Amy D.

@amyd121 | contributor
20-something with depression and anxiety, trying to be honest about what that means.
Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

We Need to Take Childhood Suicidal Thoughts Seriously

I have my own mental health struggles, and sometimes I need to talk about them. Today, I’m going to put those aside for a second, because there are someone else’s struggles I want to try and share with you. She’s an 8-year-old girl, and for precisely the reason it isn’t her real name, we’re going to call her Molly. Molly is a child who goes to a mainstream school. She doesn’t seem — at first glance, at least — like there is anything particularly “abnormal” about her. It’s not until you get into a deep conversation with Molly that you realize anything is wrong. It’s little things, at first; when she’s studying ancient history in school, it makes sense that she’s talking a lot about those societies’ burial practices as that’s something she’s learned about recently. The longer the conversation goes on, the more you realize that death for Molly isn’t just linked to burial practices from ancient history lessons; it’s something she talks about again, and again, and again. Children have their obsessions; that’s normal. One child will know everything there is to know about dinosaurs, and another everything about unicorns, or monster trucks. Death, though… death isn’t a usual obsession for a child. Adults who watch a lot of crime shows or murder mysteries is one thing, but an actual fascination with death, in an 8-year-old, is a sign of something deeper. And then the deeper appeared seemingly out of nowhere, but of course, with hindsight, I should have seen it coming. After Molly did something she shouldn’t, and I suggested “you could not do that,” her response chilled me to the bone. “I could kill myself.” Eight years old. She said, “I could kill myself,” and she is 8 years old. Over the years, I have seen people in very dark places, and I have heard that sentence said to me before. Never from someone so young. Never has it hurt so much to hear. I think in ways, it made me angry. The worst part is, I have no idea how to help her. Despite her walking a path I’ve gone down, I don’t know what to say. How can I tell an 8-year-old that it’s normal to wish everything would stop, but that it gets better? How can I tell a child that things will change, but change is slow and she has to wait to see it? How can I tell someone so small that a world so big is not something to be afraid of? The words turn to jelly in my mouth, and I looked at her, and nothing felt right. There are many children like Molly in this world. It breaks my heart to think of how many children are just as scared as she is. As the adults in their lives, for maybe a big part of that or a small part: how do we help them? What do we say? How do we make everything OK? And how can we ensure the children of today — the children like Molly — are still around to be the children of tomorrow, instead of being the children six feet underground? I’m not a mental health professional, but I don’t think I need to be to help Molly feel better. I can still do my part, and I still want to. We all can. We can all help Molly, and she’ll always need us to.

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

When You Beat Yourself Up for 'Being Lazy' as Someone With Depression

One of the biggest myths about depression that the mental health community has been trying to bust is that people with depression are “just lazy.” Can’t hold down a job because of your depression? Lazy. House always a mess because your depression means you can’t face cleaning it? Lazy. Spend all day in bed because depression tells you that leaving it is impossible? Lazy. It’s a hard stigma to beat. Things like not cleaning and staying in bed are typical things that you’d imagine a “lazy” person to do. Depression, however, is so much more than “just being lazy.” I have always been a lazy person. It’s fine, I don’t mind admitting that. I’ve also always had depression. It wasn’t too bad until I was 14-years-old, and I didn’t have an official diagnosis until I was 19, but looking back, I think it’s always been there. It is hard to tell though. What am I doing (or in most cases, not doing) because of my depression and what is just because I’m lazy? Not getting out of bed because I can’t stop crying, that’s going to be the depression. Not getting out of bed because it’s really comfy and I just want five more minutes, that could be laziness. Telling myself it’s because I need five more minutes and it’s comfy, but still being in bed half an hour later and practically screaming at myself to move but feeling like I’m physically unable to – now which is that? Depression? Or the laziness? Or both? The stigma that people with depression are “just lazy” is so pervasive that it can be hard not to think that I’m always “just lazy” myself; and that I’m also useless, hopeless and good for nothing. This is when the “negative view of self” that accompanies my depression really kicks in. It tries to tell me that I’m not really depressed at all, I’m just lazy, I’m just pathetic, I’m just not trying hard enough. There are moments though, when it feels like all the trying in the world isn’t going to be enough to pull me through. Friends and family have always made jokes about my laziness. Growing up, I would always leave my schoolwork to the last minute and sometimes, I’d just look at the ever-growing list of things I needed to do and just take a nap instead. I’ve been consistently seen as someone who’ll go out of my way to avoid doing things, to just sleep instead or just “laze around doing nothing.” I’ve never understood the people with a need to be busy; if I get too busy (and my too busy is a lot less busy than most people) I get overwhelmed and I need a nap. Is that just because I’m lazy and I don’t want to do all the useful things? Or is it maybe something more? When you’re struggling with depression, it can be easy to beat yourself up about being lazy. Easy to tell yourself that your lack of energy and motivation is just something you have to push through. Or that you must have something wrong with yourself because you’re able to do some things, just not the useful or important ones. But it’s time to stop beating myself up about being so lazy. Yes, I need to work on it. Yes, I could do more. But screaming at myself for staying in bed an extra hour instead of doing the dishes? That’s not going to help anything. It’s time I learned that. It’s time we all learned that. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

When You're Scared to Say You're Mentally Ill

“Hi, my name is Amy, and I’m mentally ill.” No, that doesn’t sound right. “Hi, I’m Amy and I have a mental illness.” Hmm. “Hi, I’m Amy and I’m on meds for my brain.” Why is that sentence so much less scary to me? Why is it so scary for me to admit I have a mental illness? I’ve had depression potentially my whole life. I got the diagnosis and started on medication almost three years ago. In that time, I’ve been on three different doses of two different varieties of antidepressants, and I’ve been sent to several different kinds of counseling, all of which made me feel worse. Admitting this to the internet doesn’t feel scary. Admitting this to my family, however, is something that feels impossible to me. Impossible to the point where thinking about it makes me want to either vomit or cry. Fun. There is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, and I am so grateful to be living in a time where that stigma is starting to fade. Every person I’ve told about my struggles has been wonderfully supportive, and I don’t have the words to say just how encouraging that’s been. When I can be open about my struggles, I also find that encouraging, and I’ve had friends tell me my honesty has been really helpful to them. Why, then, does each new “honesty moment” fill me with such fear? My mom’s brother died when he was 17. It was suicide. I remember when I was 16, I was going through a crisis, and I admitted to my closest friend that I didn’t think I would make it to 17. I did, and I suppose I’m grateful, but that’s not the point I’m making now. I’ve seen my whole life how suicide can impact a family, how my mom and her family have responded to her brother’s death. It was about 40 years ago now, and I still feel ice in the room when his name is mentioned. It’s like this strange taboo. I remember my mom referring to her brother’s actions as “selfish” when I was much younger, and that one word — “selfish” — has haunted me ever since. It tells me that for me, suicide is not an option, and thinking about it as much as I do makes me a “selfish” person, too. Part of my reluctance to come out to my family as mentally ill, as struggling with depression and anxiety in the way I do, almost seems silly. There are “Time to Talk” stickers in my parents’ kitchen. And yet they are the last people in the world I’d want to talk to about it. I’d rather continue to let them think I’m “lazy” (their words), useless and good-for-nothing (my words) than admit the truth. I know just how little sense it makes. Sometimes, I like to think of myself as a mental health advocate. In front of the right people, I’m perfectly OK with sharing some of the ugly sides of my mental health stories and educating people. I’m perfectly OK telling people I’m on medication, and most of the time, all I need to do is take a deep breath before I tell them what it’s for. I’m not ashamed of my struggle; it’s just a small part of who I am. There is so much more to me. I’m not ready to fully come out yet. I’m not ready for the whole world to know I’ve got a mental health problem. One day I might be, though. I’ve seen the power of honesty and sticking together, and how supportive people can be at helping each other through the dark times. “Hi, my name is Amy, and I’m mentally ill.” That’s a scary sentence now, but it’s one I’m confident I’ll one day be able to say. Even to my parents. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

Inside the Brain of Someone With Depression and Anxiety

Everyone has good qualities. Qualities others see and envy. Qualities they wish were their own. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, and she said something that haunted me. She said, “I wish I had your brain.” I know what she meant. I’ve got academic cleverness, book smarts and that’s what she’s envious of. I didn’t really have to try in school. I was a natural at learning. That’s the quality she wished for herself. What she said, however, really stung me  because I am at war with my brain every single day. No, you don’t want my brain. Do you really want a brain that thinks panicking is the appropriate reaction to even the tiniest of problems? Do you want a brain that perceives every strangers laugh or smile as being directed at you in malice? Do you want a brain that tells you all day, every day, how you aren’t good enough? Do you want a brain that requires constant medication just so you can masquerade as mentally stable? Do you want a brain that tells you to jump every time you cross a bridge? Do you want a brain that uses its powers of logic to argue the world would be better off without you? Do you want a brain that is convinced all your friends and loved ones are staying around out of pity or duty rather than because they actually love you? (This is regardless of how many times those loved ones tell you otherwise.) Do you want a brain that thinks so strongly that the world is bad? Do you want a brain that makes you struggle to see the good even when it stares you in the face? Do you want a brain that tells you all your good qualities are meaningless or that you are only pretending to have any at all? Do you want a brain that tells you all the sadness you feel is just ungrateful, that other people have it worse and that you deserve to feel awful as a result? Do you want a brain that says you deserve to struggle? Do you want a brain that will never let you forget any mistake you ever made? Do you want a brain that struggles to sleep at night but is exhausted throughout the day? Do you want a brain that tells you every relationship mishap you’ve ever had is exclusively your fault, that you don’t deserve love and that you’ll never find it? Do you want a brain that struggles with depression and anxiety? I have good qualities. I know that somehow, even if my brain makes it difficult to believe. Maybe I even have qualities worth being jealous of. You can be jealous of my imagination, my creativity and even my great bum, but don’t ever tell me you’re jealous of a brain. Because I’d swap it in a heartbeat for one that works. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

Learning It's OK to Cry in My Journey With Depression

One thing I’ve learned in my journey as a human being is we all have our own versions of “normal.” My normal and your normal, for example, might be completely different. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s one thing about the human condition I myself find really fascinating, and it’s one of the few reasons why I don’t mind being a human being (as opposed to a baby animal, who seem to live much happier lives and are also much cuter). Today, what I want to talk about is crying. For some people, crying is normal. Take my friend Jenny. (She’s not actually named Jenny. I’ve changed the names of all the people I’m going to mention.) She’s someone who cries at every sad episode of a TV show, every time she feels slightly overwhelmed and sometimes she just goes to have a cry to let off steam. This is her normal and that’s fine. My normal, however, until recently, was completely different. I don’t cry. I’ve had depression “officially” since I was 18. Since I was probably 14, I first started thinking about suicide all the time and potentially my whole life I’ll have lower, less severe symptoms (which I thought just described my personality). Sadness is a feeling I’m very accustomed to. One might think I spent a lot of my time crying, particularly in my teenage years. However, while the feeling of, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,” or that I was moments away from bursting into tears was common to me, actually crying was not. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve cried since I was 10 years old. All of those were big moments, my grandfather’s funeral, the first time I told someone I wanted to kill myself and the first time I was dumped. That’s three times from the ages of 10 to 21. Enter my new medication. One of the side effects for me was crying. Since I started my new meds about three months ago, I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve burst into tears. Some of them were “reasonable,” like when I broke up with Bob, but others weren’t. Others were far from what I thought was a good reason to cry. All of them, including the breakup, came saddled with an additional feeling of, “Why the f*ck am I crying?” Crying, to me, had always been a sign of weakness. Giving in to the “about to cry” feeling and actually crying made me feel like I had lost some sort of battle with myself. That I was weak, a failure. Logically, I might know crying is totally natural, but it never quite sunk in. Even worse than the actual crying was the fear somebody might see me cry. It was one thing for me to feel completely weak and helpless, but it was another for me to share this weakness with anyone else, let alone a total stranger. No one thinks the stranger crying on the bus is weak and pathetic for crying. Yet, I couldn’t shake the idea it would be perceived weak and pathetic if it was me. I’m not sure where my idea that crying was unacceptable came from. If I had bought into the “real men don’t cry” myth, then that would make sense, but I’m not a man. I’ve never been a man. The only friends of mine who could relate when I shared my “I don’t cry” story where all men. Why did the fact I was suddenly crying matter to me? Why did I think it made me weak? I’m a woman, and women are “allowed” to cry, aren’t they? I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, who we’re going to call Tony. Tony mentioned, like me, he’s not someone who really cries. He felt really awkward at his grandma’s funeral, when everyone else was crying, and he just wasn’t. Crying was the appropriate emotional response. Yet, his brain said, “No, Tony, no crying for you.” I couldn’t relate, every moment I cried or almost cried my brain had said mean things instead. There was never a moment when I felt like I should be crying. I always felt like I shouldn’t. Every time I had come close to crying before the new medication, my brain had somehow managed to say, “No, that’s not OK. we don’t do that here.” It’s a process for me to learn crying is my new normal. Crying is not pathetic. If you’re someone who cries, then it doesn’t make you less than someone who doesn’t cry. It’s a process to learn just because I’m crying I’m not broken or I haven’t lost control of my life. Crying is OK. It is OK for me to cry. We all express emotions in different ways. For me, that now includes crying. It doesn’t mean I’m not myself anymore just because I’ve changed. This is just one of the many changes my new medication brought me, and it’s one I have to learn to accept. I’m growing and I’m changing every single day. I’m also crying now. It’s my new normal. There is nothing wrong with that. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 .

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

Little Victories When You're Suicidal

Editor’s note: This piece contains language that may be triggering to someone dealing with suicidal thoughts. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . I’m still ill. My new medication is doing its job though, and I’ve been feeling better than I have in a long time. Often, when everything seems really disgustingly bleak, it’s hard to see when a light is actually shining through and things are getting better. So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the little things I can celebrate as I try and power through my own depression. Whenever we’re ill, whatever form that illness takes, getting better is always going to be a process (rather than the “bam! you’re cured” type of image Hollywood is so fond of). The little victories we all have are all going to be different, but if I can do something today that was impossible yesterday, that’s an achievement already. So, my top things to celebrate: I don’t want to throw myself off every time I cross a bridge. When someone says “belt,” I think first of its use to hold up trousers. Similarly, I see the purpose of my razor as shaving my legs, not anything else. Showering at least twice a week has become a minimum instead of an ideal. …so has cleaning my teeth at least once a day My default internal monologue has become less “I wish I was dead” and more “I wish I was a baby animal” (usually a kitten, but I have a weakness for all sorts of baby animals). I’m not as obsessed with the numbers on my food packets. I care more about how something tastes than how many calories it has. I’m remembering to actually take my pills every day (a sign I’m getting better as well as something that makes me better, so the opposite of a vicious cycle. A wonderful cycle?). My creativity is coming back. Getting out of bed doesn’t take as long (an average of one to two hours after wake up rather than two to three. Again taking an hour to get out of bed may be a sign of unhealthiness for someone else, but it’s important to remember healthy looks different in different people. I only let the phone go straight to voicemail on unknown number calls/calls from people I don’t know instead of curling in a tiny ball and waiting for the phone to stop ringing and go away. And I could go on. There are so many little things that can crop in to make any day better and so many little victories we can celebrate after those tiny precious moments where illness (of whatever kind) does not get the better of us. I can be better, you can be better, we can all be better. Celebrating the little victories and all the small steps on the way to recovery might just be how we get there. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 .

Amy D.
Amy D. @amyd121
contributor

Ending a Relationship While Living With Depression

Being dumped sucks for anybody. You can be the most mentally healthy person in the whole world, and it will still hurt. It will still be painful. When you are already suffering from a mental illness, however, that just makes everything a whole lot worse. I don’t want to belittle the pain depression causes without an emotional upheaval, and neither do I want to belittle the pain being dumped can cause to anyone, with a mental illness or without. It’s just when these things separately can be like a metaphorical punch in the gut, imagine what happens when you get both at once. I didn’t see it coming. I was beginning to sense my relationship with, oh, let’s call him Bob since that’s not his real name; I was beginning to sense my relationship with Bob had an expiration date, but not that it would be so soon. He took me on a date the night he dumped me, we saw a movie and went for dinner, and the day before he’d told me he had some “bad news” to share with me. Bad news that turned out to be he wasn’t attracted to me anymore, and he wasn’t willing to try. So just like that, the rug was ripped out from under my feet, and Me and Bob were no more. He knew about my illness. He knew even before we started dating. It was something we talked about in a lot of depth, even on our very first date. He held my hand as I told him all about the struggles I was having with my antidepressants, and was with me every step of the way as I started the process of moving on to new ones that hopefully wouldn’t have such unhelpful side effects. In the presence of friends who knew about my illness (because I’ll admit now, it’s something I tend to keep quiet), he would pretend we were like an old married couple in the waiting room of a doctors office, saying “we’ll do anything” and other such almost clichéd phrases you pop out when you want to make everything better. Because my illness is something I keep quiet, Bob was one of few people who actually knew about it. He cared, he asked me questions and when he was around he was like a little ray of sunshine in the sea of grey that was my life. I often describe my illness, my depression, as like a fog. Some days it’s thicker than others, and sometimes so thick I can’t even see my own feet out in front of me. But even of those days, I could see a little glimmer of light, a something through the haze — and that was the love Bob had for me. Or at least, the love I thought he had. Being dumped hurts. It really really hurts. That fog can close in even colder and darker and more all-consuming after something like that happens, but here’s the thing: That little glimmer in the fog, the one I saw through Bob, that’s always going to be there somehow. I may not feel like it right now, but I know I have true friends around me, and that I’m loved. Bob’s love not being all I thought it was doesn’t detract from the fact that love is out there, and that love is still a real thing that’s out there. Is that cheesy? Yes. Yes it is. But it’s keeping me alive right now. I was suicidal before Bob. I was suicidal while dating Bob. And I’m suicidal now. It’s not something for me ever really changes or goes away. Being alive was easier when I had Bob, but it was still hard. So, so hard. Even in the midst of a really great moment the whole thought of ‘”yeah but it would be better if I was dead right now” never left me. It just emphasizes that now more than ever, suicide itself is actually not an option. Because as much as I’m hurting right now and as much as I really want to just stop the whole existing thing I’m right now, if I go right now –everyone will blame Bob. They’ll say it was the heartbreak that killed me, that he is to blame for pushing me over the edge. As much as it hurts and as much as he hurt me, it’s not his fault. The heartbreak is so painful. But the depression is worse. If I ever sink low enough, and I ever do kill myself, depression will be what killed me. Not heartbreak, not a love gone wrong, not being dumped or a failed relationship. It’ll be the depression. Yes, hard times like this make it worse, but at the end of the day, depression is an illness. When illnesses get bad, they can kill people. I just have to hold up my head, and try to see the sunlight through the fog. However bad it gets, I need to hold on to my hope that the sun still shines beyond my fog, even on the days that are so painfully dark I can’t see it at all. I’m loved, I’m important and I am worth fighting for. Whether or not I have a partner, that doesn’t change, and at the end of the day if this horrible experience has taught me anything — it’s that I don’t need someone to stand beside me holding my hand. It’s nice, and it’s comfortable, but it’s not essential. I have to be enough on my own. With effort, and patience, and taking care of myself as best I can — some day I will be. If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 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? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.