Usually when I describe joking about my darkest moments with friends, I am referring to Allie (better known to me as Mcveety). She’s the person who always helps me lighten the mood with a laugh. She gets me on a wave length that not many do, and I’m so lucky for that.
When I thought about making this month a collaborative project, Mcveety is one of the first people I asked to help. Something in me just knew she’d have a good experience to write about.
In her piece she talks about what her diagnoses mean to her. She also shares a harsh wake-up call she recently experienced, and how it has influenced her outlook moving forward.
I am happy to share her words here:
Anxiety is, two hours ago, having to call your mom from where you were pulled over on the side of the road to talk you off the ledge because you could feel a panic attack coming on. Anxiety is your mom having to come home early from work to find you in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, unable to tell her what’s wrong. Anxiety is, at 7 years old, laying awake the entire night because every single little noise you hear you HAVE to go make sure your little brother is still alive and well in the next room, because you are deathly afraid something will happen to him. Anxiety is having a half hour conversation with a professor and not remembering what was said because you were in the middle of a panic attack and you tend to black out during your worst ones.
I do notice that I referenced my mom a lot. Other than the fact that she is my favorite person in the entire world and I literally couldn’t function on this earth without her (no literally like she fills out my FASFA for me), she has – earlier than I can even remember – always encouraged me to express my feelings. She has always made me feel that my feelings are valid, simply because that’s the way I feel. No other proof or evidence needed. That’s why, growing up, I never understood this unnecessary stigma against mental health issues. I literally came out of the womb with mental health issues. Like I wouldn’t be shocked if I was birthed and looked at my mom and said “girl u fucked”. But my mom never made me feel like it was something that made me different. It was the just the way I am. And I truly never realized that not everyone else was like me.
Entering my spring semester of my second year of grad school, I slipped into a very deep depression. My grades were slipping, I never showed up to clinic, I was constantly crying. The catalyst was a breakup with a boy I had real feelings for. I couldn’t recognize my self worth. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I felt and he didn’t feel the same way about me (I have now subsequently realized that he MUST be gay, because I am an ethereal goddess with zero flaws). This is NOT an excuse for my depression – it is simply just what set me off. This large event had happened, and I was alone in Connecticut, a place I knew I would not thrive and didn’t belong, and I was just stuck.
However, I had been this low before, so I knew the actions I needed to take. I called my therapist and started back up with my weekly sessions, and I expressed to my primary care doctor that I wanted to start back up on my anti depressants and anti anxiety medication. I was extremely proud of myself that even at my lowest of lows, I took action. I did something to make myself stronger.
After taking all of the above necessary steps, I also scheduled a meeting with one of my clinical supervisors to explain why I had not been at my best. When I thought I was in a safe, judgement free zone, I explained to my clinical supervisor what was happening in my personal life. I explained in detail what I was going through, how low I was feeling, and that I was finally taking steps to correct it.
What she said to me next was when I realized that not everyone in the world is as understanding as my mother. She looked at me in the eyes, after I had spent the last 45 minutes inconsolable in her office, and stated, “everybody has mood swings”. Frankly, I was appalled at her behavior. Here I am, genuinely spilling my heart out across her desk, and she had the audacity to equate my clinical depression with MOOD SWINGS.
Now, I have had my fair share of mood swings before. I am a girl, I have a period every month, I am also a self proclaimed drama queen. Hell, I have fucking mood swings every day when I get slightly hungry. Mood swings are not – by any means in the history of all the world – equivalent to your depression. If you are suffering, there is something that I need you to know: OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT IN CHARGE OF TELLING YOU HOW YOU FEEL. YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID BECAUSE THEY ARE YOUR FEELINGS.
My professor’s words were shocking to me. They literally rocked me to my core. But after a long time and a lot of self reflection, I began to legitimately feel sorry for her. And frankly, for her children. I am sorry that your daughter will never feel like she can come to you crying and not know why she is sad. I am sorry that you feel the need to belittle the feelings of others, simply because you do not understand them. I am truly sorry.
In a way, I needed this experience. I needed the experience because it helped me be not only more in touch with my attitude toward mental health, but it honestly and truly helped me be a better friend as well. This woman did not understand what I was going through, so she squashed my feelings like a bug. I do not ever want anyone else to feel the way that I felt that day. Your feelings are valid because they are yours.