Speaking out about my depression has been a tough road. I have struggled with my battle pretty much my entire life. It isn’t something that developed because of an incident, unless it was something that happened when I was very young that I cannot remember. There has been highs and lows in my life, in the last couple of years I have really been struggling to cope. This is why I began this journey to try to reach a point in my life where I can be accepting and not let it win anymore.
However, talking about it has been liberating but very, very scary. I find it very hard to talk my way through an anxiety attack. I find it easier to hide my emotions; instead of talking I will put my energy into completing tasks. This way, I don’t have to talk, I have control of the task and the achievement that comes with completing it helps me feel as though I am back in the driver’s seat, even just for a little while. What I have to remember, I am always in the driver’s seat. I am in control of my emotions and actions.
But, sometimes, you want to talk. You want to get what is in your head out and scream it from the rooftops. You want to share your heart with your loved ones, I mean, they are the ones who are supposed to be always there for you no mater what right?
Well, perhaps in a perfect world, this is how it would be. I would love to be able to confide in my family or partner how I feel….
My partner has been an amazing support system throughout my journey. I know that it can’t be easy to see someone you love suffering with depression and feel that you can’t help them. He had a hard childhood and has suffered some dark times as well and can relate to depression. He tells me of his past as a way to show me that I’m not alone, and because he beat it, I can too. But what happens, because of my negative thinking, I feel ashamed of my feelings. In comparison, I had a decent childhood and no real answer to why I feel this way. I feel guilty for putting my loved ones through this. My issues are not any different than anyone else. So when he talks, he throws the “should” word at me, saying I shouldn’t or have no reason to feel this way. SHOULD IS A BLAMING WORD! Shame on me for feeling depressed for no reason! Shame on me for being a parasite on society expressing my “woe is me” rant. This is what runs through my brain when he says I have no reason to feel this way.
Needless to say, I am fucked up! I suffer with depression. But who isn’t fucked up in this day and age? I have good days and bad days, even good hours and bad hours. I am trying to get to the point where my depression doesn’t define me or that it doesn’t rule me anymore. A lot of that has to do with expressing it in an open, accepting way. There is more to me than my depression and anxiety. I can’t let it win anymore. This is why I am at least starting the conversation.
Once upon a time, it was easy for me to plaster a smile on my face and make it through a day despite what was happening inside my head. As long as there is a smile, no one will know any better. Growing up I could hide in my room and read, at school I could hide in the library and read, at MUN… well you get the gist of it. Even now at work I run away to the food court on my lunch breaks because a lot of the time I just want to get out of there.
As for my family, well… it has been years since we have discussed my psyche. Mainly because they throw the should blame around quite a bit. When my grandfather committed suicide when I was a teenager, my mother took me to a counselor. I became really good at fooling him into telling my mother that I didn’t need any more counselling. I became really good at becoming numb. What parent wants you to tell them that your psycho? Which, as a teenager, was exactly what I thought. I was going crazy. I didn’t, and still don’t, talk to my parents about my depression mainly because I don’t want to worry them, nor do I need another person tossing the should blame at me.
This is why I sought professional help. My loved ones were throwing the should word around, they would tell me there was no reason for me to feel this way, my mother even tossed God into the mix a few times and said that everything happens for a reason and that He has a plan. God…
In the past year I have attended a group and approximately a year ago I started visiting a counselor. This has really helped me start the conversation regarding depression in an objective way so I can break it down and actually find the root to the negative thought patterns that I have. This is something that is great practice and something that I really have to find time to work on. However, it makes it so much easier for me personally to discuss it when I have an answer to the madness, for lack of a better word.
However, this is my experience with my battle with depression. I do not wish this experience on anyone. So, when I speak of depression, here are some things I keep in mind.
- You cannot assume that no one will understand.You will be surprised who is in the same situation as you and is crying for someone to talk to.
- Don’t be surprised if said person turns the conversation around to themselves. Maybe they have been bottling up and need to confide in someone. Don’t take this as an insult or as if they don’t care. They could also just be trying to relate to you and say “yeah, I’ve been there.”
- One thing that I have tried with my partner is telling him, hey, I want to speak. Do not talk until I’m done, then make your remarks and comments. It gives him the time to process what I’m saying and not make rash comments that will just make me feel worse.
- There are people that will not understand. There will be those who will judge. If they judge, that’s on them, not you. You feel the way you feel. Don’t let people make you feel that this defines you. You are so much more than your illness. You are showing your strength just by letting your feelings out.
- People are going to use the word “should”. They are going to say things because they care and they don’t hear how damning that word is. They want what they feel is best for you despite how you feel. Some people do not realize that what they are saying is more hurtful. This is when you take a step back and say “Hey, I don’t appreciate what you are saying. What makes you think that this is the way I “should”be?”
- Those who are talking to you will challenge what you are saying. This is a good thing. The people around you, despite what you are keeping bottled up inside, see the persona that you convey. If they are doing the challenging in a healthy way rather than a damning way, this can actually help you discover some truths rather than thoughts that have been put through your mental filter.
- Some people just want to be nosy. They just want to know the dirt so they can spread around what you said. It’s human nature. Don’t let this deter you from sharing your emotions, just use it as a tool to learn who is really there for you.
The best advice that I can give, do not let your depression define you! At times I compare my depression to the dark passenger that Dexter speaks of in the, well, show Dexter. It’s something that is always there taunting you, however it is up to you to battle it and kick it’s butt. If you let your guard down, it will win! However, sometimes if you accidentally let that guard down, don’t shame yourself for it. Sometimes you need to talk it out. It is unhealthy to build up your emotions. Let them out in a safe environment. Any time you feel that you can’t talk to someone, do a search for hotlines or support groups that you can chat with. As a teenager I took advantage of Kids Help Phone when my parents weren’t home. It was a great way to vent and speak openly to someone who wouldn’t be able to tell your feelings to anyone else.
For those of you who are reading that are in the St. John’s region,
Mental Health Crisis Line:
(709) 737-4668 or 1-888-737-4668
You never know when you will need this help. I’m sure that even with a quick search you can find more methods on how to discuss your mental health with your loved ones.
Whether an event has brought on your depression or it’s been a dark passenger that has been haunting you for as long as you can remember, just know, you are not alone. There are many resources for you if you want to reach out. I would love to say that your loved ones are an amazing resource, which they are, but if they are making you feel shameful rather than encouraging, perhaps it’s time to call them out on it. And remember, you are not your illness!
Now, it’s time I bid you adieu.
Cheers and Keep Smiling!