Depression is a word we hear a lot more than we ever have before. Unfortunately, if you haven’t dealt with it on your own it can be really hard to understand. When I used to think of depression I thought of sadness. Boy, was I clueless. For me depression has nothing to do with being sad. I describe depression as a form of dread, emptiness, loneliness, a feeling of not being enough, a hollow feeling. My depression started very mildly in my early 20’s and the longer I ignored it the worse it got.
I noticed it escalating in 2015. I was angry a lot, I lashed out at the people closest to me, I was unhappy in every way. It went on for a year until the beginning of 2016. I had enough. I was exhausted. I knew I wasn’t happy. I was overly sensitive to things. I was angry and mean. I was finding myself using alcohol as a way to push it all aside. I was tired of being angry all of the time. I was tired of lashing out at the people who meant the most to me so I made an appointment to get some help. If I knew then what I know now I would have never gone to my primary care physician for mental health. I don’t find PCP’s to be educated enough when it comes to mental health and a lot of them just throw pills at their patients. I was put on a mild antidepressant and told they would call me with a referral for a therapist. After a week or so of going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to start the prescription I started it. I’m not someone who likes taking medicine. It was a challenge for me to start and one I only talked about with a few people. I felt ashamed that I had to take a pill to make myself feel better. I don’t like asking for help and having to rely on a medication wasn’t going to be easy. I never got the phone call from my PCP with the referral for the therapist. So I just started to try to work through it on my own. I took the prescription and hoped that in a few months I would start to feel like myself again. Whatever that felt like.
When it comes to depression you are the only one that can help yourself. Yes, there are lots of tools out there and professional help, but you need to take the steps on your own to get that help. You need to be ready. You need to work on it yourself. You need to push yourself. You can’t get your happiness from another person or group of people. The girl I was at the start of 2016 is unrecognizable to me. She is a shattered piece of glass being held together by a window frame. Each piece of glass in that frame is a different piece of her. There’s a piece of glass that represents the sadness she feels, the loneliness, the feeling of being unworthy, emptiness, the dread, the anger. There is the piece of glass that is the guard she constantly keeps up. There is the piece of glass that doesn’t let anyone in beyond a certain point. There’s even small pieces of happiness and joy, but those pieces are surround by so many negative pieces she doesn’t even notice them.
I’ve avoided relationships my entire life. I keep a safe distance. I don’t want anyone to see me. I don’t want to be vulnerable and let someone in. I don’t want to deal with rejection or the pain of them leaving. Saying goodbye isn’t easy for anyone, but as a sensitive person it sticks with me for a long time. I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of people and in a lot of different ways in my life. It’s never easy and it never gets easier. I used being overweight as a way to blend in to the background. As a way to go unnoticed. At this point in my life I had lost over 100 pounds and I was doing everything BUT blending in. People were seeing me. People were noticing and it was overwhelming. I didn’t know how to handle it. It was too much. I needed a change.
February 14th, 2016 I was signing an apartment lease with a friend I thought I would have forever. Starting a relationship with someone I hoped would stay around longer than he did. I was excited and motivated, but those things were just distractions from my inner battles. Fast forward a few months later and my relationship was over. My friendship had turned so toxic my home was an unwelcoming place. Things were supposed to get better, but things were only getting worse. My mental state was only getting worse. I had taken two huge steps in my life. I had taken the leap and decided to sign that lease. I thought it was what I needed. I needed out of the situation I was in at home. I needed my own space. Looking back I did need all of those things. I don’t regret it because it pushed me to make other decisions in life. It showed me what I needed to do in order to reach the current goals I have for the future. I had also taken the leap to let someone in. I let someone see me for the first time in my life. I opened up and was vulnerable even after explaining my fears and before I knew it I was sitting alone on the couch in my apartment on a Friday night thinking to myself, “This is exactly what you were afraid of. This is exactly what you knew would happen. You are an idiot.”
The weeks following that night on the couch were probably worse than I realized at the time. My days consisted of a morning run, work, gym, dinner and bed. I wasn’t going out. I wasn’t talking to my friends. I was quiet and reserved. I felt like someone took a stick and poked that shattered piece of glass in that window frame and suddenly the pieces had just fallen, broken everywhere. I felt more alone than I ever felt in my entire life. I was dealing with an internal battle I had never dealt with before. I reached out to a friend and made an appointment with a therapist she had told me about. I sat with that therapist weekly for a few months, but wasn’t noticing a difference so I stopped going. My situation at home with my roommate escalated and I had to move out suddenly to get away from it. There I was 7 months later with everything I owned thrown on my parents porch, mentally alone in every way. They always say things get worse before they get better and I was at the beginning of proving that theory right.