Angela Carter

@angela-carter | contributor
Angela M. Carter is an author, poet, novelist, motivational speaker, spoken word performer, visual artist and mental illness awareness advocate and activist. Memory Chose a Woman’s Body (unbound CONTENT, 2014) is a poetry memoir, which spotlights the effects of the silences endured after abuse, neglect and depression. www.angelacarterpoetry.com
Community Voices

Hope For When It Feels Like the World Left You Behind

When you have #Depression and #Anxiety, it feels as though there is a window separating you from every other person and adventure in the world. It appears that there’s a 24/7 theatre production in motion which involves everyone else in a lead role, yet, you have yet to receive an invitation to be something as small as a stage prop. From depression’s window, and social media scrolling, everyone in this production is ecstatic, is loved by others, has close friends and is heading somewhere magical. Viewing a constant slideshow of beaming faces, congrats posts and whopping announcements is enough to make anyone feel inadequate and exhausted; however, for those of us with depression and anxiety, these occurrences make us feel that the world left us behind.

The world can be harsh and confusing. It feels safer to keep it at a far distance. At any given moment, all you have to do is turn on the news to see how frightening it can be. Explosions. Mass shootings. Border violence. Sexual assault cases. Overdoses. Wrongful deaths. And on, and on, and on…But, there’s a lot of good in the world, too. There are people helping to make the world a better place. I believe that Mr. Rogers said it best:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Sure, is always there to tell me I’m not good enough, no one likes me, and that I’ll fail miserably at anything I choose to try, but I’ve decided that if I can live through a life-threatening depressive episode, I’ll survive all of my other fears. I’ve already endured my worst-known amount of pain. I’m ready to truly live, even if it also opens a door to hundreds of emotions (both, positive and negative)  which once convinced me to ignore. Two years ago, I decided to I was ready to stop viewing the world through ’s window.

The only way to become a part of the real world is to live in it. The real world, that is. You won’t find any others’ true selves (or your own) behind the screen of a phone or from watching the world from anxiety and ’s window. To live below the surface, and outside of our perceptions, involves courage and vulnerability. Courage is not for the faint-hearted, but if you live with , you’ve already proven to be one of the most resilient pieces of our world, no matter how fractured the world may be at the time. You are proof that perseverance exists and can overcome most anything. To thrive in the real world, as a person with a #MentalHealth issue, may mean becoming someone who shows up to a music show on your own, asking for a table for one in a local cafe, or trying out that new art class without knowing who else will be there. Eventually, these steps of independence lead to self-respect, self-exploration and you determining who you invite to share your chosen life.

There are many days I experience setbacks. On those days, I forgive myself for the last and do what I can to step away from the window again. It takes a long time to become you, especially when you have . For those days, I read this:

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ― Margery Williams Bianco,

Depression wants you all for itself and it wants you to stay behind that window. Try to turn away from it today. Step outside the door into your own created world. Build one square foot at a time. Be a helper in the world, in any way you can. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Create your role in the world. Become.

Angela Carter

When Depression Silently Stalks Your Mind

Since I was a child, it has stalked me. Even with practice, I’ve never been fully prepared for its visits. I learned, quickly, that replacing my locks, barricading furniture in front of the door or luring it into homemade booby traps wouldn’t keep it away. Somehow, it found a way to hide inside of me. My only saving grace was realizing life was less complicated when it slept. However, I never learned its patterns. I feared the moment it would wake up, dedicated, with its mission solely being me. It tormented me for days, weeks or months at a time. It’s dedicated. It’s ruthless. It’s victims should not underestimate its physical and mind-controlling abilities. During my teenage years, instead of making friends and building self-esteem, I was forced to fight my own mind. There’s no weapon available for that, nor are there instructions on how to win this battle. When requested to identify my assailant to family and friends, I had no idea of where to point other than to my own self. Eventually, no one looks any further than depression’s victims. It morphs into us, seamlessly. You might be half-dying at the dinner table, while everyone eats mashed potatoes. No one is aware inside you are being held captive. It laughs, knowing it’s deceived everyone who loves you. Fighting depression appears completely different on the outside than it does on the inside. On the inside, I’m the most powerful slayer of all time, skillful, patient and dedicated. On the outside, I’m exhausted, unable to smile and all physical energy is gone. In fact, it’s a miracle to have survived at all. Imagine a soldier leaving a war, and the only comments he/she hears afterward are: “Smile! What have you got to be so tired about? Snap out of it! Don’t you think it’s time to grow out of this phase?” After living with depression for most of my life, I understand much more about depression than I did back then. First, the bad news: 1. There isn’t always an easy cure. 2. Depression is only half the fight. Constant side effects of medication have been a sideline battle. 3. Stigma is extremely prevalent. Now, here’s the good news: Compassion and empathy are contagious. One kind act can change the world. Although, there is no easy cure for depression, compassion spreads like wildfire. As humans, we have a responsibility to love, care and be there for others. I believe this to be the cure for the most difficult part of my battle against depression, stigma. Whenever you are out, look at every passing face as though it’s on a “Help Needed” sign. Do this until the world becomes a place where each victim, stalked by depression, no longer has to face stigma. Instead, they will, openly, and without shame, display a “Help Needed” sign.