How I'm Learning to Be OK With My Depression
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
I was an A* student, and now I am not.
I had top schools willing to educate me for free, and now I do not.
I was loved by a boy, and now I am not.
I was surrounded by friends, and now I am not.
Within a year, I have transitioned from being an impressive student with high-functioning depression and hidden anorexia nervosa to being the “uneducated” black sheep of the family with debilitating depression and binge eating disorder.
I went from being severely underweight to being severely overweight.
I went from being a star student to being a dropout.
(Note: Being overweight or a dropout is not a bad thing for everyone – I am just giving an honest portrayal of how I have changed due to my depression and the way my depression uses it against me.)
I went from exercising and studying obsessively to refusing to move from my bed.
And I am not OK.
Sometimes, when I read articles written by people battling depression, I feel myself sink a little further into my pit of self-hate. When I read about how they are continuing their education and working on their relationships, it makes my insides vibrate. It makes my blood boil and my head spin.
And as silly and humiliating as it is, I will admit I am jealous. I am jealous of everyone who seems happy – even if I know they aren’t always happy.
It hurts me to know other people have their lives together and it hurts me even more when those other people struggle with the same mental illnesses I do.
Because it takes away my “excuse.”
Because it means I should be able to have my life together too. But I don’t. I’m a mess and so is the life I once had.
I cannot describe how painful that single thought can be. Once it enters my mind, the rest of the day — maybe even week or month — is ruined. It will be spent dreaming about all the things I have done wrong.
I’ll have nightmares about where I made my biggest mistakes. I’ll wish to rewind to a year ago, or two, three. No, four. I’ll pray to a god I don’t believe in, asking him to allow this all to be one big nightmare.
But eventually, after crying and screaming and just sitting, I always come to the same conclusion: It doesn’t matter how many times I start my life again. I would have always been vulnerable to depression and I would have always been susceptible to eating disorders. In each of these possible lives, I would still have times where all I wanted to do was disappear.
Clearly, this conclusion hasn’t yet been accepted by my brain because each day I wake up and go through the same thought process.
Therefore I also spend each day wanting to die, which leaves me absolutely no time to get my life together. No time to fix things, but plenty of time to hate the way they are.
So I am not OK.
And I regret pretty much every decision I have ever made because that’s what depression does. It takes away your future by making you distrust and despise your past.
But that’s OK. I am learning to accept that it is OK.
I’m not as strong as a lot of other writers are in their battle with mental illness. In fact, I have pretty much given up on the idea of ever having a happy life. And even though I try (please don’t doubt that I do try), I can’t convince myself to follow the example of the other warriors I read about. I read their words — stories begging me to learn from their experiences, lists that were created for people like me to use in recovery – and walk away empty.
I don’t write in a bullet journal. Instead, I get frustrated at the mess in my room that I refuse to clean.
I can’t control my emotions long enough to use my coping skills. Instead, I become angry at the people around me.
I don’t eat healthily. Instead, eat cake and ice cream five (yes, five) meals a day.
I don’t get up in the morning and go for a jog. Heck, I don’t even “get up” in the morning because I sleep in the day and stay awake at night. Instead, I sleep excessively and refuse to leave my bed
I don’t forgive and forget the small things people say. But, I do speak up for myself when things are said. And that is one thing – one thing – that is good in a list of bad. And I am so proud of that one thing.
I might not be recovering like other people, but I have worked to be at a point where I can stand up for my illness.
So I’m not doing amazingly in my fight with depression. And I’m not in a place where I can give you all lots of advice about how to curb your personal experience with it (most of you are probably stronger and smarter than I am!) but the one thing I can tell you to do is not to beat yourself up in the race to “fix” your life. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because everyone is different and depression hits us all differently. That doesn’t make you weak.
Maybe I am the only one who is sensitive enough to get hurt by reading about other’s progress, but if any of you feel the way I often do, then I hope this gives you some comfort. Being proud of your small victories allows you to be happy for others whilst still staying comfortable with your own progress – and though I haven’t mastered this myself, I hope to learn.
If your life has to be put on hold, then that’s OK. It will just have to wait because your health is far more important.
Be proud of where you are, even if you are crying (yes, ugly crying is included) and haven’t showered in days.
Because you are alive. You have fought with the demons that plague you and have done well enough to stay alive, and that is a big enough step for today.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via Medioimages/Photodisc