I’ve always been pretty vocal about mental health awareness, but never necessarily about my own experiences. But that’s the easy way to do it, isn’t it? Stand up for others and pretend that you’re not also standing up for yourself. That way you look noble, not weak. You look wholesome, not broken… Right?
That’s what I used to think, but over time I’ve found that the easy way out is often the most cowardly. Maybe I’m a bit hyper-fixated on my mortality – but as of late I can’t stop thinking about what I would see if my life flashed before my eyes. And I’ve realized that when that moment comes, I won’t be interested in looking back at my life if I lived a cowardly one.
I want that moment to be interesting. I want to be proud of that moment, of this life. So instead of taking the easy way out, I think that today, I’ll be brave.
And instead of writing about my support of those with depression, I’ll share a bit about my own.
Two years ago I wrote this:
“When my alarm rings early in the morning, I snooze it to oblivion. I close my blinds and condemn the sun for trying to force me out of the safe darkness that is my bed. That is my mind.
I hate the things that tell me to get up and live.
Losing your will to live but not necessarily wanting to stop being alive is a strange thing to comprehend. It’s even more difficult to try and explain to someone who has never experienced the same sensation.
Some days are good. A few are even great. On those days, I almost forget what the bad ones feel like. But they come back, oh do they come back. Returning just to knock the wind out of my lungs, to revoke the breath I waited so long to take.
Some days I think it might be all in my head, this depression thing. Then I realize it is.
It is all in my head, and that’s why it’s so real, and so hard to fight. It is all in my head but my head is me, and on these hard, terrible, indescribable days, me is just so tired.”
Today, these days are few and far between – a far cry from the life I was living when I wrote those words above… but I remember them vividly.
It’s hopelessness on a perfect sunny day – the kind of day where even the birds sound happier than usual. It’s an inexplicable heaviness in your limbs and exhaustion after a full night of sleep. It’s constantly being overwhelmed over the most nonsensical things, feeling like the wrong turn will result in the wrong life. It’s feeling and feeling and feeling so much, and sometimes feeling nothing at all. It’s a thick layer of fog over your eyes, like your glasses when you open the dishwasher. Like cotton balls in your ears. It’s disconnect.
It’s loneliness when you’re surrounded by people. It’s the fear of being seen because when you look in the mirror even you don’t like what you see. It’s being unable to imagine a place where you would fit, feeling too large for the small places, and too small for the large. Sometimes it sounds like screaming. Sometimes it sounds like silence. Sometimes it sounds like a whisper of “we had no idea,” after the final note of the funeral march.
Diseases don’t always look the way we think they should – on the outside they might look like nothing at all. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and I’d argue that that’s when they can be the most dangerous.
If you can’t relate to this, chances are you know someone who could. Mental illness is much more common than we like to think. But maybe if we would just accept that, people would stop feeling so alone, and so afraid.
I hope you listen to your people today, but also tomorrow, even though there isn’t a hashtag for tomorrow. I hope you don’t ever tell someone that what they’re experiencing isn’t real. I hope you pay attention to your words because they might mean more than you think. I hope you are kind when you can be, and you apologize when you should. I hope I remember to do all of these things, too.
And if you’re suffering, I hope you don’t ever feel bad for feeling bad. I hope you realize that your brain isn’t broken, and you aren’t broken. I hope you learn that you were created to feel.
I hope you reach the light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope that light isn’t actually an end but a new beginning. I hope you can get up in the morning even if you hate the sun and your alarm, and even if sometimes you might hate yourself. I hope you live to realize that you owe yourself another day. I hope you get the help you need, and that you’re not embarrassed to seek it out. You shouldn’t be. You were created to feel, and I hope you stay alive to feel the good days.