and of lives.
depression has robbed me again and again, for years. depression still continues to pick pocket me, just as a reminder to never forget it’s presence. there are still days that it gets the upper hand, and to lie would be saying that i have lived through days where i didn’t believe it would ultimately win the game. but to this day, it hasn’t. and to this day, it is the hardest damn game i have ever played in.
at 19 years old, i have suffered from depression and anxiety since at least the age of 14, formally being diagnosed as a sophomore in high school. since this point in my life, i have taken medication to assist with my depression and anxiety. this is something that i have been incredibly ashamed to share for the last 4 years, because in a way it still felt like a loss. i didn’t really get over it on my own. finally, am i coming around the idea that this has been the opposite of a loss. it has been an important step towards the most important win.
every day is a battle. numerous days go by sometimes without hiccup, while sometimes the same happens in regards to the bad. and i will be the first to tell you that i know it is not easy to talk. it isn’t easy to reach out, but it is worth it. as someone who feels this stuff every day of my life, when someone reaches out to me, the last thing i think is anything negative. i want to wrap them in the biggest hug in the world and remind them how much i love them, how much everyone loves them. i want to remind them how many dogs there are to pet in this world and how many funny videos there are to find on facebook and how beautiful sunflowers are and what it smells like outside right after it rains and how big their grandmas smile is when they come in the house and how if they weren’t here they wouldn’t get those beautiful little moments that make all of the rest worth it. these are your weapons in this battle, found in the most unlikely of places. this little “island-of-misfit-toys-like” compilation of happinesses has literally saved my life. find yours. find it, write it down, keep it in your pocket, hang it on your fridge, and read it every god damn day.
you can win this fight. you will have set back and little victories alike. you can and you will cross mountains and valleys, and you will come out the other side. whether it be skipping, running, walking, or crawling, you will come out the other side. we will come out the other side.
to all that feel the radiating effects of depression & anxiety in so many countless ways, i love you. i don’t even know you, & i love you. i am rooting for you from the very bottom of my heart. i implore you in every way, stay.