It takes a lot of courage to accept that you’re not as stable of a person as you may have led yourself to believe. For nearly a decade, I’ve been battling some type of evil within me. No, I’m not possessed but on certain days it does feel that way. Something takes over and draws me into this darkness where I can’t seem to pull myself out of. Thankfully it only lasts for a couple of hours or at most a day, but regardless of how long it overcomes me, it is one of the most miserable feelings I’ve ever experienced. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and it hurts like hell.
I really started noticing a change in my behavior nearly a decade ago while in college, but ever since I can remember, I’ve been in and out of counseling sessions, and on and off medicine to help me better stabilize my moods. From my parents getting divorced to my ADHD, there was always a pill needed or a person to sit down and talk to whether I liked it or not. I pushed back with every session and pill. I questioned why I needed it and then questioned why I had to take it when other kids didn’t. I guess I didn’t fully understand the need for it at all. Some type of chemical imbalance in my body just doesn’t allow me to feel or stay happy. That’s how it was described to me. Fast forward to 2019 and I understand it now more than ever.
If you know me, I’m always out to make people smile or laugh. In a way, it relieves some of the pain I have inside from years of emotional and mental abuse from those who I cared deeply about and even from myself. I spent much of my 20s questioning what my purpose was on this earth. The most difficult part was inadvertently convincing me that I had no purpose in life at all. It led to days and weeks of depression, thinking those around me were out to get me, thinking I didn’t deserve to be in a career that I worked so tirelessly for. It became a constant cycle of “never good enough for anyone or anything.” I’d put on this mask of happiness and prance around like life was absolutely amazing. Inside, I was crying out for help but was too embarrassed to get it. I eventually said, “Enough!” I was fed up with days of darkness and misery, so I finally asked for help. Each city I moved to, I searched out for a counselor who I could confide in. While it wasn’t ideal for my pride, I knew my pride would thank me later.
After I had moved to Albuquerque and got married, I began seeing my umpteenth counselor (I’ve lost track.) At the beginning of each session, she’d have me fill out a questionnaire. One of the questions stated, “Have you had thoughts about harming yourself or others?” I would answer no, but one day I did tell her that while I would never harm myself and try to take my own life, the thought of not being here anymore was a peaceful feeling. It didn’t scare me. I told her that if one night I fell asleep and never woke up, I’d be quite content with life or the lack thereof. Before you call the local psych ward, she explained it’s quite natural for us to have those morbid thoughts of death and that it’s much different than wanting to do harm to your own life. There have been days recently that I’ve expressed thoughts and feelings to my husband just like I did with my counselor, not to get attention but to try to help him understand it’s a never-ending battle in my head every minute of my day. There are times when I’d like to tell Siri to cut my brain off and allow me to take a few moments to breathe without thought. I know that’s impossible, so I have to manage the best way I can.
Every day there’s a new struggle waiting for me when I wake up. It’s a cycle that continues to this day, but I’ve learned with medicine and with my husband’s support that I can manage my illness so it doesn’t affect my daily life. I’m writing this because I want you to know it’s ok to reach out and ask for help. Whether in the form a pill or even an ear from a close friend, you owe it to yourself to learn how to manage your depression or anxiety in a healthy way. If ignored, it can consume you and destroy the most joyful parts of your life and isolate you from those who care most about your well-being. While every day promises some kind of challenge, it also promises some kind of hope. Know that while I continue to struggle with my illness, I have hope that tomorrow will bring a new understanding of why I am here. While it may be unclear now, I know these words can help at least one person know their worth and know it’s ok to speak up and be heard.