I remember the first time you paid me a visit. Like a dark cloud you swept into my life and washed away any happiness I had known. You made me feel like I was worthless and questioned who I was as a person. You told me I would never be good enough, that all those people who said I could never amount to anything were right. But here I am still standing, struggling under the weight of your darkness.
There are days, weeks even where all I seem to do is cry. I shut myself off from all the people I care about because I don’t know what to say or how to act. I don’t want people to see me as you make me feel: weak, broken and unable to control my emotions. People used to call me a drama queen and even when I told them about my dark visitor who watched my every move they would remain unconvinced. I was sixteen angry at the world and even angry at the people I cared about. I pushed people away, I was so tired of having to try and explain myself to people that didn’t seem to care. I spent precious time and energy trying to placate people who were not worth my time and got caught in toxic friendships that threatened to bury me in its pit of deep shit.
Over time I realized that my ‘little visitor’ was depression and it was an unwanted visitor at that. I was tired of having to pretend to be happy all the time when all I wanted to do was cry and shout. I took my mental health issues out on other people, caught up in this cycle of anger and frustration. I didn’t have anger issues per say but when my depression was at its worst I felt irritated at every little thing and found that someone who had the slightest bad thing to say would be forever an enemy in my eyes. I was not always so willing to give people second chances and would hold grudges that would ultimately make myself feel worse. When you spend so much time being angry at others it has an impact on the way that you see yourself and to an extent I am still the same today.
I still have days where all I want to do is cry, where the slightest thing that goes wrong makes me have a full blown panic attack. I shake and I can’t breathe, sometimes unable to continue with my work. There are days where no matter how hard I try I can’t focus and beat myself up for my lack of progression. But listen here depression, despite how you make me feel I am still a warrior. Aged 23, I have overcome child abuse, bullying and learned how to deal with my mental health issues. Despite what you may think or how I may act when I am under the influence I am still the same person :determined, passionate and willing to live life to the full. When I was growing up I was taught to ignore my mental health, I was forced to pretend I was something I was not and above all conditioned into becoming a pathological liar. I was lying to myself on a daily basis because I too believed I was ‘ok’… Until it all went wrong.
I would hurt myself on a daily basis, looking for that sweet release that I craved. I dreamed of a world where I was pain free, where the people that had hurt me where no longer around to watch me cry. When I am at my most depressed, I struggle with gratitude, with remembering all the good things that have happened. Instead like any toxic cycle I often fixate on the bad, forgetting all the good that has happened to me. But it is readers like you who bring me back to life, who remind me of that in spite of the bad there is still good. I might have been through some dark shit but I have had some amazing opportunities too. I was taken into care and offered shelter away from childhood abuse, university showed me how to embrace my mental health issues and blogging showed me how to be a better person. Yes I have been through a lot but it’s like my aunty always said, there will be people in the world who have it worse and those who are better off. As long as you appreciate what you do have that is all that matters.
And my aunty is right. Despite having little money to my name I had the bravery to quit a job I hated in return for my true passion: blogging. I won a holiday to Tuscany and run my own business. I have friends and family who love me and everyday brings a new opportunity. I am always anxious- true- but my anxiety and depression does not make me weak. Far from it, deep down inside all of us are insecurities, but despite how it makes us feel we are stronger because of it. I know you doubt me; after all one minute you feel like you are on top of the world and the next moment depression hits like a tonne of bricks and it’s like the world has ended.
But listen here, I was always taught that having mental health issues meant that you were weak and I didn’t want to be seen as the ‘crazy one’ in the family, like my uncle had always been called. I didn’t want to feel ashamed for not being normal or not having the self-restraint to control my emotions. Most of all I didn’t want to be seen as ‘different’, after all I had enough of that as the single ‘fostered kid’ during secondary school. I could imagine the taunts and screams ‘now you’re crazy and unloved’ how does that make you feel? In truth it made me feel like crap, but coming terms with my depression helped me gain closure and above all showed me that despite how the media portrays depression in the media, we are not ‘sick freaks’, instead I am TELLING YOU THAT YOU ARE A WARRIOR. Never forget that.
So here’s what you need to do; Even when you can hear it knocking on your door, clamoring to fill your mind with doubt and disgust , never let it make you feel small again. Allow yourself to feel deeply and display your emotions openly but never let it hide who you are. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not to appease someone else’s set of guidelines and rules and never feel the need to not acknowledge that you are upset. Those around you might be startled by the truth but they need to hear it. They need to hear what you are going through but at the same time don’t push them away when they try to help. I know that you would rather deal with it on your own , because you are perfectly comfortable with being alone, but don’t let depression hide you in the corner and cloak you under its darkness. Instead like a phoenix rising from the ashes be bold and true, take your cue centre stage and breathe…
Dear Depression: Did You Call Me?
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