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Fighting for Yourself Is Worth It

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If I had to describe my depression at its lowest, when I kept how suffocated I was feeling to myself, I would describe it as if I was standing in a circle of my family and friends. It’s dark and their faces are blurry. I’m spinning frantically looking from blurry face to blurry face, desperately seeking someone who could help me. Someone who would reach out to me. My experience has taught me that sometimes you also have to reach out to people too.

Asking for help has been both the most scariest and worthwhile action I have ever taken in my life. At first I was all alone in my experience of depression and anxiety. I was terrified of my family and friends finding out just how much I was struggling and being disappointed in me. In my mind I had to be perfect 110% of the time. I worked, I went to uni, I trained often and I tried to keep a social life. I knew I’d started to reach my breaking point when I was using “maladaptive coping practices” (as my therapist so eloquently put it — aka, self-harm), and I was falling to my knees sobbing on the floor of my bathroom daily. Big aching sobs racking my body as my mind raced with thoughts of ending the daily fight that was my mind with itself.

Reaching out for help occurred for me in the form of my close friend. One night when I was feeling particularly caught in my own head I called him needing to hear someone’s voice that wasn’t my own and without intending to ended up laying out exactly how I’d been feeling. I censored nothing. He encouraged me to get help and the next day I was seeing my favorite doctor and leaving with a referral for a psychologist and a script for antidepressants.

I quickly learned that was the easy part. In my mind you started treatment and then you’d magically be fine. Just FYI, you will not magically be fine. Recovery has been hard. I’ve learned simply talking to someone and taking the pills isn’t enough, you have to actually put in effort – wild idea, right? You have to practice what techniques your therapist helps you put in place to combat your mind when it plays tricks on you. And I’ve learned you have to look after yourself in the form of self-care, even if it means saying no to other people so you can say yes to yourself. Recovery is sometimes selfish.

My experience has taught me that self-harm is not just writing your pain on your body. Self-harm is also not eating that day because you feel you don’t deserve it because you couldn’t find the motivation to do anything. It’s also trying to exercise with a body starved of energy because your mind has convinced you you’re unattractive and after just a few sluggish reps having to admit defeat, telling your coach you simply can’t do the workout that day. “Oh I just haven’t eaten enough, haha.” If only they knew.

Recently I had the phrase “Lux in tenebris” tattooed on my forearm. In Latin it means “light in darkness,” and it’s my constant reminder there’s always light to be found when I’m lost in the dark (thanks to The Amity Affliction and their killer song lyrics for that piece of inspiration). In no way am I recovered, and I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. Some days I soar, some days I stumble and some days I fall in a heap. Recently my recovery took a few steps back, but writing this has made me realize just how far I’ve come. It’s never going to be easy, but it’s worth it. Fighting for yourself is worth it.

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

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 “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo by ukayacan

Originally published: March 28, 2017
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