When people ask me if I’m still depressed(yes, people do have the audacity to ask THIS so bluntly, like I should just KNOW this off the top of my head), I’m usually one to smile politely and shake my head no(well, to those who are well-intended, at least). And for the most part, I am being completely honest. Even on my bad days, I am still full of hope. Hope for better tomorrows, no matter which obstacles I am faced with. Hope was the missing puzzle piece to the function I lacked in my life, the one I searched for desperately, when depression was hiding underneath the table, holding it this entire time, laughing at my declining emotional state. I was convinced nothing could ever make me happy again. And even with the knowledge I was not okay, I still continued to deny the inevitable.
In retrospect, there is NOTHING which I can compare to the plunge down the dark rabbit hole, the one which consumed my entire life for years..a gradual(yet severe) decline to the bottom. My rescue was prolonged as I denied my mental health state for years, but generally swift once I finally reached out for help. While it was one of the scariest experiences of my life, it was the most rewarding. Giving a name to my demons was empowering; it gave me a way to control them, because yes, they still return from time to time.
To be completely honest, I don’t know if depression is a disease that ever fully goes away. Like I said, my demons still lurk quietly in the background, taunting me with insults in moments of weakness. “You are worthless. You are fat. You are ugly. You are going nowhere in life. You have let everybody down.” Except no longer are the volume of their voices ear-shattering screams which consume my entire being. Now they are meek whispers, ones I can easily drown out by simply reaching out to the resources and support available to me.
People become nervous, agitated, almost annoyed when somebody like me is so open with my disease. “What does SHE have to be depressed about?” She hasn’t dealt with this or that or (insert tragedy or horrible situation here). YES, I am THANKFUL beyond reason that in my life, I haven’t had to deal with anything majorly traumatic which I could account for many of my mental health issues. But what does that change? Does that make my conditions less legitimate? Are you a doctor? Are you a scientist? Some sort of neurology expert? Do you know the extent of my brain chemistry? Do you even understand what you’re saying? Thought so.
I’ve actually had the term “white girl problems” thrown in my face over my mental health issues. No, I am not “depressed” because Starbucks made my latte wrong or my hair isn’t as long as I want it to be. Nice attempt at a joke, though. And even if I were upset over something so trivial, I am educated and tactful enough to use a different way to describe my feelings than desensitizing a disease, even if I didn’t happen to suffer from this one in particular.
Why does there have to be a solidified reason? I’ve spent hours, days, months, YEARS analyzing why I was so unhappy, so unsatisfied with everything related to my life, despite the fact from the outside looking in, it was one which many would enjoy. I’ve felt so incredibly selfish over this, it took me months to even come to terms with it after my diagnosis, after my ignorance was depleted. The revelation I eventually came to is comforting(with the help of my therapists). Depression doesn’t discriminate- it doesn’t care where you’re from, or what you look like, or who you are. Simply put, it’s like cancer…it doesn’t care. There are some habits or conditions which can contribute to getting cancer or a mental health illness, but a lot of the time…it just happens. It’s biological. It was supposed to happen…for whichever reason we may discover, or we may not.
There is nothing I could have done to avoid it. This notion was drilled into my head after my diagnosis…I was dealt some pretty shitty brain chemistry, thanks to genetics and well…God’s will, I guess. Or maybe not, I don’t know…but I’m done trying to figure it out. It is what it is. I am who I am. It does not define me in any way, and even if it does, I’m not ashamed. No longer will I hide it from anybody who wonders WHY somebody like me was/is depressed.
So when people continue to ask me WHY, I will continue to counter with statements which defy the logic it’s a choice. If that means I have to compare it to diseases which society does view as important or real or issues which need attention, then I will. I will continue to prove wrong those who decide to belittle my condition in order to make themselves feel about their lives(actually, I have no idea WHY people decide to do this, I can only assume they’re bored but if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share). I will continue to educate to the best of my ability, even though I am learning about myself every day, and of course, no two people are exactly alike. I will continue to fight to #EndTheStigma, so generations after me will be given the treatment and respect they deserve as a whole when seeking help for mental health issues, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, or who they are- no matter what.