As some of you know, one of the main reasons I created my blog was to raise mental health awareness by talking about my personal experiences with depression. Since writing a post about my depression in September, I haven’t really posted as much as I’d would like to on my blog. The reasons for this is (1) I was pretty busy this past semester (more in a later post!) and (2) the difficulty in writing about a complex topic like mental health.
I don’t think depression really ever leaves a person. You overcome depression by learning how to manage it, but that doesn’t mean that depression will never affect you again. In my case, my depression remains a little voice in the back of my head that occasionally comes out to haunt me *dundundunnn* and makes me question my overall recovery from depression. When this happens, which is pretty much always when I sit down to write a blog post, the voice questions my ‘credentials’ to write about the subject and try to empower others.
It’s a voice that tells me that it’s silly to try to break away from my depression, convincing me that I will always be shackled down by its chains. “Hey lil mama“, it whispers in my ears, “I’ve been around for years, don’t go around acting like you done with me“. It mocks me for trying to empower others, pointing out the irony in how I try to write posts while the shadow of depression looms over me.
Depression thrives on self-doubt and it will always try to come back from the dead by trying to convince you that you are no better without it. What I have realized these past few months is that I must take this voice for what it is: a voice. A voice’s power is limited by the amount of power you chose to give it. Likewise, a voice has absolutely no power to do anything, unless it successfully convinces you to act out on its behalf.
And so I throw a peace sign and say, “watch me do my thing” to the little voice that so desperately tries to retain the power that it once had over me. What this also means, my fellow readers, is that you can expect more consistent posts in the upcoming future!
The main reason I created this blog was to share the story of my depression, my recovery, and how it made me the person I am today. Beginning in high school, I suffered from depression for 5-6 years and an eating disorder for 4 years. These years were defined by constant sadness and mental instability, only to be covered up with a ‘happy’ mask during the day to fulfill societal expectations. After coming to FIU, the struggle to hide my depression behind my mask became unbearable. I finally hit rock bottom the spring of my freshman year at FIU and [unwillingly] starting seeking professional help. From the day I dedicated myself to recovery, my journey was anything but easy; it was full of setbacks, breakdowns, frustration, tears, and anger. As someone depressed for so many years; my life only consisted of being depressed and trying to hide it. With my decision to recover, I was destroying everything I knew myself and life to be.
The next two years that followed were essentially a blind mission to create a completely new person out of myself. Depression took most of my teenage years – a significant period of growth in anyone’s life. And so here I was, as a 20 year old, desperately trying to figure out who I was without my depression. Without depression playing center stage in determining my actions and behavior, I had to learn everything about myself: what I liked to do for fun, who I wanted to be, what my strengths and weaknesses were, and even what my personality was like. Similar to a time when you had a presentation for class that you were completely unprepared for, yet you had no choice but to get up and present. Sure, you came up with some BS before class, but on the inside you were low-key freaking out that (1) you’d forget your hastily complied BS, (2) freeze, or (3) be asked questions that you were completely unprepared to answer. This was what my life was like for two years: a time full of anxiety because I lacked complete understanding for who I was as a person (and who desperately hoped that no one would ever put me in a situation I was not prepared to be in.)
What do you do for fun?
– The most basic question asked by someone you just meet and equally one of the most horrifying questions someone suffering/recovering from depression can ever be asked.What do I do for fun? What are my hobbies? What do I enjoy? As someone who was just re-learning the concept of fun, this was one of the many questions that put me in panic-mode. Depression is a world completely absent of fun and it took time for me to discover what I truly enjoyed doing [which is harder than you’d think].
And so my recovery went on – five steps forward, three steps back. With each failure, I learn new things about myself and about life. I eventually learned to trick myself into believing that every setback had a purpose and eventually my ‘failures’ became ‘lessons’. With each passing month, I began to see little changes in how I felt and how I saw the world. I began to appreciate things that I was unable to enjoy in the past. And with these changes, my desire to continue towards recovery grew stronger.
This is not to say that recovery was a walk in the park – it was a tug-of-war between ‘keep on going’ and ‘give up’. Many times, ‘giving up’ almost won because of my frustration with the concept of recovery. How was I to possibly know when my recovery would end and when my depression-free life began? I would constantly question this and get tired spending so much energy and time focusing on my mental health and sanity. I was tired of making progress and then falling into a depression relapse, only to undo all the progress that I had done. My journey often seemed impossible, as I tried to understand who I was as a person, struggling to figure out what parts of my life were a product of my depression and what parts were the real me.
Through these ups and downs, one of the greatest lessons I learned was that I could not accomplish this feat alone. In the moments I wanted to give up and go back to my habits of depression, I turned to my support group to get me back on my feet. Yes, internal motivation and determination is a necessary key in recovery, but having the support of those who have seen you at your worst and want you to be better is just as important.
Within these two years, I had done the impossible: I recreated myself from someone who had no desire to live and had complete hatred towards herself, into someone in love with life and herself. My recovery and the experiences that came with it, have been life changing and responsible for everything I am today. Everyone knows the saying, “mind over matter”, a short, yet powerful statement that suggests that with the right mindset, anything is possible. However, depression handicaps the mind, making every part of daily life a dreadful chore, so doing anything beyond the necessary was exhausting. Now that I’ve learned to manage my depression, I am amazed by the beauty of life and the endless possibilities as to how we can live it.
Now, my depression does not control me; I control my depression. With this new found power, I am excited about life and living it to the fullest: from dressing fabulously to feel good, to traveling the globe to learn about myself and the world. This post is meant to be a gateway to future posts about depression and recovery. By incorporating my recovery as a key element of my blog, I want to challenge the stigma related to mental illnesses and provide a platform to openly discuss depression. My depression and recovery have gifted me with a unique life philosophy that can be related and adapted by anyone. For those battling a mental illness, my hope is to shine light on depression and prove that recovery is very much possible, regardless of how impossible it may seem at any given moment. For those that aren’t, well I hope you become more educated on mental illnesses and reflect my life experiences on your own life.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this post and I hope you check back with my blog soon. 🙂