Today is World Mental Health Day. It’s the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week. And I’m going to tell you about my struggle with depression.
This is going to be difficult for me.
I suppose my depression really started in high school. Mild, very mild then. But depression nonetheless. I was a straight-A’s, straight-laced student and kids like me didn’t have depression. Kids like me were happy working on their homework more often than hanging out with friends. Kids like me.
My depression got worse when I started college and fell in with a bad influence. She had problems of her own that, in effect, brought all of mine to the surface. It’s because of her that I started self-harming. She self-harmed, and that both put the idea in my head and made it okay for me to follow suit. Like I said, bad influence. It all culminated in a suicide attempt you can read about in this post. Because of that attempt, I finally sought help after spiraling down for what seemed like forever. And I was diagnosed with clinical depression, now more commonly known as major depressive disorder.
I went to two counseling sessions at University of Iowa Student Health. The first session was productive. I talked about my suicidal thoughts and my self-harming issues and got some good feedback. The next session was far less productive. I came in with nothing new to talk about regarding self-harm and instead wanted to talk about other issues like my self-esteem and issues with my relationships. When I said “See you next week!” to the therapist, she said something along the lines of “You don’t have to make an appointment if you don’t have anything to talk about.” Woah, right? Okay, devastating blow to me. That one sentence prompted me to decide therapists were a load of crap and I could and would just deal with myself by myself.
I stopped majorly self-harming in 2009. I still kept doing things like punching walls, but that’s over now, too. Moving to Minneapolis has helped me immensely in dealing with my depression. If I hadn’t moved and met the people I did, I wouldn’t have reached out to a therapist again. I wouldn’t have asked about antidepressants. I wouldn’t be on antidepressants. And while the dosage and/or specific medication needs tweaking, it helps me immensely. I still have bad days (see yesterday’s post), especially when I neglect to take my meds, but overall I’m starting on a more even emotional level instead of down in the depths of self-loathing.
Depression is a hard thing to describe to people who haven’t experienced it. I still have a difficult time describing it. I haven’t found a better collection of descriptions of depression than this list on Buzzfeed. I know, I know, Buzzfeed. But it’s a perfect list.
Anyway, I’ve had another bad day so I’m going to cut it short. Tune in tomorrow for a creative post. And thanks for reading this special, emotional, important post.
Whatever your problems – mental or physical – enjoy the journey.