Do you ever have those moments of clarity in which you’re just like, “Yup. I’ve hit rock bottom.”
Those excruciatingly painful moments in life that force you stop in your tracks, slow the fuck down, and reevaluate your entire life and what the hell you’re doing?
I think most of us have had that happen before. Well, it happened to me again on Friday.
Now, I happen to have clinical depression/anxiety, and that’s partially why I’ve hit “rock bottom.” I’ve been dealing with this on and off since I was about 17, and I’m 25 now if that tells you anything. I’m having like, in application development/project management terms (lololol), Phase III, Work Package I of my “Quarter Life Crisis.”
But I’m so fucking beyond sick of hiding it and being ashamed of it. I’ve bottled up my feelings for too long. Writing is therapeutic, and I just need to get a lot of the feels out. If it helps you, then that’s wonderful. If it makes you feel awkward, too bad. The world needs to be more open about mental health issues. As open as they are about cancer. It’s certainly gotten better over time, but people are so still so damn weird about depression and bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.
And again, I am so, so beyond sick of it. I’m sick of hurting so much and I have to get emotions out. So please bear with me. Also, forewarning: adult language ahead. I’d advise against reading this if you’re easily offended.
This post is probably going to have typos, might not be entirely coherent because I’m running on three hours of sleep, and I’m about to get real personal and awkward. But I honestly do not care. It’s time to get raw, and it’s time to get real. And I don’t want to discuss the specifics of my excruciatingly painful, “rock bottom” moment… It’s way too personal and painful to rehash on the Interwebs.
But I just need to open up about my depression. Because it’s been haunting me for far too long, as aforementioned. I bottle up my emotions, I pretend it doesn’t exist, then it all comes crashing down.
And I’ve got to stop doing that. It’s not how I want to live.
So, where do I begin?
Well, let me first describe how depression feels for me personally. A lot of people don’t understand it – and I don’t expect or judge people for not understanding something they have not personally experienced. It truly is something that you have to experience to “get.” It manifests itself differently in every individual who experiences it, so I can only speak for myself. And I’m certainly not trying to speak for anyone else, so please don’t get me wrong there. But I want to talk about my experiences with it.
For those of you who haven’t experienced it (or if you think you might be experiencing but aren’t sure), allow you to share how depression has made its dark mark on my life.
Imagine your worst days: your most ashamed, lacking of self-esteem days, where you feel ugly and stupid. Everyone has days and hours like that, of course. But imagine that being your modis operandi. It is your “normal.” Now, everyone has insecurities, a burden to bear, their skeletons in the closest. I’m fully cognizant and sensitive to that. We all have our battles and our issues. But imagine… imagine that being your every day life. Your normal mode of thinking is to default to self-hatred, and you have no idea why, which makes you even more angry. And it is just this horrible, vicious cycle of going back and forth between hating yourself and feeling sorry for yourself and then feeling bad for feeling that way when you have “no reason” to feel that way.
Depression digs deep, it infects your bones. It becomes a part of you so deeply ingrained that it’s almost too late when you realize it’s plaguing you. Many people don’t realize this, but depression is so physical. People are always like, “oh it’s in your head,” because it’s a “chemical imbalance in your brain.” But it manifests itself like a Dementor from Harry Potter – it sucks the life out of a person without them often being aware of it. Like I said, it infects your bones, it takes over you in the form of fatigue. You become what I can best describe as a “shell of a human being.” My personality? Gone-zo. School and work? Who the hell cares? Baking? What is baking? You’re constantly tired. Your bones often ache. You get irritable bowel syndrome. You just don’t want to function. You don’t want to do anything. That’s how your mind gets into this awful cycle. You become dead on the inside, essentially.
Life becomes one big monotonous, pointless cycle. Nothing matters. Nothing is worth it. Some people claim to have crying fits when they’re depressed, but I find that I don’t cry often. I just get into this self-loathing, apathetic mode where I hate myself and everything around me.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is nothing good in the world, even though I can see it all around me.
I remember being in some of my worst throes of depression my senior year of university, back in fall 2011. When I could actually be bothered to go to class (which was rare, and I used to be a very good student… I was the student that teachers loved having… but I completely stopped giving a shit about everything), I would watch other classmates from afar. It was almost like an out of body experience: I would witness them laughing, talking, carrying on. Enjoying themselves as best as they could for an annoying class on database theory, and I could just not fathom why they were seemingly happy. Of course, I’m sure not all of them were happy. But I could absolutely not understand how they functioned in life. It literally baffled me. Why did they care? Why did they go to class? When I couldn’t understand how everyone else functioned around me, and I completely ceased functioning, that’s when I knew something was terribly wrong. And let me tell you, it is absolutely terrifying. It’s like being above your own body, watching yourself completely crumble from the outside, and knowing (or at least feeling like – there is something you can do – it just takes a shitton of determination and introspection) there is nothing you can do about it. It’s like being a rabbit, having a carrot dangled on a string: you can see everything and everyone around you acting “normal,” and it’s so close. But you can’t touch it. You can’t reach it.
Depression makes you feel like you’ve lost all control, which is rough when you’re a semi-control freak like me. It makes you feel entirely helpless. I could barely function; I would be lucky to take one shower per day, and eat one meal per day. I was completely lost and reckless.
Depression makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on any task. Depression involves a lot of intrusive thoughts. Depression tells me that I am a horrible, ugly, pathetic girl. Depression tells me that I’m always going to be that awkward, twelve year old girl with huge glasses and fucked up teeth. But that’s not true, I know it. We all have our awkward, “fugly” phases. And to some extent, I don’t think that awkward junior high kid will ever leave us. And that’s okay. It is a fact of life that pretty much all of us face, but that doesn’t make us any lesser or “bad” people. It’s all a part of the process, a part of growth. Depression makes me want to sleep my life away. I never personally have had issues with substance abuse, but sleep is totally my drug; it’s “like being dead without the commitment” (morbid, I know). And that’s not exactly healthy after a certain point.
Depression can also manifest itself in ANYONE. I get it – I realize that I live a privileged life, but that doesn’t matter. I know that I have it better than a lot of people. A lot of people don’t “get” how I could possibly be depressed. I’m apparently smart, talented a lot of things, and pretty (although beauty is so subjective anyway). I come from a good family, and I have a good job, an education, a roof over my head, friends, and so much to be grateful for. And believe me, I recognize that, and I am grateful.
But guess what? Depression does not give a flying fuck about what I have or am. Depression doesn’t care what your race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religious beliefs are. It does not care if you’re pretty, if you are overweight, or if you’re thin. It can happen to anyone of any age. And it is so serious. Our society does not take it seriously enough. And I think we need to start. I’ve been fighting it for too long, and I’ve been going to countless counselors, I’ve been on more antidepressants than I can count. I’ve failed classes. I’ve had to take long, hard looks in the mirror.
I am better now, but I still struggle. I still feel the weight of depression and anxiety pulling me down. Even though I have a lot to be happy about, it still plagues me at times.
I’m just so sick of it – I can’t let it overcome me. I want to live a good, happy life. It’s going to take time to get back on track, but I can do it. And if you are struggling, please know that you’re not alone. I know it sounds so cliche and it is so hard to believe when you’re in the worst throes of a mental breakdown. But things do get better, and there is joy to be found in life. Sometimes there is beauty in the breakdown, as that one song says.
Not everyone is going to understand, and unfortunately not everyone will be sympathetic. On the outside, depression makes a person look pretty shitty. It makes me lazy, a sloth, a careless asshole. But that is NOT who I am, and I know that, deep down inside. It’s not who you are, either. Our society places so much value on bullshit, on superficial shit that SERIOUSLY DOES NOT MATTER. It’s good to want to feel good, to be attractive, to look nice, to take care of yourself. It’s 100% okay to be sexual in a setting in which you’re comfortable. It’s more than okay to look at yourself in the mirror, and be like, “Dayum lil mama (or dude), you look GOOD.” But there is so much more to who we are. There is so much more to life, and we would all do well to try to remember that. We need to take care of our bodies. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. I’m so sick of people hating who they are. I hate that I hate who I am, when there’s really a lot to love about me. I hate that depression hurts other people (and myself) so much that it causes them to hurt themselves. Everyone really is unique in their own way, and I wish we could all embrace this more.
I know how incredibly difficult it is to accept and even love yourself. It’s a constant journey, and some of us are better at it than others. But we are all humans, and we are all in this together.
So, all of that rambling aside, I will leave you with some resources.
If you or someone you know (yeah, I know this line has been used over 9,000 times (*100 internets for you if you got that reference, haha), but it’s important) seems to be dealing with some or all of the “textbook symptoms” of depression, please seek help. It’s okay. I know I of all people have wayyyy too much fucking pride, and it’s kind of silly sometimes, really. I hate asking for help. I’m like a two year old – “I do it MYSELF!” But we do not have to do this alone.
I’ve never personally used a suicide hotline, but I hear they’re helpful. You should check them out if you’re feeling down on yourself.
Go to the doctor. If one doesn’t take you seriously, find another who will. Know that there is NOTHING wrong with taking antidepressants. Yeah, I know some of you are like, “LOL that’s just big pharma out to get ya,” but honestly? No, I don’t believe that at all. It’s just like taking blood pressure medication – sometimes a proper diet, exercise, adequate sleep, stress relievers, etc. are not enough. And there is NO SHAME in that at all. You do whatever (healthy) thing you need to do to get back to feeling like “yourself.”
Educate yourself. Don’t let depression tell you who you are (yeah, I know I’m a fine one to be talking, considering I’ve let it chew me up and spit me out multiple times, but again… it’s a process). In fact, it sounds cheesy, but just tell it to – as one of my SIU friends would so eloquently put it – fuck right off. Know the symptoms, know your triggers. For me, it’s a huge amount of change and/or stress that brings on the evil monster known as depression.
Take care of yourself; it certainly helps. Cook and eat well, get enough sleep (I’m looking at you, self!). Do things you love with reckless abandon. I know my baking obsession is dorky, but dude, it’s what I love. Exercise (looking at myself again). Watch a silly video of a cat saying “Yaaaas” that annoys some of my friends but makes me giggle every damn time. Pin inspirational shit on Pinterest. Do it. It’s fun.
Talk to your friends and family. Talk to your counselor. Listen to music. Take a shower. Read a good book. Get a good night’s rest.
It’s still not perfect. I still have bad episodes of freaking out. But it’s gotten better, that much I can honestly say. I know what gets it going, and I know how to stop it – or at least (usually) make it less severe.
If you don’t get it but someone else you know seems to be dealing with something, for goodness’ sake, just be there for them. They may not want your advice, and they certainly do not need you judging them. I realize that a lot of my “problems” are “first world problems,” but that doesn’t invalidate my own journey, my own struggle. And it doesn’t invalidate yours, either.
Your happiness/struggle doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else’s, so it’s okay to recognize that something is off. That you’re unhappy.
And as for antidepressants – yes, they’re complicated. They take time to sort out. It’s not fun at all, and I’ve been through that process a countless number of times. But it’s worth working through until you find the right “cocktail” of medications. If you decide meds just aren’t for you, that’s okay, too. Again, there’s NO SHAME in taking them. I’m on two right now, and I’ll fully admit it. If you don’t like it? Well, I dunno what to tell you. That’s like, your problem, man. I’m doing what’s best for me, and if that means I need an antidepressant to help level things out, then so be it.
Okay, I’m done rambling.
I just realized that this post is over 2,400 words. Wowza. I probably just broke WordPress.
I’m sure a lot of this did not seem coherent, but I guess I will just leave you with this…
If you’re suffering, please reach out.
If you know someone who is suffering, please don’t dismiss them. Depression is real. We cannot “snap out of it.” And it hurts a lot, especially when people don’t understand or say hurtful things.
I hope that eventually we as a human race can figure out depression. It’s so complex, and yet it’s so common it’s not even funny (not that it is funny to begin with, but ya know). It is extremely pervasive in the U.S., and there a number of theories on why this is… I don’t know why it happens; all I know is that I want it to stop. And it won’t ever fully go away, but I just want all of us humans to support each other. I’m like Man Kind on that old NES wrastlin’ game… Can’t we all just get along? We need to stick together. We have to get past this.
We have so much to do and enjoy about life, and we can’t let depression lie to us like that. It’s a piece of dog shit. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst high school enemy. But again, we will get past it.
I know my blog is all baking and cheer most times, but this is me being honest. Again, I’m rambling a lot, but I just needed to get this out.
Thanks for listening… err, reading. If you have any questions or comments or concerns about depression or anxiety, PLEASE TALK TO ME. I, unfortunately, have been through it too many times. It sucks a big one, but luckily it also makes me knowledgeable and able to help others. Which is kind of like a blessing in disguise.
Know that you’re worth it. Know that you’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re important.
People do love you. I love you. I love baking, and I love sharing that with others. I’m strong enough to get past my demons, and if I can do it, then clearly you can too.
I love you all. I will be okay.
So will you.
Hug your friends and family; tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them you love them. Life is wayyy too short for being unhappy and being an asshat to others.