The past few days have shown me that it is a very difficult thing to have ambition coexist with depression. The electricity that comes with working towards your horizon can barely make it past of the shadow of this strange darkness in your bones. Like calcium, it forms and it hardens, concreting itself into your DNA. All of the sadness and the anxiousness and my lying senses will always be some part of me, even if it’s not meant to.
The hard truth of the matter is that I need to find a way to coexist with that other side. And some days, like the past couple of days, I will fail. Some days my bones will turn to iron and chain me to the closet and I won’t want to come out again. The rest of the time I’ll be working, racing against the clock until the moment my shadow overtakes me and I gain the weight of the sun. Until then, I can carry my world.
When I was going through high school, I wore a lot of black. Now, I don’t mean I look like I fucked Edward Scissorhands on the daily, but you could typically find me sporting darker, duller colors. I don’t remember when this started, what I do remember is noticing that I could blend into the background so much easier with a black shirt rather than a bright green one.
It’s safe to say I was an outcast in school. I had a couple of friends, I really didn’t need an entourage, and I kept to myself. I was the kid who sat in the very back seat, headphones drowning out my fellow classmates, and a book shoved into my face. It’s also helpful to know that I weighed one hundred pounds on a good day, and had the worst case of resting bitch face, so it was easy to avoid unwanted interactions. I didn’t want people noticing me or talking to me, I wanted to be as close to the edge of everyone’s radar as I possible could. I had my fair share of bullies, but I wasn’t bullied into invisibility, I just preferred to be unseen.
Fast forward three years and you have present-day Melissa. You would think with all of my mental health problems I’ve had since then that my closet would just get darker and darker. But I think, somewhere along the way, I found that I liked color. All the different shades of blue, and green, and purple, they all have their own feel to them. I liked looking at the clothes I was wearing and seeing reds and yellows. Maybe its a way to make myself feel better when I am depressed, or maybe its a way to drown out all that darkness inside me. Either way, I’m not in the background anymore. I can walk through a hallway wearing bright and warm colors and not shy away from the people that look. I’m beginning to hide myself less. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an introvert through and through, but at least now I’m visible. And if that’s the only progress from the past three years, that’s okay because its a foundation that I can build on.
I suppose that if I want to write about mental health and awareness then I should go into my own mental head space a tad. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving you every excruciating detail of the fun that is learning you have a mental illness. This is more of a brief summary.
I always thought I had depression and anxiety throughout high school but had never talked to anyone or been diagnosed. During my year at college, my depression seemed to worsen until I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, and I definitely wasn’t going to any of my classes. While I was used to what it felt like to be depressed, I started to experience things I never had before. I noticed quiet whispers in my ears when no one was around. Dark, blurry figures would dance around the corners of my eyes. I began having strange thoughts about people trying to “get” me. When I eventually dropped out towards the end of the semester and returned to living with my parents, I told them nothing about what was going on. I got a job, I tried to get through each day, and pretended like nothing was wrong.
Of course, that never works.
My parents eventually found out, which was not my decision but that is a story for another day, and decided to take me to the ER. I was hospitalized for six days and diagnosed with major depressive disorder with psychotic features, generalized anxiety, and PTSD. Life after a diagnosis is confusing. I was ashamed of my own brain and I didn’t really tell a lot of people. It is something that I’ve struggled to accept about myself since then and it’s something I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. I have a long way to go, but I know that I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at.
Although it’s the extremely shortened version of the story, you got all the big pieces of information. Along the way I’ll probably sprinkle in some more details, but that’s all you get for now!
I’ve noticed something that I unconsciously do, and I wondered if anyone else experiences this. Sometimes, all of the chemicals in my brain that usually don’t even show up somehow get their shit together, and I feel like a normal person. I’m not anxious, I don’t feel like I’m walking underwater, and I can see a future for myself again. Sometimes, when I feel like this, I start to question why I feel so great. I start to doubt if I’m happy or just suffering some mental breakdown that I’m not even aware of. Before long, all of those chemicals that were working so hard and so well can no longer keep up. I essentially think myself into becoming “bad” again.
What I mean when I say bad is anything that comes to your mind when you think of mental illness. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar, schizophrenia, whatever comes to your mind when you think of mental illnesses. I’ll go into specifics of my experience in a future post.
But I realized that I could think myself into becoming depressed again. This was one of the first times that I realized that I can influence my own mental health. That I can, sometimes – not all of the time, change how I feel. In this case, I was negatively influencing my mood. So who’s to say I can’t positively influence them as well?
Learning coping mechanisms can actually help you in the future. Whether that’s breathing exercises, drawing, driving, exercising your actual body, or even listening to music, learning to cope with your specific diagnosis can help get you through those bad days.
Comment and let me know what your favorite coping mechanism is!