C.C. has been one of my closest friends for a few years now. She deals with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, so when she contacted me, wanting to write about her experiences on my blog, I welcomed the idea with open arms. One of the reasons she has decided to share her story is to show people that anyone, no matter how normal or happy they may seem, can be going through a hard time.
To those of you who actually read this, it is going to be long and very emotional. The things that I have decided to write about are dark, but I feel like they need to be shared. I’m not usually one to talk about my feelings or my personal experiences. However, I feel like I need to talk about what has been going on in my life in order for me to continue to heal and make progress. I also feel like we, as humans, decide to run from the things that scare us the most, which is why I’ve decided to share my story. I also feel like even though we hear about depression, we don’t think it will happen to us or to the people closest to us.
I’ve struggled with depression since the age of ten when my dad passed away. It’s only gotten worse since then. I struggle with Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety on a daily basis. Even when I’m not in a depressive period, my anxiety is always around. My anxiety feeds into my depression, so when I fall into a depressive episode, my mind is overwhelmed with irrational and negative thoughts. They practically run my life and control my thoughts. For example, when someone tells me that they care, my brain will twist that thought and make it seems like people care only because they pity me. Not because they might actually mean what they say. I know that isn’t the truth by any means. It makes my relationships much more complicated and I tend to push people away instead of allowing them to know what is going on in my life. Pushing people away is easier than trying to explain what is going on inside of my head. Despite everything that was going in the right direction in my life, I always found the downside to everything. Instead of being thankful to make it through the day, I focused on everything that went wrong.
I try to protect the people closest to me. That’s why many of my friends don’t know what has been going on in my life and how bad things have been. Some of my friends and family don’t even know that each day is a struggle to make it through. I hide everything. The happy C.C many of you know, isn’t really happy. I try to make people laugh so they don’t know what’s really going on inside of my head. Just because I am okay today, does not mean I will be fine tomorrow. I deal with this on a daily basis and my mood can shift very quickly. Sometimes the smallest thing can send me into a depressive episode.
When I fall into that deep pit, things usually get very dark and become scary. Within the last three months, I have been downing in so much darkness that I couldn’t see any light. I was stuck in a bottomless pit and no matter how hard I fought my butt off, I couldn’t seem to climb out of that steep hole. Every time I tried to pull myself back up, I would fall further down. At one point, the darkness had consumed every portion of my life. The negativity twisted every thought in my head and made me feel like I had no one, even though I had and still have tons of people who care about me and would miss me if I were gone.
My mind likes to play tricks on me. Less than a month ago I was ready to end my life. My suicidal thoughts weren’t passive anymore, they had become active. In case if you don’t understand what that means, my thoughts became so persistent that I couldn’t think about anything else but ending my life. Passive thoughts usually pop into the brain but leave shortly after arriving. They carry no urgency. They don’t feel like they need to be acted upon. Active thoughts, however, are persistent. They consume your life. They make you believe that there are no other options. That killing yourself is the only way. They make you feel like you’re downing. They make you feel like you are suffocating; like you can’t catch your breath no matter how hard you try. I secluded myself from everyone and just the thought of being around people would send me into a panic attack. I hated my life. I had nothing to look forward too.
This depressive episode wasn’t like any other I had experienced so far. I had been this deep in the pit before, but I had always cared about the people around me and how much it would hurt them if I were to take my own life. This time was different. This time, I didn’t care about anyone but myself. I wanted the pain to stop; I needed the pain to stop. Nothing I was doing was working. I had one of my medications upped and I still hadn’t seen any change in my mood. This time, I was 100% ready to be selfish. This time, I was set on taking my life. I had thought about every way that I could possibly end my life in detail. I even had a plan for after I got out of the hospital, although I never went.
As many of you may not know, I have been to a psychiatric hospital before. I was a freshman in college at the time. College is supposed to be a fun experience. It’s supposed to be about making memories and finding friends that you may have for the rest of your life. My freshman year was anything but fun and exciting. It was full of stress and pressure and chaotic moments where my mood was so low I couldn’t even get out of bed. I wasn’t just sad. It wasn’t just something I could “get over.” My life didn’t feel like my own. I didn’t feel like I had any control over my mind. My thoughts were so cloudy and dark. I had relapsed with self-harm because I couldn’t cope any other way. Although, I’m not holding that against myself because I am only human, and I make mistakes. My junior year in college I had actually attempted to take my own life. I had taken a whole handful of sleeping pills, hoping that I would wake up and that all of the pain would be gone. I told my roommate what I had done, and she didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t successful because if I were, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
If it weren’t for one of the people from my support system I had become close too, (I have decided to leave her name out of this, so she can’t be identified) I wouldn’t be here today. She saved my life even though she crossed so many lines to do so. She put her entire career on the line just to make sure that I survived. She is truly the reason I am here. She encouraged me when I needed it the most. She listened to me while I cried uncontrollably, without judgement. She reached over the edge of the pit I was stuck in and was determined to pull me out.
So much has happened in these last three months. I did a genetic test to find out which medications would work for my depression and anxiety. The test determined that all of the medication I were on for my depression and anxiety were all wrong for me. That I was more likely to have the negative side effects to those medications because of my genetic makeup. Meaning, those warning labels on the side of the bottle for potential side effects pertained to me. The medications I was on were making me have increased suicidal thoughts and had increased my anxiety levels.
I was put on a new medication for my depression and was given something to make me sleep at night to help with my insomnia. I have managed to survive. I have pulled myself out of that dark pit, with the help of others of course. I have managed to open up more to people about what has been going on. I know none of these sound-like big steps, but to me, they are gigantic steps. I have made more progress with myself within the past three months then I have in years.
I’m writing about my experiences because I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to just “deal” with how they are feeling. I can personally say that you don’t just “get over” intense feelings such as depression. There is nothing wrong with having a mental illness. It does not make me or you any less of a person. It does not make me or you unqualified for jobs. It isn’t who we are. It doesn’t own us. In fact, I wouldn’t change my life in order to avoid my depression and anxiety. It has helped me be a better person. It helps me understand how someone going through the same situation may be feeling. It helps me relate to people on a different level than others may be able to relate. I don’t see my mental illness as a downfall anymore. If anything, I wear it as a badge of honor because I am still here. I have managed to live when I didn’t feel like I could. I survived and that deserves to be acknowledged.
I may have struggled, and I will continue to struggle when falling into these episodes, but I am choosing to focus on the positive things instead of all of the negative thing in my life. I am choosing to look on the bright side of my mental illness. I used to be ashamed to have a mental illness. I was embarrassed to have such dark thoughts. When in all actuality, almost every person we know in our lifetimes deals with some kind of mental illness. I think it is time for us to stop feeling like we can’t talk about the bad things that go through our minds because we are worried about being judged. No one is 100% happy all of the time. Everyone has their own struggles. We are humans and we are flawed, but that doesn’t mean we have to let that control who we want to be. You can make it. You are important. People do care about you, no matter how much your thoughts try to tell you otherwise. You deserve to be here. You deserve to live because life has so much in store for you.