The Mighty Logo

What to Know If You Believe You’re ‘Too Sick’ to Recover From Mental Illness

I want to leave a gift. A tiny gift for the people who don’t think they deserve one. A little light in the darkness.

The one thing I needed most when I lived with depression was a story of victory, a story of survivors. There is information to be found in the media about other people living with depression. However, knowing I was not alone in my struggle was not the point. In fact, learning how widespread this illness is didn’t give me much hope for a cure.

What I missed in the midst of darkness was hope. To many people, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Hopelessness is one of the main features of depression. All your positive thoughts and expectations are drained away like water in a sink. What’s left is a murky pile of lies that depression tells you: it will never be OK, I will always continue to feel like this, no one cares about me, and on it goes. This is why we see depression as black and not as gray: it is absolute in every sense of the word.

So, what about hope? For me, my despair was characterized by the belief I would never be “alright.” I had this detailed, worst-case scenario completely planned out and I was sure my life was gonna evolve in this way and there was no other way except death. This belief was strengthened by the fact I lacked any role models to compare myself with. I knew people recovered from depression, but to my mind, these people were not like me. I could not be fixed; there had been too much going on for too long. I had never read about people like me getting their life back on track. So, I reasoned, people like me could not be cured.

The first time I saw a therapist, I was 14. I was depressed and anxious and some bad stuff had happened. Over the course of 10 years, I have been through what they call double depression, social anxiety, insomnia, addiction, chronic pain, gender dysphoria and more. I have tried countless medications. I have been in therapy for about eight years. And guess what? I am “fixed.” I have many good days and neutral days, I recovered from addiction, I am way more confident and less anxious than I used to be, my chronic pain has decreased to a level I can live with and I am definitely no longer depressed. I am successful in my academic pursuits and I enjoy what I am doing. Of course, I still have bad mood swings sometimes and I still feel anxious, but the point is: I will be alright. The future will inevitably bring additional hurdles, but I am confident I can deal with those. I am hopeful.

My gift to you is to give you a positive story of a person who overcame not one but a whole pile of disorders over many years. My story may deviate from yours, but people like you and I are out there and they are surviving. You can recover from a lot of bad stuff if you mentally and physically put up a fight. Don’t give up hope; yours too will be a tale of victory.

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home