Although many friendships throughout life come and go, I’ve been fortunate enough to have known the writer of this piece since 3rd grade.
There is such a comfort in a friendship like the one Sammy and I have. We’ve known each other since we were eight years old. We remember each other’s best times, and we were there for each other’s worst times, too.
Although, right now, we basically live on the opposite sides of the country, Sammy has been someone who continuously supports me, and even more-so than that, inspires me. She creates some pretty dope shit and somehow still has time to help me with my projects, too. I am so happy to share her piece about her mental health experiences.
Without further ado… Here it is:
When I finally realized what it was, I was too scared to define myself as it. I’d substituted words like “not feeling myself” or “I’m off today” or “I’m just exhausted”. I guess I was scared of telling people I was something that I couldn’t take back. How can I say I suffer from depression and be seen a week later, out with friends at a bar, smiling and laughing? When people think depression, they think isolation, and darkened rooms behind closed blinds. They think a deep pain, and their mind eventually brings them to the topic of suicide. Not everyone suffering from depression is aware they are suffering from depression. And not everyone suffering from depression thinks about ending their life to escape their mind.
When I told someone recently about my reoccurring struggle with depression, the first thing they asked was about the suicidal thoughts. “Wait you think about killing yourself?”. Haven’t we all? When you stand too close to the edge of a cliff, and you think how easy it would be to jump. I’ve thought about it, but I’ve never thought about acting on it. The biggest issue I have with my depression is that it is mine, it belongs to me. No two people share the same depression. When we talk about depression and the warning signs, we try to treat it and understand it in the same way. Depression comes with its friends, like anxiety and other disorders that occur in the brain and again, no two cases are alike. No two cases should be treated similarly.
My depression comes on softly. It starts with some negative thoughts about myself, and new thoughts start to add themselves to my head daily. Once the thoughts are regular, I start to mistrust the people around me because attacking myself is not good enough. After that, I cut myself off from real connection. I don’t answer texts. I procrastinate beyond comprehension. It’s this hopelessness that things aren’t going to get better. Sometimes I convince myself a witch put a curse on me or that I’m living in a vortex. Life begins to feel less real, almost like an endless dream. My mind becomes hazy. Sometimes I cry for no reason in my car or in the stream of water from my shower. Sleep becomes something I so desperately need, even if I’m getting 8+ hours, like I’m not truly sleeping even when I am. I stay in bed for hours if I can. I loose interest in my passions: singing, cooking, reading, cinema and most importantly, my photography. I don’t want to take pictures. I see failure and mistakes in each photo I take. I become a lesser version of myself. I feel I’ve let down everyone around me, including the ones I’ve lost to death. I feel their disappointment in my sleep.
And then, I see sun. It’s like I awake from a slumber and I can feel again. And I cry out of happiness instead of sadness. I get excited for my future. Someone once told me depression is not being able to see a future. It’s hard to see pass the thoughts when it’s all that consumes you. It takes away any glimmer of hope for a future when you can’t dream up one. When I emerge from the depression, I feel strong.
But I know it’s not over. I think the biggest lesson I have learned with my depression is to seek help often. Tell your family and friends. You are loved even when your brain tells you you are not. My fears had always been being misunderstood, being judged, or not being taken seriously. Those fears subsided tremendously when I shared my burden with others. I sought therapy, and began building a relationship with my mom again, and with myself. I know my depression does not define me as a person. We are never just one thing and we are never ever alone.