Dear people of social media,
As I scroll through my feed I smile looking at all of the graduation announcements, wedding photos, and baby birthday parties. But today it made me sit and look back at my last four years.
Year 1: I graduated high school and walked as one of the valedictorians with many scholarships to attend University , I then found myself walking down the aisle of my fathers funeral that winter.
Year 2: I was the head coach of a kids swim team, I got a tattoo, classes flew by, I kept myself as busy as possible.
Year 3: Depression and anxiety hit, my grades tanked, I stopped actively participating in life, I was miserable.
Year 4: I found help, tried 10 different medications along with counseling over the course of a semester, spent countless nights sick,and yet I am still more hopeful than ever before. No, I will not be graduting in the Spring but I will eventually. No, I am not a teacher yet but I will be eventually. No, I am not happy yet but I will eventually be.
These past few months have been hard but they were nothing compared to trying to handle this alone. Too many people hide from their mental illnesses due to the stigma that surrounds the topic. I am no longer one of those people. Thank you to everyone who has been there to help me particularly my mom, sister and *cheers* new brother in law. To everyone else out there that is struggling with depression, I want to tell you it is so much harder trying to go through this alone than it is to get help. I love you all!
As I sat on my couch and watched out the window this morning with my tea in hand I felt an odd sense of displacement. I have done this same morning routine for a while now. Routines where I just flow through my day with out really experiencing it. Some days even a routine is too hard for me to handle and I lay in bed with my thoughts racing through my head. As I sit on my couch again tonight and watch as the other college students are celebrating this Wednesday for some reason or another, all I can think about is the movie New Moon, the one from the twilight series. I never really understood or connected with the movie as much as I do sitting here right now. The day to day tasks might get done and some basic contact with the outside world occurs but ultimately its just you alone with your thoughts watching the seasons go by. Your peers in the beginning are trying their best to hold tight to your connection with reality but after a while their strength, their persistence fades and you start to drift. Your family doesn’t know how to help but they hate to see you in pain and hate even more to see you emotionless. The days get dark and sleepy but then there is a light in the distance. You meet a person, or reach out to a friend, or talk with a doctor. You finally get a glimmer, a whisper of hope. Hope that came when it was most needed in time. Thats the intriguing thing about time, this is all temporary. The emotions you feel, the thoughts you are having, they are temporary. So when as I am sitting on the couch in a dark moment I try to remember that this is temporary and that soon the hope will come back, doing that makes the day a little easier to handle.
Today I went to my college health center I was formally diagnosed with depression. I was not surprised but there is something so terrifying about having a doctor come in and confirm it. To be honest I broke down crying in the doctors office but they were all so sweet about my situation, my past and the fact that I was blubbering in the hallway. The stigma surrounding mental health is ridiculous. I walked in there today afraid of being called crazy or worse having them tell me that this was all just in my head. They were so helpful and kind. All of them from the front desk to the doctor himself seemed to genuinely care if I was okay. They spoke to me calmly and not as if I was a lunatic on the street, they realized that my emotions were real and I was heard. For those of you reading this I want you to know that its an overwhelming feeling knowing that I just took a huge step in getting better today. I have been fighting with depression and anxiety for over a year. So much so that I almost failed out of college after maintaining a 3.2gpa as a double science major. I am not proud of how long I struggled with this before I admitted to needing help. But I am glad that that day was today. Today I made a huge step. I am moving in the right direction of my goals and to finding even more happiness. Going and talking about my mental health was the best thing I could have done today.
I set up new goals for the remainder of the month and I am going to let all of you in on the secret of what they are. I will take my meds as directed. I will not use marijuana or alcohol until October first so I can see how my body is reacting. I will make it 75% of my classes and work. I will eat well and work out every day. It has been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I hope these are habits that I keep and goals that I achieve.
For those of you who read this posting and feel like you could benefit from talking with a medical professional, do it. All it takes is just one appointment. Your happiness is well worth it.