For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling like my old self. Not the good kind of old self, but the self-destructive and self-sabotaging self. I’ve been having a hard time coping with, well everything and having a harder time being around people even the people who mean the most to me. But as of late, I feel like I’m drowning, and I recognized the old, familiar, feeling…My depression is back.
I have struggled with clinical depression since I was about 16 years old, and I’ve had bouts that have been really bad, where I even tried to harm myself. As a black woman and offspring of the Caribbean parents, their immediate response was to tell me “to snap of it” and “get over it”. My parents are educated people, more open minded than some other Caribbean folks I’ve had the pleasure of avoiding and depression to them was (at the time) a”white people thing” that really only applied to the lazy and the unambitious. I was well taken care of, I had a very comfortable life, so what’s there to be depressed about?! And obviously, my 16-year old brain agreed with them. I was swimming in DB and Coach purses, going to private school and driving a nice car. There was nothing to be depressed about…
But that feeling, that cinder-blocks-tied-to-your-ankles feeling. The one where I felt like I was drowning while standing perfectly still. No matter how little or how big the uncomfortable situation got, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to move on from it. The need to hide from the world, to sleep and basically never wake up, was something that resounded in my mind everyday, and true to form I didn’t tell anyone. I kept everything to myself and found a coping mechanism for my depression: anorexia. The loss of control I felt with depression was countered by the control I exerted over my body with what I didn’t eat.
I’ve dealt with a lot of issues concerning my mental and physical health, but as most people with depression know, there will be a lifelong battle. This is something that I will have to deal with the rest of my life, and will affect absolute everything in my life while I’m going through it. There is still a stigma and and there so many who still don’t understand that it’s not just a passing feeling or a frame of mind. And for me that’s the biggest hurdle of them all, how do you explain this to someone who doesn’t believe that depression is a real and complex illness?
I now have the knowledge to deal with my depression in much less destructive way. The last dark cloud period was 3 years ago and it caused me to leave everything my life behind and put myself in environment that was conducive to fortifying my mental health . I can be honest and say that I’m struggling with it at this very moment. It’s not fucking easy, but I’m managing. I have days where I barely want to leave my house, but I get up and do it somehow. I have days where I can’t talk to anyone because I’m afraid that if I even open my mouth, I will not stop crying.
Some may classify this as complaining or bitching, and to some degree, I’ve said the same thing to myself as well, even when my mind knows that it’s not the truth. What’s really hard for me at the moment, is making it through the next hour without having self-deprecating or harmful thoughts. It’s a continuous struggle and I’m doing what I can to make sure that my mental health is being looked after. Whether through medication or diet and exercise, I’m doing my part to make sure that I utilize all the help at my disposal. Even through all this, the love that I have for myself hasn’t disappeared, in fact I think with all the progress I’ve made in the last few years, I want to fight even more than ever to not backslide, but also to continue to be kind to myself even if my mind is telling me otherwise.
*Illustration by Brad Amorosino*