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When You Don't Have Enough Energy to Hate How Depression Makes You Feel

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This piece was written by Holly Riordan, a Thought Catalog contributor.

I don’t feel like doing anything.

It’s not out of laziness. It’s not because I would rather sleep.

If someone asked me to, I could easily get out of bed, get dressed and run a mile. I could force myself to smile and laugh and look like a “functional” human being.

But while doing those things, I wouldn’t feel a thing.

It’s not that I’m numb. It’s not that I’m emotionless. Honestly, I don’t know what I am.

All I know is that I’m not excited about anything anymore, not even the things that used to bring me joy. Seeing my friends. Listening to music. Eating my favorite meals.

Everything feels bleh. Like I haven’t fully woken up yet.

I’m not a robot. I still experience happiness — but it’s fleeting. I’ll laugh hard over a joke or smile through an entire episode of my favorite show, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll snap right back to my sadness.

It’s like the happy moment never happened at all. Like it was wiped from my brain as soon as it ended.

I’m not able to grasp onto anything. I can only hold onto it for a second before it slips out of my hands.

I don’t know what will make me feel better, and honestly, I don’t feel like doing anything.

The worst part is that I don’t feel guilty over it. I could spend the entire day sitting on the couch, staring into space, and I wouldn’t be mad at myself for being unproductive. I’m just done caring.

I know the consequences. If I don’t go to class, I could fail the course. If I don’t brush my teeth, I could get a cavity. If I don’t text my friend back, I could lose them forever. But what does it matter? Right now, it doesn’t seem to matter at all.

When my brain wanders, it doesn’t even know what to wander toward anymore. What should I spend my time thinking about? What matters to me?

Nothing. Everything? I don’t know.

I wish I had enough energy to hate the way I’ve been feeling, but I don’t. It’s just an inconvenience I hope will end soon. It’s making it hard for me to be a good friend, a good worker, a good human.

I feel like my brain is broken. Like something is out of place.

I have no idea how to fix it, but I hope I figure it out soon.

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

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Unsplash photo via Jimmy Bay.

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How I'm Learning to Accept Being Unable to Work Because of My Mental Illness

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When people look at me, they just see a woman. Nothing visible to them in any way depicts a 27-year-old woman who is unable to work.

But that is not the case. It is not easy to meet new people and have to say that you are unemployed. The usual stigma applies, “Oh, she must just be lazy and not ‘want’ to work.”

Well, no. Sorry I do “want” to work, but what you can’t see is a woman who takes two hours just to wake up and feel even the slightest fraction of a possibility of facing the day.

Do I want to leave the house? That entails more energy than I currently have. When it comes to showering, dressing and making my way to whichever destination I want to reach, it all feels like I am about to undertake a marathon.

I know people who wake up at the same time every day. Regardless of the way they slept the night before. Regardless of whether they are actually required to be anywhere. They get up, they undertake those tasks and off they go to face their day. I look at these people and cannot understand how they don’t realize just how well off they are to be able to do such menial tasks and not become exhausted and ready to hop back into bed.

These people always offer the same advice. That one pesky little word that pops up all the time and makes me want to rip my hair out.

Routine.

We have all heard it. Usually in the form of some sort of sentence that is meant to be helpful but really is just patronizing. “Oh, you just need a routine. That’ll make you feel better.” Sorry, but it just does not work that way, and I hope you never have to experience this blackness and finally understand why it is not that simple.

This is why I am learning to feel somewhat “OK” with saying, “I’m actually on disability, and not working currently. Though I do hope to someday achieve that goal of returning to the workforce.”

If I cannot even rely on myself to wake up in the morning and be able to brush my teeth, I surely am not going to have someone employ me and then let them down as well. I would rather the occasional feelings of shame of disability payments than the guilt of taking a job from a perfectly capable employee somewhere.

I know in my heart I am not yet a capable employee, and I have to accept that and be OK with it. Maybe once I do manage to do that, I will feel some sense of peace.

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Unsplash photo via Martin Miranda.

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The Aftermath of a Bad Night With Depression

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Today has been a bad day.

The sun has been shining, but I haven’t really seen it.

The aftermath of an episode of chronic pain and anxiety last night, which lasted nearly six hours. Six hours I spent in bed alone, hungry and in pain, desperate and alone. Six hours I spent choking on my own tears and struggling with each breath. An over-exaggeration, right? I’m sure a lot of people think so. But not even my own memory of it can really express just how horrible it was — or how difficult it was to go through alone. I tried reaching out to people. It took hours for me to text my boyfriend or to try get in contact with my mum. And when I finally did they tried to give me advice, which didn’t help. It’s not their fault. In that moment all I wanted was to not be alone. All I needed was to let out everything going on inside me with someone there beside me just for the sake of having someone there with me to love me. But the thought of having to leave my room and show myself to my house mates was too much. And no one else could get to me.

I was sleep-deprived and anxious and I hated myself more than anything. I hated myself for feeling so pathetic, for feeling sorry for myself when people have it so much worse. I tried telling myself to stop it. I tried reminding myself how blessed I am. But that only made it worse. The pain wouldn’t stop. I felt hopeless and I couldn’t describe or understand what was going on in my brain or my body. The Samaritans phone line was busy, and I felt so defeated.

Eventually I rolled over and left my phone on silent because I couldn’t bear the light and I couldn’t bear the conversations people were trying to have with me. I lay there for a while until my tears dried and my thoughts became quiet enough for me to sleep.

I woke up still with pain in my back, lethargic, ashamed and unmotivated. I went back to sleep, and when I woke again nothing had changed. I was dehydrated and hungry, but the thought of eating made me feel sick.

I felt incapable of leaving my room because I didn’t want to be seen. It took hours of failed attempts to get myself out of bed to get food after not eating at all last night. Around lunchtime I managed to bring myself to go downstairs and get myself breakfast and come back to bed.

It took me another four hours to get myself in the shower, even though normally I hate the thought or feeling of being dirty. It’s something I can get quite obsessive about. I put my clothes back on and I looked at myself in the mirror. Looking at myself is hard at the minute. As silly as that sounds, I just hate it. But I stared anyway… and I thought about the many times I’ve been here before, and I thought about the steps I’ve taken to recover after these battles. And I realized…

I’ve got this.

And although I didn’t feel great in myself I decided to grab my phone and take a picture — because even though it’s been a bad day, it’s not a bad life, and as much as I tell myself it sometimes, I’m not a failure. I’m not lazy, I’m not bad… I’m not ugly. I’m radiant. I cover my face because I’m breaking out… but that’s OK too.

I had to cancel my driving test this morning due to headaches, back pain and panic, and that in itself feels like yet another failure and disappointment. Normally I stick to a healthy diet, I prepare my meals in advance, I work out and for the past few months I’ve been able to make myself get up and keep busy, but the last couple of days have been really tough, and in several ways I’ve felt like I failed, miserably, but that’s OK. Because I survived. I survived this before, and I will again. In many ways I’ve failed, but in one specific way I have succeeded. I didn’t hurt myself.

And that is progress. And slowly, I will get myself up again and I will carry on. And that is a magnificent triumph.

Though I have fallen, I will rise.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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5 Blessings I've Found in My Depression

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One of the reasons I think it took as long as it did for anyone to diagnose my depression was the fear of stigma, that I would allow my mental illness to define me. And while my depression has taken me to hell and back, I want to reclaim the label. In a lot of ways, depression is something I’m proud of. Actually, my biggest fear in starting medication is that the medicine would take away my depression. This seems counter-intuitive because the whole reason I should take anti-depressants is to no longer be depressed. But while it’s awful to experience at times, it also makes up a large portion of my life experience, has shaped who I am and is actually a huge part of my personality. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but at the same time, I’m grateful for the positive qualities it gives me. Part of my recovery from this latest episode has been practicing gratitude. And while some days I’m not able to appreciate these things, while I’m having a good day, I’m going to count my blessings.

1. Depression allows me to experience more joy.

For me, my mental illness manifests itself in some very low lows and some very high highs. I have a huge emotional range. I’m not sure if it’s just that the happy times feel so much better compared to the dark ones or if I just have a broader emotional spectrum than average, but this is one of my most defining qualities. A lot of people describe me as “intense,” and I am fully experiencing every moment of this beautiful and broken life.

2. Depression drives me to connect.

While depression can certainly isolate me when I’m not at my best, when I’m functional I have an enhanced drive to express myself and establish genuine connections with those around me. This blog, for example, is creative connecting. I don’t like emotional walls. I’m not afraid to go to those deep and dark places with someone else because I’ve been there so many times myself.

3. Depression gives me heightened emotional intelligence.

Speaking of walls, I can tell when someone has one up. It’s taken me a while, but I’m learning to sense when someone’s just not ready to let me in yet. But I can still tell something is going on and how they’re feeling — and I’m prepared and waiting there if they ever want support. This ability has allowed me to connect, to find others going through similar experiences and to stumble across moments where people are going through some of their hardest times. If I can even just be a witness to their struggles and their joys, this is totally worth it.

4. Depression gives me self-awareness.

Learning to function with depression has told me a lot about what goes on in my brain. I know whether I need space or need to talk about something or when it’s just a bad day and I need to spend it in bed. I am always analyzing my actions, searching for a motive. Is it depression? Or do I really want to eat an entire pizza in front of “The Mindy Project” tonight? And while I can’t just “try to be happy,” there are some things I’ve learned lessen the effects of illness. For example, I love animals and they make a huge improvement in my mental health. I let my fiance buy a hideous shower curtain with cartoon rainbow blowfish on it just because it gave me mild amusement on one of my worst days. If something makes me feel anything but misery on my dark days, I know I absolutely love it on my good ones.

5. Depression forces me to accept unconditional love.

I think a lot of us have a hard time accepting that we are loved no matter what. We feel we need to have better jobs, or have better grades, or be prettier before we are worthy of love. With depression, I have been forced to accept I am worthy. Sometimes when people find out about my more recent depressive episode, they point out that it must be a strain on my relationship with my fiance. While it’s been a huge struggle for both of us and probably always will be, going through this has made our relationship stronger than it ever has been. If I ever had any doubt that he loves me know matter what, I have none now.

On nights when I would cry for hours, on days when I would lay in bed, numb, simply laying there, on days where I made irresponsible decisions to try and alleviate the dark feelings, he was by my side. Even when I couldn’t tell him I loved him back, he never stopped telling me. One night when he told me, I began to cry. He thought the worst, that it was the depression continuing to break me down. In reality, it had just hit me how loved I was even though I was an absolute mess. They were tears of both joy and pain. It was almost painful to accept. I finally realized that all my life I have been trying to earn love when it’s really just there all the time — you don’t have to earn it. And if my fiance and my family love me unconditionally, why can’t I? I’m still working on finding my self-love, but I know it’s there, deep down beneath the lies I tell myself.

If I’m going to love myself, I have to love everything that makes me me – and that includes my depression. So for now, I am proud and depressed. While this is so unique to me and mental illness manifests itself in many different ways, I imagine a lot of people out there have similar experiences. I know some of my friends and family who have anxiety and OCD have enhanced focus at times and bigger imaginations. To those of you out there who can relate: don’t accept the stigma, but please accept yourself.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel, via Unsplash

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How It Felt When a Nurse Practitioner Disregarded My Mental Health Diagnoses

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I love to read stories on The Mighty. One type of story always makes me mad: individuals who are treated poorly by doctors or nurses.

I am a junior in college enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, so stories about nurses and doctors acting unprofessionally hits close to home. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath in which they pledge “to do no harm.” Nurses do not take this oath, but we have values that we pledge to follow, one of which is “non-maleficence,” or “do no harm.” If you ask a premed student or a nursing student why they chose this profession, most will respond it is because they wanted to help others. I do not understand how the desire to help others transforms into treating patients poorly.

Until now, I had been fortunate enough to say I had never been treated poorly by a medical professional. That is, until getting my mental health diagnosis and seeing a doctor who was not my primary doctor. Today, I had to get a physical for a summer nursing externship. I had an appointment at 8 a.m. at the hospital’s employee health department. I arrived with my paperwork filled out. I had reviewed the paperwork a few weeks prior to the appointment. The paperwork included basic questions including a list of medical questions which you were supposed to check, and a space for you to list what medications you were taking. As I was filling out the paperwork, I questioned the need for my employer to know my mental health diagnoses (anxiety, depression, ADHD and insomnia), and considered excluding them.  However, I knew when I listed my medications it would become apparent that I had mental health diagnoses. I decided to list my diagnoses, the medications I was on, completed the paperwork and forgot about it, until today.

Everything with my physical went smoothly until I met with the nurse practitioner. She walked in, sat down and looked at the paperwork. The conversation went as follows:

“Who diagnosed you with anxiety and depression?” The nurse asked.

“College health services,” I said.

“You didn’t get diagnosed by a doctor?” She rolled her eyes.

“Yes, I did, I saw a doctor through health services.” (As a note, the doctors at my university are employed through the hospital I was receiving my physical from. It is common knowledge that the doctors at my university also work at this hospital.)

“But you didn’t get diagnosed by your primary care physician?” She asked.

“Yes, I got diagnosed through my doctor at health services.”

“Never mind.” She sighed and flipped the page over. “I see you’re on medication. Who prescribed you that?”

“My doctor at health services.”

“They prescribed you this medication? Why?” She looked me up and down.

“Yes, and for my ADHD.”

She mumbled something under her breath.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you. What did you say?” I asked. It was a genuine question.

“I said you don’t need it. You don’t need the other medication either. You don’t have ADHD, and you obviously don’t have depression. You’re just another college student looking for drugs. If you would have seen a real doctor they wouldn’t have given you any of that.”

“OK, thank you.”  I said.

She rolled her eyes again.

After that conversation, she performed her physical assessment, told me I was done and the nurse would be back with any forms, and left. During the conversation, I was just annoyed. I was in a hurry, had a train to catch and didn’t have time for her questions. On the train, I started thinking.

I was diagnosed with medical conditions by a medical doctor. A doctor who works as the same hospital as the nurse practitioner I saw. My doctor has seen me since October of 2014. Not only does he communicate with my counselor to see what she thinks, he talks to me. He gets to know me. He asks me questions about my classes, my family, my friends and how I am doing. He knows me and based his diagnoses on communicating with me. He talked with me about the advantages and disadvantages of starting medication. He provided me with options, and let me choose which option I wanted. We mutually decided medication was the best route for me to go. He continually meets with me to see how the medication is working. He is the type of doctor that I as a nurse hope to be working with someday.

Dear Nurse Practitioner,

You don’t know me, and you didn’t care to get to know me before making judgments. I am more than a piece of paper. I am more than my diagnoses and my medications. I am a human being. I can not be summed up by a diagnosis or a pill. Mental health doesn’t discriminate. You don’t have to look a certain way to be depressed or to have ADHD. So yes I need medication. Yes, I have ADHD and depression. Also, I see a real doctor. He’s pretty awesome, too. He took the time to get to know me. To any individual who has also had the unfortunate experience of being treated with disrespect by a medical professional, I am sorry. Nurses and doctors are supposed to be there to help and care for people. We promise to do no harm and some medical professionals seem to have forgotten that. Please do not let them discourage you. Your feelings, symptoms and experiences are valid. You deserve to be treated with respect. Please keep fighting to get the treatment you deserve.

From,

A Future Nurse

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Thinkstock photo via Ingram Publishing.

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The Meltdown That Made Me Realize I Was Actually Getting Better

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It is 1:32 a.m. My windows are open. The night is cool. My light is on and I’m laying in bed still in the clothes I was in when I came home at 10:30 p.m. from work. I know that I smell like coffee and chocolate and possibly a bit sweaty, but my nose is too clogged from my allergies to smell anything at all. I am scrolling through Facebook, the little pictures and words going too fast for my eyes to actually recognize who I’m seeing and for my brain to actually process what I’m reading. From the outside, all is well.

On the inside, I am screaming. I want to cry. I want to throw things. I want to wake everyone up. I want to break things. I want to bang my head against the wall until I can process nothing but the pain.

I want, I want, I want turns into I need, I need, I need.

Instead, I lay very still. My fingers continue to flick upwards. I scroll faster. I have never felt more comforted by the steady blue bar on the top of the page. No matter how quickly I scroll, it will remain.

I count my tabs. Twenty.

I count them again.

I count them again.

I count them again.

I am still screaming.

I pull up my notes and think about the things I need to do. Take a shower. Take your medication. Go to sleep.

The cursor blinks, and my fingers are poised to begin typing. They find my trackpad. I find the red x. I am staring at Facebook again.

I count them again. My fingers clench and unclench.

I count them again. This time, I mouth the words but no sounds emerge. For now, the feeling of my lips moving to form the familiar shapes of the numbers is enough.

I count past 20 until I reach 300.

I try to think about what to do next. My mind is blank. I try again. I try again. I try again.

I am crying. Sound has yet to emerge. I try to think about why I am sad.

I have not showered in two days.

Strike one.

I have not worked out in two weeks.

Strike two.

I have not been consistently taking my medication.

Strike three.

I’m out.

Suddenly, it’s not a mystery anymore. For a fleeting moment, I am proud of myself for being able to recognize it.

I get out of bed and walk to the other side of my room, stepping over the clothes scattered all over my floor until I arrive to the full body mirror hanging on my bathroom door.

For a moment, I am back in college. For a moment, I want to throw myself onto the floor and wait for the morning to come. For a moment, I am completely and utterly disgusted with myself. But then my eyes find the black scribbles on my mirror.

“You are beautiful.”

“Smile sunshine.”

“The reflection in this mirror does not reflect your self worth.”

I think back to a happier day when I took my sharpie and quickly scribbled these messages along my mirror. I knew I would need them.

I find my own eyes and hold my own gaze. I do not know how long I stand there for.

It feels like an eternity before I break the silence of the night with a voice I do not initially recognize as my own.

“Thank you.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via alien185

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