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You’re stupid. You’re selfish. Grow up and quit acting like a child.
Three statements I’ve heard so many times in my life I’ve begun to believe them, even repeat them to myself.
Who am I? I’m nobody special, nobody you would remember in a crowd of strangers. Nobody you would seek out for a special project. I’m an average Jane Doe, left in the back corner for when you get bored or there is nobody else to keep you occupied.
I have severe depression and anxiety. It’s not a diagnosis; it’s who I am. These two diseases define who I am as a person and how I live my life every day. Yes, I am a mom, a sister, a wife, and a daughter. Those things are in the makeup of who I am to other people. Those things describe relationships, not me on the inside. Inside, I’m a hurricane of emotions and thoughts, swirling around and around, unfocused and damaging. On the outside, I’m fat, short, unevenly proportioned, ugly.
Again, more words used to describe me to other people, not to describe who I am. Honestly, I’m unsure of who I am. I don’t know what type of person I am. I’m a bunch of words people have used.
When you have depression, no amount of words can tell someone who doesn’t know what you’re dealing with who you are. They always say they understand, but mostly, they have no clue. On the average person’s saddest day, someone with depression has felt all of their emotions at least five times, five different ways. People don’t know how their words can affect someone like myself.
When I was eleven, my father punched me in the face for not wanting to be on the basketball team. My mother wasn’t there. She called me a liar and grounded me. That night, my father told me if I ever wanted to amount to anything I needed to learn to keep my mouth shut. He said no man would ever want a woman who couldn’t handle her own business.
When they went to sleep, I took a razor blade to my inner thighs. I wasn’t trying to kill myself. There was so much pain in my heart and mind I had to release. I had to relieve myself of that humiliation and fear. It worked. At a mere eleven-years-old, I began a battle with myself, a fight I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t know at the time, but I would become addicted to self-harm.
From then on, I developed a tough outer shell. Nobody knew how alone I was or how being bullied affected me. Bullying from classmates and my family.
I didn’t choose my friends based on common interests; I chose them by what my parents considered normal. I played the sports my parents thought I should. I took dance lessons because my mother thought it would be fun. I punished myself for being a disappointment. I starved myself so I wasn’t the fat dancer. I gave my parents what they needed on the outside. Inside, my personality was dying. My heart ached every day for who I really was. I forced myself to be my parents’ version of “acceptable” so they stayed happy.
How do I define mental illness? Easy. I don’t.
Why does everything need a label? If I’m depressed, I’m not “right.” Yet when a man cheats on his wife because he’s unhappy with her, society thinks it’s a normal thing. Mental illness isn’t a joke, yet calling your best friend crazy is accepted and fun. Mental illness is at the core of a lot of jokes, and only a few people even bat an eyelash in disapproval. My mental disability is who I am, yet I cannot find the words to define it.
Mental illness is like water, ever changing and always moving.[/nextpage]
Most days I am overly sensitive. I have trouble forming bonds because every moment has to be digested. Every word spoken or typed is safely tucked away for further evaluation. I can feel your pain and will use it for fuel towards why I am a shitty person. It doesn’t matter if I had anything to do with your sadness; it’s still my responsibility to try and help you. My heart is large enough to harbor my own emotions and yours.
My depression is crippling. Fighting with my kids or anyone, really, has me questioning whether or not I deserve to be alive. My father’s abuse, as a young girl, is what started me down the path of self-harm. Self-harm is far easier to handle than feeling like people who are supposed to love you do not. Feeling down and out is not depression. Sure, it’s part of it, but there is so much more. Feeling the whole world caving in around you isn’t really depression either.
Depression is black, dense, caressing. Depression surrounds and suffocates you. The feelings can’t truly be described because they are different for everyone. Drowning in sadness is used a lot by people with depression. The words I use are fear, loneliness, failure, heart-stoppage, aggression, prison.
Depression is fear of losing yourself in a pit of black, crushing loneliness. Your heart stops at the thought of failing anyone. You become aggressive towards anyone threatening to open the doors to the prison you have trapped your depression in, but only if you are strong enough to trap it. Kind words and knowing someone out there is going to reach for your hand helps a lot with trapping it. Pills help some people, but for others, they makes it worse. For me, I have to constantly re-evaluate my depression and anxiety.
Mental illness affects so many people, yet it is still being studied. Everyone has an opinion about it; everyone has a theory about how to help people. To truly help someone, you have to experience their thoughts. My story is about my own personal type of mental hell. Just think, there are millions of other types of mental illness and they have nothing to do with each other.
I have two simple things to ask:
Fight the stigma that suggests everyone with mental illness can be cured.
Fight the thought that people can just choose to not have this disease.
By doing so, you just may help someone like me.[/nextpage]