Four days ago, I was diagnosed with depression.
There’s something about a diagnosis that is an uneasy calm. While it brings me peace to finally have a word to describe what I’ve been dealing with, I’m scared to embark on this road and to fight this battle I’m new to. I’ve come to learn so much about myself over this last year that “square one” is a square I didn’t want to be in again. Blood tests. New medication. More counseling. All of this, while a gray cloud sits above my head, releasing raindrops every time I try to ignore it.
The thing about depression is it tells you that you’re alone. It tells you that no one is going to want to be by your side, to hold you while you cry, or just to help you out of bed in the morning because you’ve been hiding under the covers for 22 hours, avoiding the world. It tells you that you’re a burden to the people listed as favorites in your contact list, it tells you that you are the sole reason people choose to walk out of your life. It tells you that you’re not enough, unworthy of love.
Depression causes you to have every emotion, yet no emotions at all. I cry over the smallest things, but I’m numb when it comes to things that I care about. The little things that used to light up my heart can’t even make me leave the safeness of my warm blanket under the christmas lights that twinkle on my apartment walls. I love my program of study, but my textbooks remain unhighlighted, my papers unwritten. I sleep at 4 pm, I make cookies at 3 am, sleep is a concept my mind and body just don’t seem to understand anymore. I wear a dress every day hoping that I’ll feel beautiful, but I can’t imagine the word “beautiful” following my name. The simplest everyday things take a world of energy out of me. There’s a weight in my head, keeping it down. I put on a facade, acting like all is well, when I’m actually not okay. I spend each day waiting for its end, so then it can be the next day, so then that day will end too.
My depression builds a wall in my mind when it comes to my future. I cannot picture my wedding, I cannot picture my future home, I cannot even picture the canoe trip I have scheduled two months from now. My depression tells me that there is no reason to be excited about a future. It tells me that the job that I just accepted and that I feel so called to do will be disappointed that they picked me….me. I cannot imagine my future because I feel like the world will give up on me before I get there.
Depression is with you always. You can’t leave your depression on your kitchen counter when you leave your house, you can’t fold it up and slip it into your back pocket when you don’t want to deal with it anymore. Depression is a disorder. It’s real. It’s not a choice, it’s the cold, hard, reality of so many people in this world. And, honestly? It’s so stigmatized. I’m currently working on my senior interdisciplinary research project, focusing on the effect stigma has on college students with mental illnesses. Through this, I am coming to realize just how deep an issue these stigmas are and how, by being open and honest about my truth, I can help end the stigma surrounding my anxiety and my depression. Hopefully, I can show others that suffer that they do not have to justify themselves to the world – the only person they need to prove anything to is the one staring back at them in the mirror.
Depression is not me, I am not my depression. Depression is just one more battle that I will keep fighting until I win one day. I cannot see that day now, as this tunnel feels like a trap without a door, but the faith in my heart knows that God has a plan for me and He is nowhere near finished writing my story. Depression may convince me that I am less because of that one word, but I am not – I am more. I am more than I could have ever imagined, and this battle is in my fight because one day I’ll be able to overcome it. And every day until then and every day after, I will not be ashamed. I will not hide this part of me and I will not be ashamed of my battle, no matter what struggle I may feel.
So, depression, it’s about time I become my own biggest supporter and stop letting you tell me what you think I need. It’s about time I learn how to love myself and to live my life the way He intended – not the way this disorder tells me to live. I may not understand you yet, depression. I don’t know you why you’re here and why I’m afraid you’re here to stay. I may be unsure of how to get through the next day, let alone this mental illness, but I know I will. It’s a battle, but I’ll win my fight one day.