I have always struggled to articulate my depression, so I’ve resigned myself to referring to it as ‘blue’ or ‘sad’ or ‘low’ but none of those words do it justice, they don’t express the internal suffering that disables your mind and your body. Depression is shit. It’s confusion and fear and emptiness and hopelessness all mixed together topped with a little bit of self loathing for good measure. It’s waking up on a beautifully sunny morning and knowing you have to get out of bed but your mind won’t let you.
It started when I was about 14 and since then I’ve seen numerous councillors, I have cried my eyes out in my doctors room more times than I’d care to share, I have cried to my mum asking her again and again, “what’s the matter with me?” and then again on my own for hours on end. It is one of the most frustrating and scariest feelings in the world when you know you are not okay but you don’t know how to fix yourself and the people who love you don’t know how to fix you either. It’s not as easy as getting a prescription and swallowing a couple of pills, it takes time, patience and an unbelievable amount of willpower to lift yourself out of a dark place.
Over the last 7 years I have learnt a couple of things and I think they’re pretty important to share. Do I think my depression is behind me? No, but at the same time I have finally came to the conclusion that I do not need to be fixed, because I am not broken. Depression is a part of me that I will not be defined by but I will also not push it to the side so that it culminates in a worse ending. I will have bad days, bad weeks. But that’s okay.
Sometimes I need to take a day. It’s my mental health and I need to look after it. Push everything to the side to do the things I need to do, I write lists. I turn my phone down, mute group chat and ignore any texts. I need to eat well and force myself out of my bed to get some fresh air or do some yoga. I avoid any alcohol until I know that I’m back on form. Think of it like this, when you feel a cold coming, you may pick you clothes a little more wisely, sleep more, drink some fluids and try to get a bit of Vitamin C. It’s with this same care that you should be treating your mental health.
“The people with the biggest smiles have the saddest hearts.”
Or whatever that silly quote is. Ask any of my close friends and family, I’m always smiling and laughing, life’s too short not to be happy. But you need to remember that sometimes when your mind is sad you don’t need to smile, you don’t have to smile. The pressure that you put on yourself to be happy only makes the fall a million times worse. It is okay to stop pretending to those around you and most importantly yourself that you’re okay when you’re not.
Used in a sentence ellipses can indicate a slight pause. Eight months ago I got an ellipsis tattooed on the side of my left wrist. It’s there as a reminder to myself that even if I have bad days, weeks, months, semesters, maybe even years, life goes on and I have to go with it.
Articulate your suffering in a way that emancipates yourself and empowers others.
In light of Mental Health Awareness week I thought it was only fair to share a tiny insight into my experiences.