This is something I feel I really need to address, and having gone through everything I am about to write about, I hope I can help some of you who may be going through the same thing right now or that someone who has gone through depression, and has realised what I have realised will relate to this. (Note: This post is more aimed at people who have depression/ mental illness related to trauma/ life events etc; not really at those who are clinically depressed with chemical imbalances in their brains - but it might be worth a read anyways)
I had depression. There, I said it. It's not something I'm embarrassed about, but it's not exactly something I'm proud of either. I suffered a lot of trauma and loss last year, and that brought up a lot of other past issues which I had surpassed for a long long time. Although in the beginning, when my trauma was still fresh in my mind I only focused on that, but as time went by and I sunk into a much darker and more numb place, I became depressed about a lot of things. I had no enthusiasm or will to do anything. Nothing was fun anymore, at all; even things that before would have made me excited, just made me shrug my shoulders and hope that I could procrastinate for as long as possible. I was extremely suicidal for a very long time, and depression (and to a large extent anxiety (because of the trauma)) took over most of my thoughts and time. I wasn't focused, and I was constantly lethargic and sick. Although I exercised, it wasn't enough to give me a big boost of energy, and I had (and very often still have) issues with body image and self confidence - so often I would have the attitude of 'what's the point in doing this if I'm just going to feel like crap anyways?".
I went to a psychologist almost immediately after the tragedy struck me. First to the school psychologist, and then after about 2 weeks I went to an outside of school psychologist. Although it was great to talk to someone, and that's exactly what I needed for the first few months, nobody really understood what I was going through. I'm not going to divulge too much, because it's personal; but I will say that many people at my school were struck by this trauma, but I was way more involved because it hit way closer to home and I knew certain things and people better than others, so after a few weeks most people around me moved on with their lives while I was stuck in a pit. People listened, but no one knew what I was really going through and no psychologist could wave a wand and make me un-depressed. My family refused to put me on anti-depressants, because of family history, so I felt like I was fighting a battle alone. I used to think that psychologist could make you feel better or fix things or that they would give you great advice on how to change your life, but that's just not how it works. They listen, repeat what you say back to you in a different way and they remain objective and professional, so often you feel more drained after coming back from an appointment and feeling you have no where to turn to.
Then I stopped the psychologist, because I felt like I was just repeating myself and going nowhere. For a long time after that I became so so cynical abut everything. It's my worst character trait and I hate it, and the cynicism really started manifesting itself into a big ugly monster, and it's a bad habit that I still have to really work on and some days it gets the better of me. I became cynical of happy people. It sounds so stupid, but it was so real for months. I felt like I was never going to be happy again, and that everyone I saw who was 'happy' (whether it was on social media or in 'real life') as fake and attention seeking. I thought that they were all either liars and were depressed inside, or I thought that they hadn't had enough life experience to ever understand sadness or hardship (the latter though usually being aimed at wealthier kids who's daddies did everything for them). I felt like they didn't have the capacity to understand heartbreak and I felt like their lives were too perfect for the real world. I became suspicious and secretly hateful of overly happy people because I thought they were hiding something from me or trying to gain my trust so that I would tell them my secrets. God, was I wrong; but I am so glad I realised this, because otherwise I would still be suicidal and in a pit of numbness.
But then I saw this quote. I was scrolling through my Instagram one morning, and I realised it was up to me to change things. It was so difficult at first, but this catharsis lead me to where I am today. No psychologist can fix you, and drugs will only numb the feeling, not take the depression away. You HAVE to take things into your own hands and you have to have the right attitude to do so - you can't half-ass recovery; it doesn't work like that. You have to make a conscious decision to change things for the better and it is very hard in the beginning, and some days I really still hit a low and I have to remind myself of how far I've come since last year. I started by changing my social media. I deleted all my Instagram posts, because I felt that they represented a time in my life when I was really unhappy and looking at those pictures brought back a lot of memories from times when my smile was faked and I had no colour in joy life. Next I deleted all my We Heart It, Tumblr and Pinterest posts and replaced the old pictures with colourful images of healthy food, beautiful views and pretty clothes.
I think the reason why this is so hard to do is because you are making all of these small, yet amazing changes towards your own recovery, and although you notice the change people around you don't, because half the time they don't even know that you are depressed or anxious, they just assume you're shy and don't care about participation in school etc. But if you push through, it becomes so worth it.
I also (for the most part) stopped making excuses to not go to social events or do things that I was on the fence about. If I was 50/50 about a decision that would majorly impact my life, I would say yes; and through this I realised that if a party or a lunch with friends wasn't all that greta, it wasn't as if I had wasted my time because I would have anyways sat at home lazing around, had I not attended. I also started offering kindness instead of cynicism (I still have to sometimes remind myself to do this). I would offer help to people I didn't know that well, or would try and make conversation with someone on the elevator. Even something as simple as smiling at a stranger who I could tell was having an off day - sometimes that really is all you need to feel better. I also started eating healthily and allowing myself to have cheat meals (not days), instead of punishing myself for eating badly and bingeing for feeling guilty and continuing that cycle. I worked out with more enthusiasm and was more goal driven.
Things in my head started falling in place, and after a while it struck me that if I was happier on the inside, it radiated on the outside and people found me more approachable (I know, corny right? But it is so true). through my depressive period I realised who my real friends were and what friendship really means. I am so happy I discovered this because now I really do not care what people think of me, if you like me - cool, if you don't? Well, frankly, not my problem. And now with less than a year left of high school before I go off to university I realised that I REALLY DO NOT CARE what anyone thinks of the way I dress, do my makeup, post on social media, and I don't really even care if I slip up and say something embarrassing or controversial, because I will never see most of the kids in my school ever again. I'm not one for sentiments, and I'm not head girl or a prefect or on any committee. I don't strive to leave a legacy behind at my high school, because honestly, in 5 years no one will care who was a prefect and who was in the first team for sports. I don't really care if people remember me or not; but if my name is ever brought up in conversation after I graduate I hope that people can say that I was kind and honest and self assured in what I do, because I am that now. I know exactly who I am and where I am going and I won't let anything stand in my way, especially negativity and people who will try to drag me down. I am me, and although I will never be perfect I am working on myself, by myself for myself; each day is a new challenge and a chance to better myself and get a step closer to my goals.
I really hope this related to some of you, and hopefully can inspire you and motivate you to seek and better person within yourself.
Until the next post
- The Traveling Oyster xxx