I refer to my depression as the dark. My dark place. It’s the only description that seems to do it any justice, because my mind can go to a very dark place.
Every time I come out of “the dark”, and I feel happiness or
hope again, I have the bad habit of feeling invincible. As if I have conquered my mental illness for the final time and I won’t ever have to go though it again. This is setting myself up for disaster, every time.
After my first post, I felt invincible. Being completely honest about who I am was something I had been wanting to do for a long time, although I didn’t always know that. Most of my adolescent years consisted of wanting to be perfect. To be liked by everyone. I really believed people would look down on me if they knew the truth, my truth. When I had the intense conversation with my Grandmother that I wrote about in my first post, it opened my eyes to a lot of things. One of them being how often I was secretly craving those around me to know my truth. I started looking back through my memory at the years I have been battling depression and anxiety. I have been dealing with anxity for as long as I can remember, my earliest memory of it was when I was 4 years old. Depression came later on. My first experience with depression came when I was 15 years old. I went through a depressed state that lasted for a little over three months (maybe more) when I was 15. Thankfully my Mother took immediate action when she recognized the signs and connected me with doctors, a counselor, and a psychiatrist. Now looking back, I can remember so many times where I was so desperate for people to know my truth, to know how I was really feeling deep down and what I was dealing with. I came across so many circumstances in my memory (too many to list) where I was struggling and thought if only people knew, they would cut me a break, understand me. I thought perhaps people may even love me more. I have come a long way when it comes to how I view mental illnesses. There where times when I truly believed I was just a damaged soul, that I was just not strong willed enough to deal with the normal hardships of life like others where. Luckily, I had parents and family members that were 100% supportive of me, and were there to share their own stories with me, to council me, to stand by me and tell me that depression and anxiety are very much so REAL and I was not abnormal. In fact, I have a ton of family members (living and deceased) that have a history with mental disorders. When I learned that certain mental illnesses can be genetic, it made things a lot easier for me. I started to cut myself some slack. I do not know where I would be today if this wasn’t the case.
I am me. And I really am starting to love myself, to accept who I am. Mental illnesses do not define me, but I deal with them OFTEN. Small steps are still steps and I have been able to breathe more easily knowing that any progress is good progress. My grandmother on my Father’s side always tells me “If you take 10 steps forward and three back, you still have those 7 steps.” I always feel so defeated if I have a week of good days and then have an anxiety attack or feel depressed. Why are we so hard on ourselves?
If I have learned anything, it’s that the light always comes again. The world certainly never stops spinning, although it can definitely feel like it. I am not ashamed that I describe my depression as my dark place, because in all honesty it is a lot more harsh than I can put into words. I can go through my dark KNOWING for certain that the light will come again. And I am finding more ways to keep that light with me, burning brighter each time.