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What My Depression and Mania Look Like

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My depression isn’t cute. Depression is five days without a shower or a change of clothes. Depression is eating anything in sight and ordering even more. Depression is skipping classes, ignoring emails, not answering concerned texts and phone calls. It’s feeling alone when you’re the one who isolated yourself. Depression is a raft in the middle of a river with a greasy, sore and exhausted me clinging to it. Depression is not looking in the mirror because I don’t even feel like I exist. Depression is forgetting my birthday or my family’s names or good memories. Depression is leaving my three bedroom apartment when I dropped out of school. It’s finally getting out of bed, because somebody threatened to come check on me, only to step onto a scale I keep close by. Depression is heavy — heavier if you could measure the pounds of fear, agony and regrets I carry around. It’s agreeing to karaoke but I didn’t get to pick the song and they don’t put up the words. It’s embarrassing and feels hopeless. Depression is not catching a boy’s eye in class or on the street or in a bar. Depression is noticing that you don’t get noticed anymore. It’s not cute. It’s disgusting, it’s invisible, it’s hell.

Sometimes, it’s “crazy.” I’m “crazy.” It drowns my bank account in less than 15 hours. I scream and cry and imagine things and hate people I normally love and love people I normally hate. It’s a run-on sentence. Mania is breaking up with a high school boyfriend for no reason, other than he didn’t call me pretty when I was 17 and still wanting to fix it five years later. Mania is signing up for a new school and new classes I’m not capable of completing. It’s taking part in every committee and not ever finishing my jobs. Mania is surfing adoption websites to take care of children when I can’t even take care of myself. Mania is buying a plane ticket in the middle of the night to visit somebody you haven’t spoken to in years. Mania is deciding to move to LA to become a famous comedian. Mania is pacing the apartment at 3:45 a.m., scaring my roommate as she leaves for work. It’s crash diets and fad diets and sick amounts of exercise to lose the weight depression gained. Mania isn’t fun. It’s not a roller coaster. It’s a Tilt-a-Whirl I can’t get off, even after telling the operator I’m going to throw up.

On my 14th birthday, I wrote in my journal that it would be my last birthday. I wasn’t trying to be morbid; I just couldn’t picture myself growing up. It’s not that I didn’t want to drive or vote or get married, it’s that I didn’t see it happening for me. That thought eventually worked itself deeper into my subconscious. What’s the point in good grades if I won’t be here for college? Why should I save money if I want ice cream and shoes now if I don’t have to save for my first house? Why fall in love with him, if I’m leaving soon? Depression took a lot from me. It took away the future. I couldn’t let it keep it.

So, I’m here. I can see a future. I can almost imagine getting a real job. For the first time, I see myself growing up. I finally can understand a five-year plan. It took a lot of going through the motions, but I’m here. I learned to drive. I graduated high school. (Still working on the good grades thing). I’ve fallen and failed in love a couple times. That may be the last thing I’m focused on, though. The last date I went on, I told him “I didn’t use to be fat, it’s just the antidepressants,”  so I might need to up my game. Get a little bit healthier before I engage with boys. I read a quote the other day that “you have to want to spend the rest of your life with yourself, first” and I loved that. It’s my focus now. Sometimes, I think about going to my friends’ weddings. Those are the really good days because I think about friends and I realize I have them. I realize that I’m not alone. Plus, I have my dog — he’ll live 15 years and I’ve thought about being sad when he dies. That means I’ll be here 15 years. It’s weird sometimes, to think about being here longer than the next few months. In the middle of the night when I’m all alone thinking about how I haven’t been touched by another human in days, I just tell myself that I’ll high five a co-worker at work. Optimism is weird, but I like it.

I’m still dizzy, I’m still stumbling, I’m still too tired to go on sometimes but I’m here. And sometimes, I’m even OK.

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.

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Thinkstock photo via Tangkwa_Nikon

Originally published: May 17, 2017
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