The main reason I created this blog was to share my mental health story. It is 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, heaviness, and mental instability. This sadness was covered up with a daily ‘happy’ mask 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 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. In words that follow, I will share my mental health story and how I overcame my depression.
The next two years that followed was 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. There I was, a 20 year old, desperately trying to figure out who she was without her depression. My depression took center stage. It determined my actions and behavior. By pushing it to the sidelines, I needed to learn everything about myself. What I liked to do for fun? Who did I want to be? What were my strengths and weaknesses? Who was I?
I could compare this experience to a giving a presentation. Imagine that you have a presentation for class that you are completely unprepared for. Yet, you have no choice but to go up and present. Sure, you came up with some BS before class, but on the inside you are low-key freaking out. Maybe you will forget your hastily complied BS. Will you freeze? Perhaps someone will ask questions that you’re 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. I desperately hoped to not be put in a situation like that.
A simple situation like that could start with this common question: What do you do for fun?
This is the most basic question to be asked by someone you just meet. Yet, it is equally one of the most horrifying questions to someone suffering/recovering from depression.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. It took me a long time 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 life. I eventually learned to trick myself into believing that every setback had a purpose. Eventually, my ‘failures’ became ‘lessons’. With each passing month, I began to see little changes in how I felt and I saw the world. I began to appreciate things that I was unable to enjoy in the past. With these noticeable changes, my desire to continue towards recovery grew stronger.
This is not to say that recovery was easy. 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? When would my depression-free life begin? I constantly questioned my journey and got tired spending so much energy focusing on my mental health. I was tired of making progress only to fall into a depression relapse and undo my progress. My journey often seemed impossible. I struggled with understanding who I was as a person. It was difficult separating which parts of myself were a product of my depression and which parts were the real me.
Through these ups and downs, one of my greatest lessons was that I could not accomplish this feat alone. My mental health story could not be complete without the support that I received. There were moments when I wanted to give up and go back to my habits of depression. At times like these, I turned to my support group to get me back on my feet. Yes, internal motivation and determination is a necessary key in recovery. However, 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 did 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, were life changing. They are responsible for who I am today. Everyone knows the saying, “mind over matter”. It is 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. With a mental illness, doing anything beyond the necessary is exhausting. Now that I learned to manage my depression, I am humbled by the beauty of life.
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. I love to express myself through fashion and travel to learn about myself and the world. This post is an introduction to me and why I started this blog. By incorporating my recovery as a key element of my blog, I want to challenge the stigma related to mental illnesses. This is meant to be a platform to openly discuss depression. My depression and recovery 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. Recovery is very much possible, regardless of how impossible it may seem at any given moment. For those fortunate enough to not struggle with mental health, I hope you use my experiences to reflect on your own life.
This is my mental health story. It is not finished, but I overcame the worst. In the sequel, my mental health story focuses on others. My goal is to help other change their views regarding mental health and illnesses.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this post and I hope you check out my blog. 🙂