Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Depressed and okay.

Hello. I have depression. 

Most of you already know that. It's no secret. For those of you who didn't, don't be afraid, saying all of this is a good thing. It helps, everyone, I believe.

I've accepted my illness, I've accepted that it blurs the lines between who I am and the ways in which I struggle. I've accepted that I'm going to have to live my life in a way that continually tries to cope with this, and that that's okay. What I'm finding hard to accept is how I'm still coming across people who refuse to see past the fact that on the surface I am a confident, happy person who enjoys life, and yet can also have depression; People that haven't experienced a mental illness and therefore refuse to believe that it can be anywhere near as bad as I (and many others) describe it to be. 

I'm taking some time off right now: I've finally accepted that I need it to recover, that I should listen to the advice that I would give another person. Continuing on with the theme of visibility from my last post, I feel I have to expand on a much more personal level. Again, this is for me, but also anyone else who needs it.

I feel that it needs to be made clear that yes, I'm a person who smiles and laughs and acts like a fool. I'm a person who spends hours (ridiculous I know) on her make up. I'm a person who can be the life and soul of the party. A person who shows enthusiasm. A person who shows love. Who can get up on stage and perform, who can be really motivated and productive, who can be creative, expressive.
But none of that takes away the fact that I'm also a person whose thoughts sometimes race around at a pace I can't keep up with, that can't always fully focus on a conversation because her brain is intent on concerning her with what the other person must be thinking. A person who often feels like they're walking around in a fog. A person who sometimes experiences stress in an inappropriately impactful way. That really struggles to be in a room where there's a lot of noise. That struggles to retain information because her brain is intent on worrying about trivial things that usually amount to nothing instead. That I'm a person whose mood sometimes goes from content to intensely irritable then to tearful in an hour.
The fact that sometimes I have this ball of dread in my stomach, tingling in my legs, beads of sweat dripping down my back (nice) for no reason. That sometimes my brain tells me I'm useless, that life is hopeless and I try so hard to fight with these thoughts because I know it isn't true. That sometimes I don't know what to say or how to express anything. That being in a group of (especially new) people turns me into a quiet little weirdo because my brain keeps telling me they won't like me, even though I know that's not true either. That I want to say "sorry, I know I'm coming across as weird, quiet, apathetic, a bit useless, I just have depression." 

That all of this is only sometimes. That it's okay for me to not be okay. That it's okay for me to be both depressed and okay.

That I struggle almost every day on the inside. That I have no control over this, only coping methods. That probably 90% of these struggles are invisible.

Depression is much more than "sadness". Depression is also sometimes much less than lying on a heap on the floor. No matter whether it affects my life in a big or a small way that day, it's there.
It's okay not to understand, in fact in a way it's great: I'm so glad that you haven't had to feel this, but that doesn't mean it isn't valid for me, and every other person who lives with an invisible illness. You can never fully know what another person has gone through. Never forget that. Never take that away from anyone. Respect their experience, ask them about it, listen to what they need, be there, support them. That's all.

I've thought a lot about what "recovery" actually means for me, and what I intend to spend my time off doing in order to return to things feeling better. I came to the decision that during this time of recovery I want to focus my life around four themes: I want to do things that make me feel happy, feel hopeful, feel good about myself and that address my problems. Even better if I can cover all four themes at once. I'm going to try the best that I can, each day at a time to do that. Wish me luck.

I'm sorry if that was rant-y, and non-cohesive but I published the words as they came out and I'm okay with it.

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