It takes away your identity. It strips you of everything you once were and leaves you clinging onto anything. It exposes every weakness. It turns you into emptiness. It takes your mind and forces yourself against you. It becomes your worst enemy. It makes you lonely. It makes you terrified. It makes you helpless.
It is depression.
Depression effects many people in many different ways. For some, there’s a logical life event to create it. For others, it’s simply a chemical imbalance (which hilariously enough, always seems illogical). And for people like me, it’s a combination of the two. I have Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This means that even when life is perfect, I can still get depressed. This means I have a chemical imbalance. However, I’ve also suffered through my fair share of heartache.
I’ve been depressed since I was about 10. This was the time my grandpa, Papa Leon, or as I called him, papa Elvis, had passed away. We were traveling to California a lot, my grades suffered. I was a student who made straight A’s. Not anymore. I had changed friend groups, and became friends with two girls who would prove themselves to be bullies. My anxiety attacks had just started and I was convinced I was mentally insane. And I had just suffered from severe dehydration, which left me in the hospital for many days. To top it all off, I was suffering from undiagnosed ADD.
Back then, my parents still cared. They still supported me, they helped me try to help myself. They took me out of school in 6th grade. I haven’t had a decent education since that day. But, it was better than spending every day hiding with the nurse or locked up in the counselor’s office. I lost all of my friends except for one, but she still had her own life to live. She cared and always will, yet she couldn’t understand at that age just how badly I needed her. I became close friends with my stuffed animals, I became an avid Days of Our lives fan, and I ate ice cream for almost every meal. I was truly living the dream for anyone my age. Yet, I still suffered.
Every night I would have a panic attack. I couldn’t sleep alone, I couldn’t stop feeling sick. I was keeping my parents up at all hours of the night, every night. Some days my dad went to work without a minute of sleep. My mom would have to entertain me as she laid on the sofa half awake. I felt so guilty, so ashamed, I began to hate myself.
As years went on, I eventually moved and got new friends. Myspace and Facebook became a thing. And all of my friends were like older brothers to me, or so I felt like. As things worsened at home between my teenage acting up, the undiagnosed ADD, and the anxiety, my depression grew worse. I would post to my social media sites in hopes to find peace. To find a helping hand, a friend to comfort me. I didn’t find that, I found hate and anger. Bullies once again appeared, only this time they were anonymous and online. I couldn’t escape them.
I became friends with this sweet girl, she was going through depression as well. We became best friends and confided in each other. She shared how she would self harm, how she drank and smoked. I hadn’t even thought to do any of these things. My one vice I had will remain a personal one. Cutting yourself was getting popular and was everywhere online. I was so surrounded by it, I decided to try it.
When I would self harm, it started out as a pair of scissors and just barely scratching my leg. Then, I found a craft knife. I used it to cut my leg, then I began carving words into my thigh. “Bitch,” “Whore,” “Slut,” these were some of the words I remember. The funny thing is, I wasn’t a bitch. I just was angry at the world for not helping me. I wasn’t a slut or a whore either, I had only kissed one boy. He was my boyfriend when I kissed him. Eventually, I tried cutting on my wrist. I did it on the top of my arm because I didn’t want to accidentally die, I just wanted to feel something. My parents knew, my friends knew, my church knew, and my therapist knew. I was 15/16 and to this day, I have still never gotten help for self harm. The only help I’ve gotten was from myself and God.
By the time I was 18 I had refused multiple different medication offers. Taken and quit Xanex. Started smoking cigarettes. Started binge drinking. And had begun to start using sex as a new way to self harm.
I partied with my friends every possible chance I got. For the most part, it was all innocent for me. I only drank, the kids that did drugs were respectful and hid to do them, and the worst state I woke up in was cuddled up with two of my best guy friends. Nothing had happened between us.
Eventually, I got a boyfriend. He moved to Arizona to be with me, that’s what he told me. I found out he was planning on cheating on me, he had been talking to other girls. Even after knowing this, I stayed. I gave him a second chance, my heart stayed with him for 4 years. In between our many on-agains I fell into deep depression.
When we broke up the second time, I lost it. I lost myself completely. I had just been kicked out of my parents’ house, this time for something more legit than laundry, and I was in my own apartment. I worked 2 jobs to support myself, I was never home. I began to wonder why not just sleep in my damn car? I broke down the day my dad helped me put my bed frame together. He and my mom had brought me Chipotle and I took one bite and threw it up. I was so upset. I even kicked my mother out of my apartment just to spite her. As if moving out on mother’s day wasn’t bad enough.
I wasn’t me, this time, I was a bitch. I was hurt and broken. The man I gave all of myself to, he didn’t want me. My mother had kicked me out, she didn’t want me. Thank God for my father. He’s always wanted me.
Shortly after moving into my apartment in the shittiest part of town I could afford, I began going up to the college town up north. I was there every weekend, then every other day. I’d sometimes drive up there and call out of work, yet again, with food poisoning. I was so ashamed of myself, yet I kept on doing it. It came to a point where I quit both my jobs, ended my lease, and moved up north to party constantly. I made it sound okay by telling myself and others that I would get a job, live with a friend, and start community college. I did get a job, a delivery driver for a sandwich shop themed around smoking pot. I did live with a friend, who seemed to constantly lock me out of his dorm room. And I did not go to school. Instead, I partied. And I partied hard. I fell for the first guy to give me attention after my ex had left me. Then, I fell for another guy, who was in a relationship with someone else. I was put in a position to do drugs, to drink constantly, and to ruin my life for the next 5 years.
Depression, in this moment in time, was from a life event. From outwardly feeling unloved and unwanted. But, two things saved my life. First, was God when he planned the night I was to be arrested. Secondly, was the best person I had ever met in my life.
After I was arrested, I spent a couple more nights drinking until I had to pack my things and move back in with my parents. My best friend, Traci helped me get through this tough time and many since then. My depression was far from gone, but it was becoming manageable as I was no longer drinking.
Fast forward to 2015 and you’ll find my next greatest depressive episode. I had moved out to Tennessee to live with th same man that had taken my heart a couple years before. Again, I told myself it was the right thing because I was going to get a job and go to school. This time, I did actually do those things. They weren’t enough.
While I loved that man with all my heart, things began to fall apart after the 2014 holidays. He was working the most, and I had a little part time job. My nights were spent waiting for him to come home from work at 1-4 in the morning. I tried to work on this very blog, nothing came of it. I tried to clean, but I was terrified of being home alone. I spent my nights binge watching the same season of Gilmore Girls over and over. I spent my days having panic attacks after fighting with him because I didn’t keep the house clean.
While I truly believe this wasn’t his intention, I found myself in an emotionally destructive relationship. It fed my anxiety, it secured my depression. What I mean by that is, this relationship told me everything negative that my brain was telling me. It was confirming all of my depression’s lies.
A year ago this month, I made the decision to end my relationship and, yet again, move back home. This time, I wasn’t allowed back at my parents’ house until my friend had decided to kick me out of her family’s house. Just a short week after living with my parents and I was being kicked out again. I had started using drinking as a way to escape the pain again. I lived in two different hotel rooms for two weeks all while going to school. I kept my head above water, and I survived with the help of one of my now best friends. He was there when literally no one else was to be found, I’ll always be grateful for that.
Now, in the present moment, my depression still lingers. While I consider myself to be on the path to recovery from my previous depressive episode, it shows up every once in a while.
I still have my vices, they’re a bit more healthy. I drink half caf and decaf coffee, I write about my personal life, and I have an Instagram about mental health (living.positivelywild). There are still some bad vices, I smoke too much, I occasionally drink, and I procrastinate my ass off! I’m getting better, though.
Depression looks like a living room full of boxes from when I moved in. It looks like a giant pile of laundry and two unpacked suitcases. It’s a sofa I hardly ever sit on.
Depression is a table full of decor and clutter. It’s a shelf full of unread books. A stack of movies to cheer me up. It’s a positive sign that I spent $70 on because I was depressed when I bought it. Depression is hope buried under a mess.
Depression is cigarette butts and empty packs covering my patio floor. It’s a blanket of ash that gets my bare feet dirty when I step outside. It’s a lonely dog looking through the window wishing his mommy could take better care of him. It’s wondering why I can’t move from this spot even though that poor dog’s face makes me cry.
(For the record, Warren gets fed daily, spoiled with toys and treats, and cuddles every night. He is not poorly taken care of. I’m just unable to play and walk with him as much as he’d like.)
Depression steals your face. It takes away every ounce of who you are. You can’t enjoy a damn thing. You can’t even enjoy taking a nap. Sometimes depression leaves you feeling absolutely nothing at all. It can also leave you feeling like you’re drowning in saddness. Depression makes you desperate. I get desperate for someone to love me, for someone to show they care. I post to social media for encouragement, I beg my friend to come stay the night. Recently, I’ve contemplated going to a hospital, I did my research. My depression likes to sneak up on me in the middle of my days. It likes to steal all joy from my soul.
I keep going. I’m stronger each day. I fight harder each time. My mornings start out happy, my afternoons a little down, and my evenings are left up to fate. I pray each day for God to continue working in my life. I’m determined to not let this illness I have go to waste. I long to inspire and be happy. I want the people in the world to know they aren’t alone. I want the little kids struggling to grow up to know there is help. I want the strong men to know it’s okay to cry. I want the perfect women to know it’s okay to be broken.
There is help for us all, but we can only fully receive it when we are willing to let go of who we’ve been to grow into someone completely new.