The Truth Comes Out. It Always Does.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

-Elizabeth Wurtzel

I think the first time I experienced depression, I thought it was an effect of a new medication I was taking for my ADHD. I don’t think I knew that the way I felt was any different than anyone else’s experience. I didn’t know that waking up numb could simultaneously feel so painful.

When I was seventeen, I masked my depression with countless weekends at friend’s houses drinking and trying to forget the world I was currently inhabiting. I shut out the emotions of my parent’s divorce, my mom’s departure to a different city, and the incredibly powerful feeling of heartbreak. But not the kind of heartbreak that comes from an end in a relationship.

This heartbreak was the sinking realization that my life was not only different than what I expected, but completely aimless and dark. I feel like there was a solid amount of time that I wandered down the halls at school and felt like I was in a movie where everything around you is happening in a slow motion blur, where the voices around you are too happy and too loud. I was a ghost walking amidst my peers, keeping everything together on the outside because I felt like that’s what I should do.

The second time I experienced depression was my junior year of college. This time I didn’t mask my depression with alcohol or partying; in fact, I wanted to avoid people and socializing at all costs.

“Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure, but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends, but hating socializing. It’s wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely. It’s feeling everything at once then feeling paralyzingly numb.”

This time around, I realized that there are people in the world that don’t feel this depth of emotion in a way that paralyzes them. I realized that some friends are only your friend until you can’t just “get over it”.

There’s an abundance of humans in the world that may not personally understand this struggle, but they love you regardless. These people are the ones that show up and sit with you while you lay on the bathroom floor crying. The ones that sit on the phone with you in silence just so you feel less alone. The ones that drive four hours to do nothing but be with you in the quiet turbulence of your panic attacks. These are the people that slowly but surely begin building the raft that will get you back to shore.

“Here is the tragedy; when you are the victim of depression, not only do you feel utterly helpless and abandoned by the world, you also know that very few people can understand, or even begin to believe, that life can be this painful.”

– Giles Andreae

I think that this blog post will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever written, because for the longest time, I’ve taught myself to hide my truth. I’ve silenced who I am so I wouldn’t disrupt the world around me.

So here we go. Here’s the truth.

I am currently in the process of accepting, reflecting on, and ultimately winning my battle with depression. I don’t say winning because I can see the end; in fact, I feel so far away from reality that all I can do is take it hour by hour or I might not win this fight. I say it because I have accepted that my life will never be typical. I cannot get rid of this mental illness with an antibiotic or a hot cup of tea. It’s a part of me; my genetic makeup has given me this gift of understanding  the world when there is no sunlight. I have to learn how to live with it instead of losing life because of it.

To say that this depression was triggered by one thing would be naive. I’ve been masking this depression for nearly two and a half years. I’ve been hiding from myself more than anyone else. This time I wasn’t coping through alcohol or hiding in my room; this time I put my identity in the work that I created and in the opinions of those around me. So much so that when I lost something I was holding onto with all that I had, I realized how much of myself I had given away. I realized that I had not built a life centered around anything besides the feelings of others.

I have this new friend. She’s much older than me, more of a mother figure than anything.  She looks at me and sees me. Broken. Ashamed. Hurt. Lost. Scared. She sees me and has the courage to tell me that I have to choose myself this time. I have to choose to honor who I am and how I feel if I am ever to get passed this immobilizing defeat. She brings me two books: one that gives my heartbreak hope, and the other that teaches me how to take care of my self.

Take care of myself. This is foreign territory. I thought I was doing that before, working out, showering every day, eating three meals. That’s what I thought it meant to practice self-care.

I’ve recently learned that self-care is very different. It’s accepting yourself as you are and letting yourself feel and be whatever you currently need to be. It’s kindly saying no to what no longer serves you, or simply anything you don’t want to do. It’s reversing years of telling yourself lies about who you are and what people think about you. It’s letting go of the idea of perfection and joining the world around you with the desire to be more whole.

I’m writing this because I need to. I need to admit to the world that I’ve spent the last two and a half years smiling and planning and managing every detail of the world in which I live and work, because I thought that meant I was living a successful life.

I am not by any means saying that I haven’t experienced joy. I have, but not the way that so many people do. Joy is not a fleeting feeling that you mourn the loss of as soon as it presents itself. It’s the feeling of being present in the goodness. And I have been so confused about why I couldn’t feel that goodness to it’s full potential. I felt defective.

I have spent the majority of my life creating plans and thinking ten steps ahead so that I wouldn’t end up unhappy with my life. Fortunately, God has recently allowed me to see that I have been running in the opposite direction of freedom for quite some time. It turns out that you can’t control the way your life pans out. Ha. 

My planning and thinking ahead robbed me of my ability to be present. It taught me to reach towards perfection instead of grace. It made the world black and white even though my heart sees the possibility of color and life.

The bottom line is that I have created habits that not only keep me from being present, they keep me from enjoying life. I met someone that woke me up from the numbness and reminded me how alive I was inside, underneath all of the fear. I laughed and felt joy in a way that scared me. I felt loved in a way I didn’t know was possible. I became hopeful about the future, seeing that I had been asleep for a while. And it took losing that person to realize a very important lesson: I cannot fully love or be loved until I can do that on my own.

And I think that’s the biggest heartbreak of all: realizing you lost out on someone because you lost yourself I’m marking through this line on Friday, December 14th, because I realize I was very wrong about this truth. If you lose yourself in depression, or anxiety, or any other mental illness, you don’t lose out on someone. Sure, it might not be their cup of tea and they will walk away, but that’s not on you. It’s not about you. It’s not because of you. [The exception to this is obviously if there’s any sort of abuse of any kind involved. In that case, run, don’t walk.] The heartbreak I referred to above isn’t the heartbreak of losing out on someone due to your mental illness; it’s the heartbreak that who you are in your most vulnerable state, is not meant to be loved and nurtured by the person that walks away. And that’s the truth of it all: if someone isn’t willing or capable of walking through your hardest moments and enjoying your best moments with you, they are not your person. And that’s not on them, or on you. It just is. It’s heartbreaking, especially when there’s such a deep sense of love for the other person.

I’ve toyed with the idea of coming back and deleting the statement I struck through, but I’m leaving it intentionally. 

To show how time heals. How time can’t heal all hurts, but it can show you what you couldn’t see in the thick of it. 

I feel very alone these days. It’s like everyone that loves me is trying to find the room I’m in so they can unlock the door and let me out, but they keep passing the door because they can’t see it, and I’m inside screaming for help. Suffocating. There are so many people that love me and I wish more than anything that I could internalize that love, that I could FEEL it rather than see it all around me.

The only thing that I can hold onto right now is the fact that God has so much more in store for me than I could ever dream up, and this humbling experience brings me closer to Him than anything the world can offer me. He promises a better plan. The best plan. But he knows we have to fall down and try things our way first before we can see that He’s working within us to refine and rebuild the broken pieces. And right now, that’s the truth I have to hold onto. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Second by second.

This too shall pass. 


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