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If You Met Me, You Wouldn’t Know I Have Depression

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Everyone has an opinion on it, but unless you struggle with it, you can never really understand it. I wanted to explain my story, but not for sympathy. I don’t want that. I want people to try and understand what it is, how we feel and, more importantly, I want you to recognize the signs and help someone else.

Being in your 20s is already a challenging time. You’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. You may be dating, and you are coming to terms with yourself as an individual. All of this with an extra, black cloud hanging over you is tough.

So you might ask how does a girl in her 20s, with a university degree, a master’s, a job and an amazing family have depression? Well it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg story. I don’t know whether I had depression first and then developed an eating disorder or the other way around. Yet, ever since I was 15 or 16, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, something I’ve only recently admitted and started to get help with. So as you can imagine being in denial for more than 10 years messes with your head.

If you met me, then you wouldn’t know I have depression. Most people don’t know. I don’t walk around with a permanent frown. I’m bubbly. I love to laugh, but like everyone, I have good days and bad days. Sometimes, my bad days can turn into a bad week.

I can’t tell you what triggers my bad days. I don’t know myself. I could be fine one minute, and then, the next I have an overwhelming feeling I can’t cope, I’m overcome with anxiety and I feel suffocated.

Some days, I wake up with this feeling, and I struggle to bring myself to get up out of bed. All I want to do is hide away from the world and be in the quiet. If I manage to get myself out of bed, then I spend all day at my desk distracted, anxious and more often than I like, I’m reduced to tears.

The reason? I have no idea. It just happens. I lose appetite and painful headaches have become a normality.

No, I can’t just snap out of it. No, I can’t just “be happy.” I don’t have that luxury. I want to be fine. I just don’t know how to. Instead, the word “fine” has become my most used word.

“I’m fine, honestly.”

It protects myself and the ones I love from how I really feel. When you have depression, you spend 24 hours, seven days a week inside your head. You don’t shut off. You over analyze and question everything about anything.

My mind works at a million miles per hour. It makes me anxious and fidgety. Some days, I can’t concentrate and sleeping eight hours a night is now a thing of the past. I constantly have to be doing something, just to keep my mind distracted. I can’t sit down and watch television for hours on end because I can’t concentrate for that long.

This is why I go to the gym twice a day, work eight hours a day, come home and study. I’m sure running my body down to distract my mind will catch up with me one day. Until then, it’s the only way I know how to get on with each day.

Some days, I wish for anything to be “normal,” not to think the way I do, to be able to sleep, to be able to be in social situations without over analyzing everything. Dating? Well, that’s just a no go for me.

Let’s get one thing clear. Having depression doesn’t mean you hate everything about your life. It’s not that dramatic. I have a great life. I’m grateful for a lot of things, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. I have depression. It’s not who I am. It’s just a part of me.

I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It makes us stronger. I’m learning to live with it. With the help of the gym and music, I have time where I’m not in my head.

For anyone reading this who feels the same, you aren’t alone. I know you may feel like no one understands, but there will always be people who do. Find enjoyment in something you love doing and stick with it.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: December 30, 2016
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