I’m a master at experiencing debilitating depression; to stand in front of a mirror aghast at the anxiety pouring out; to spend hours on the shower floor filled with sorrow and crying for no reason; trauma so severe that my world is turned upside down and everything is stolen from me; and the ultimate experience, to believe life isn’t worth living and ending my life is the best option I have.
You may be thinking, “So what? I have experienced everything this woman described – except my grammar skills are better.” Whether my first paragraph resonates with you or not, I can promise you four things: 1) no one is perfect, 2) there is good in the world still, 3) everything happens for a reason, and 4) there is hope even when you consider yourself broken in the pits of despair.
Blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard it before, right? YEP, I can relate to you. Unfortunately, unless you are conversing with someone who has experienced your pain or persevered through hardship, they will never fully understand the struggle we face each day just to live.
You’ll hear me refer to “age thirty” frequently because it took me thirty years before I discovered the ability that it’s okay to feel emotions and it’s okay to live my life however I want; independent of conforming to expectations or society. Up until I was thirty, I had never known what “happiness” or “joy” or “love” or “worthiness” truly feels like.
So what makes me an expert on this topic and why trust this “crazy lady”? Because I have also found hope at times when there should be none. I have found unconscious strength to bring me one more day of life. I have held my pain in for, literally, thirty years because I didn’t have anyone supporting me on my “care team” (what is a care team anyways – sarcasm). I’ve persevered against all odds to accomplish huge milestones (college degree, well paying career, owning my house and car, finally finding a partner who has made me feel love for the first time, ever – although, somewhere in there I did manage to successfully accomplish one divorce which oddly enough is a fabulously awesome milestone – not sarcasm this time).
I was made to believe that depression and anxiety weren’t a real thing. And up until I was twenty-eight I didn’t speak up for myself or seek help.
When I was twenty-eight, I started my self-improvement journey. In the last two years, I have tried eight different depression/anxiety medications and each one made me worse. Each had its own unbearable side effects – especially the SSRI’s, those are a doozy to my silly neurotransmitters.
Three days before my thirtieth birthday, I saw a psychiatrist (ARNP) for the first time. We did the usual intake bullshit (sorry I’m not sorry that I cuss from time to time) and then she asked if I had ever had a mental health genetic test. My response was obviously: “Um, whaaat? Is that even possible?”. The answer is YES, it is possible. Every medication I had tried was in the “dear God!!! do not feed that pill to this woman, ever!“ category. It wasn’t until she prescribed me a mood stabilizer (this would be the ninth medication) that I began to make significant improvements on my mental health issues (although, I hate using the term “issues” because they aren’t “issues” in the sense that they are “problems” – I didn’t ask for this – and no, its not fair to never experience happiness – plus! the next person isn’t any better than me just because they don’t share my issues – phew!).
I hope you’ll join me in the struggle that mental health forces upon each of us, everyday. Because I know what it’s like to not have anyone there on the most basic level of simply being present. And I know that when I’ve felt depression, pain, sorrow, and/or anxiety… that the one thing that I always wished for was to have someone physically present with me, someone to relate to, someone to say, “it’s okay to feel pain and to cry”, someone to tell me it’s okay to laugh at the fact that you’ve been crying for four hours or for four years; someone to validate my emotions and thoughts. I wish I had someone’s blog to read at 3 a.m. because I can’t sleep.
I hope to share my journey of self-discovery with you along with how I cope daily. I hope to enrich your life and for you to enrich mine. I will share the most excruciating memories from my past that make me the woman I am today. It is a journey that requires extreme vulnerability on my part … I have only shared this story with a handful of people within the last few months. Because it hurts like Hell to talk about this shit.
I’d love to know what brings you courage to continue? Where do you find your hope in the darkest moments? Why do you continue to choose to live? Remember, each person in this world is unique. Each person is worth living with their heart filled with love. I will always be mindful and respect you. I’ve learned that no one will share the same struggle as me but that does not mean we don’t share similar mental health abuse and “issues”. Let’s find strength in each other.
I promise that I will have faith in you and instill hope even when you don’t believe it’s possible. I will help you in every way possible so that you can endure through the bad times as well as the good.
Let’s persevere together.