My Depression Story
Let me start this off by saying that my intentions in sharing my story with depression is to let you all know that you aren't alone. Having a mental illness does not make you any less of a person than someone without.
My depression began half way through my freshman year in college, though at the time I didn't know what it was. I started to feel like I was on an emotional roller coaster that I couldn't get off. I was happy a lot of the time, but always with an underlying sadness that I couldn't shake. This was also around the time that I started taking birth control and I mention that purely because I believe that it was a main catalyst in my decent into darkness.
Back in high school and throughout my childhood I was an eternal optimist, always very positive and happy. And no I didn't have a perfect childhood, I actually had a challenging one that made me grow up very quickly. But nevertheless, I was happy. When I really began to get bad was in Sophomore year of college. I had everything, the guy, the apartment, the job, the grades, and also depression. This was the year that I started self harming. I won't go into details, but it obviously was not good. The thing with depression is that it's this crazy oxymoron. You feel everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. I self harmed to feel something, even if that something was pain. I grew to believe that I deserved nothing better than that pain despite all the amazing things and people I had in my life.
Stuck In The Middle:
Speaking of amazing people in my life, my husband and I were dating all throughout this time. And in case you don't personally know Jordan, he is the most amazing man you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. He's the kind of guy that would lasso the moon for me (It's A Wonderful Life anyone?), and in so many ways he has, like when he wanted to get me a cat (Mushi) to help me through my down days. For all 4.5 years I struggled he was the only person that knew what I was going through. He was my rock, but he was also my punching bag. One of the worst parts of depression is how it effects the people closest to you.
The last two years of college were much the same as Sophomore year. Depression was effecting my social life more and more. I had no confidence and had an increasingly hard time connecting with anyone. But the worst was still yet to come. After we graduated, Jordan & I packed up our life and moved to Los Angeles. It was the most exciting time building our new life together. But you guessed it, depression came a knocking and I started to spiral more than ever before. Our first year here was filled with so much fun, but matched with so much turmoil. The self harming became more frequent and I started to become fed up with feeling so worthless.
I still remember the night I decided I wanted to do whatever I could to put an end to my depression. I had been in my bathroom crying all night, hitting the rockiest rock bottom and for some reason I felt like I needed to pray in that moment. I don't consider myself "religious", I don't go to church, but I have always believed in the Christian God. I prayed that he would help give me strength and guide me out of this dark place and bring me into the light of day again. I wasn't cured the same moment by some miracle, but I did choose to stop self harming in that moment. And since that night, I never did it again. My wounds are now faded scars that I wear like a warrior.
Picking Up The Pieces:
Coming out of my depression was not easy by any means. It took a lot of hard work and mental strength that I didn't know I had. I stopped taking the birth control of doom, I told my parents via FaceTime what I had been going through, and I started what I call a happiness journal. I couldn't watch anything negative or sad, including news, for a matter of months. I liked to stick to anything funny and also watched a lot of kids shows on The Disney Channel. It seems a little strange, but my mental state was extremely fragile at that point and I was afraid of slipping back. I struggled through a lot of days where I wanted to revert back to my old ways, but I never gave in. I also found that I had developed anxiety for a while. It was hard to go from being so numb, to feeling every emotion and learning to deal with them in a more productive way.
Another hard part of depression that people don't often talk about is how terrifying it is to tell people close to you what you have been going through. When explaining my struggle I was met with a lot of reactions that were less than ideal. I was told to "get over it", I was called stupid, I even had people say things that basically boiled down to them thinking I was just a jealous bitch, but nope I just had depression and I guess that made them feel better? My insight on these reactions is that they happen when people don't empathize, understand, or are afraid themselves of what you've been through. Mental health can be a scary topic, but talking about it is the best thing you can do and normalizing these conversations is extremely important. I personally didn't seek professional help, but I do believe it is a very important part of recovering. Some things that really helped me get back to happy that I still do today:
- Having a support system to talk to (aka Jordan & Mushi).
- Writing happy moments in my happiness journal to look at when I feel down.
- Making sure I get enough rest, food, and water.
- Working out- this started as yoga at home, then the fitness mode on Dance Central 2 for Xbox (lol), and now I use a phone app called Seven (I'll never be the gym type!).
- Doing things that encourage happiness and cutting out the negativity.
- Going out and having fun in the sun!
I can finally say that I've made it back to that optimistic and happy person I was as a child, except 1000 times better! That's not to say that life is a walk in the park now a days. In fact, I've had to deal with a lot of challenges in the past few years that are far worse than anything I dealt with while I had depression. I mean, if I told you this stuff you'd think I was making it up, it's like a Lifetime movie turned reality. I've had down days and emotional roller coasters, but it's different now, I'm stronger, and I credit my experience with depression for that. I have a renewed sense of life bursting from my seams that feels like I've just seen color for the first time after living in a black and white world.
I'm a firm believer that we go through the things we do in life to help and be there for others. My hope is that telling my story will help even just one person feel less alone in their struggles. If you are dealing with mental illness, please seek professional help and find family or friends that can support you through it. Never for a second be ashamed of what you are going through, the help that you seek, or any medication you may need. Instead be proud of the mental health warrior you are and the steps you're taking to fight it head on!