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When Speaking Up About Depression Is What Saves You

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The hyperventilated breaths, the burn in my lungs, when I finally let out a long exhale to slow my breathing. I settle. My mind settles. 

I’ve been here before, far too many times. My mind has taken off, wandering into the dark places. Opening subjects out of my mental file cabinets I don’t like to discus. The room is filled with light, but me, I only see darkness. I instilled all of these bad behaviors within myself as coping mechanisms. By no real choice of my own.

But each time I speak of the mental notes I’m taking, I’m shut down. I’m told “you are wrong;” “I don’t have time for this;” ” You brought it on yourself;” “Just get over it;” or the worst, silence.

What if they had listened? What if they had used that moment to really listen to the real me? Did they know how much courage it took to come to them? Did they know how long I’ve been holding this in? That I had reached a dangerous breaking point?

Most days I push through, I speak loudly so not to go unnoticed — it also helps to quiet the demons living inside. Maybe if I act like I’m coping well they wont see how much of a mess I am. After all, I don’t want to bother them. It never ends well for me. How lonely I feel inside even in a room full of people. Honestly though, I seek attention. Hoping someone will see through the masks I bare. And for once they won’t stumble to words before distancing themselves because it’s too much or they don’t want to be bothered.

It’s always been like this, though. When I needed someone to be my voice for my tiny self, they left me behind. Minimized, swept the room clean and under the rug it went.

I wonder what my life would be like if someone had spoke up, took my hand and said “I got you, let me carry your burden.” I didn’t find that until I found my husband. But even now, I am not always fully open because he bares such a heavy weight already.

Often times I am crying, no screaming out for help when it gets so bad, but I’ve mastered the art of playing the parade of masks on my day to day that it all just seems normal, or “oh, she’s just emotional today, she’s fine.”

I’ve been there too many times. And before I reacted with what I found was the only “cure” for the big emotions — the pain. More pain.

I refrain from reverting back because it’s not an acceptable form of coping. So I taught myself to speak up, speak out. It’s not always welcomed, though. Who wants to hear they may have hurt your feelings, or hear the sad details of your childhood sexual abuse, the days you spent in the hospital bedside of your tiny child waiting for them to pass because doctors said they have done all they can do. Most don’t want to know these details. I forget that it’s too much, too detailed for them, and it’s hard for them to listen to at times.

But it’s become my saving grace. Speaking up when I get to that drowning point of my depression. When I’ve been fighting for my breaths for months and my body’s finally too exhausted to fight it any more and I start to be pulled under. I try to catch my second wind just before the water reaches the tip of my nose.

I pull myself out, breathe a deep breath or 20. Indulge in a hot bath with music, throw myself into housework, training at the gym. Something, anything to pull myself out and just survive.

It scares me though. I won’t lie. What if I don’t hit that second wind one day when it gets so bad.

I’ll drown.

I can’t think too hard on it, though. I only have now, the fight I have right now. My kids need and deserve it, along with my husband. So I wake up. Fight another day. Smile and push through. It’s all I can do. Just breathe. Besides, I hate the deep water and I don’t want to surrender. I am too damn stubborn.

“And I know that I can survive. I’d walk through fire to save my life. And I want it, I want my life so bad. I’m doing everything I can.” — Sia, “Elastic Heart

Follow this journey on 4 1/2 Hearts.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was one moment you received help in an unexpected or unorthodox way related to disability, disease or mental illness? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 9, 2016
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