It’s hard to admit that there’s a problem. Saying that failure is important, vital, just a part of every day life is easy. Actually believing it is another thing-heart and mind aren’t as synchronous as we hope.
I have depression.
I’ve been avoiding it for such a long time that I was actually surprised when it stopped me from getting out of bed. When it sapped me of all energy, when it stole my motivation, blurred my focus, and made me question my existence.
I will not apologize for having depression, it only creates this circular thought train that solves nothing. Just like an allergy or any persistent illness, depression is a sickness and I have it, it is not something that I chose.
I will apologize for not dealing with it sooner, for not seeking help earlier, for thinking that I could deal with it alone. For the past three weeks it debilitated me-I couldn’t do the things that I loved doing-the mere thought of trying to write made me sweat and froze my heart. I couldn’t deal with the responsibilities that I chose to take because I care about them, because it made me think that I would fail immediately, that I would let down the people around me. I couldn’t speak to the people I love because I didn’t trust myself to be the person that they thought I was, because I wasn’t me. I was trying to be me but I couldn’t have been because there was this creature gripping my heart, reaching up and through my mind, its tentacles holding everything dead still as I desperately tried to live.
“Should” is now a word that I’m wary of, because I’ve realized how prevalent dissonance is. What is on the outside, what is spoken is often not what’s on the inside, the true motivating factor. Should I have gone to professionals earlier? Absolutely. Should I have told my loved ones how I’ve been feeling? Yes. Should I let this illness define me? Should I let it take away the things that I love? Restrict the things that I do? Be the first thing that I think about when I wake up? It’s easy to say no to all of these things-if you live in a utopia. But we don’t.
Mental illness is taboo. It is an easy excuse, made up, fantasy, weakness. Being Chinese, being American-mental illness is regarded as something that happened to others, and always with an eye roll attached. In a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 42.5 million Americans (18.2% of the population) suffer from mental illness. Of those, 9.3 million are afflicted so seriously that it impedes with day-to-day activity. These numbers are probably lower than what is really out there since many people don’t get the help that they need. I didn’t.
The paranoia that paralyzed me as I realized that I may have a problem wasn’t born from the idea that there may not be a solution but from the thoughts of what others would think of me; my friends, family, professors, peers, employers. However, the stigma of mental illness doesn’t just hurt the individual suffering. It hurts those around us, it stresses prisons systems, fills the street with homeless, crowds hospitals. I highly recommend reading about the importance of dealing with mental illness, USA Today has a great multi-story feature.
I’m getting professional help and I’m more than ready (though a little nervous) to work towards becoming the person that I know that I can be. I am still the hard working, responsible, clever (?) person that I was before depression took over my life. I’m so thankful for the family and friends that I have, for the amazing support systems I didn’t realize I have (and that you probably have to.) I wouldn’t have had the strength to get the help that I need without my loved ones.
If you feel like you are drowning, suffocating, paralyzed, pinned down, whatever imagery that works with how you’re feeling, talk to someone. Consider speaking with a professional, you are worth it, your mind, your sanity is worth it. If you are having any destructive thoughts please call this hotline (if you are in the US) 1-800-273-8255. Know that you aren’t alone, that I’m right beside you. That regardless of what your mind (or others (what jerks)) are saying about you, that you deserve love-not just to receive it, but to give it as well. To anyone that I know IRL, please know that I am here if you’d like to talk about anything that is bothering you, don’t be afraid-I’m the last person to judge.
Happy Thanksgiving. I know that I’m thankful of pretty much everything right now, especially all of my family and friends supporting me.
I love you.
P.S. It feels so good to write again. Try it, you’re probably better than I am 😉