For someone who has openly expressed that they have overcome a mental illness such as depression, there's a lot of assumptions that come with being "okay."
First of all, I'm not 100% better every day all day. There will be moments when I look at someone that has such beautiful hair and I'll immediately think of a way I could go about looking like them, or how I could get around the genetics that get in my way, but then I'd give up and realize that I'll never look like them and then I'll continue to hate the way I look. I'll start to fall back a little to how I used to be–comparing myself to every person that walked by, noticing every beautiful feature they have that I don't. It makes me cry sometimes. But then I look back in the mirror and look at all the things that make me beautiful–the things that make me unique. It's a very hard thing to do. Somedays, I just don't want to get out of bed. I'm annoyed that I woke up in the first place and I want to avoid as much interaction with the outside as possible. I even walk around with my head down, avoiding eye contact. I see someone I recognize and look the other way because I don't know how to say hello, I don't know if they want to talk to me, I don't know if they saw me too. I won't participate in class because I don't want anyone to pay attention to me. I won't text back any of my friends because I don't want to leave my bed or I don't want company.
This is not to be confused with "I'm still struggling with my depression," but rather that I still have those days. I still have to fight against it every once in awhile.
No, I should not be a therapist. A lot of people tell someone that has overcome their depression that they should be active in mental health awareness or that they should do something to make a change. Often, they tell them to become a therapist. I, personally, should not become a therapist because I have an emotional attachment to everyone and everything just because I'm a very loyal person and I would (more often than not) put someone else before me. My health is just as important as someone else's and sometimes I might get myself too invested in a very emotionally fragile situation and I have to take a step back because I find myself drowning in their own struggles and that is very unhealthy. I started a suicide awareness group around 3 1/2 years ago and although it was helping a lot of people, I had to take a break because it wasn't healthy for me to take on other peoples' struggles when I wasn't totally secure myself. I definitely think that survivors and fighters should share their story and want to help others, but there needs to be boundaries and limits. Anyone who has once overcome depression can very well go back to their dark place, sometimes easily. It's better to do things like writing for The Odyssey to help others, as I have come to find.
When I'm having my bad days, I'm not "overreacting." It's almost like depression PTSD because sometimes it only takes a moment to be reminded of what it was like to be in my dark place. Sometimes all the coping skills and everything I worked on to keep me better goes out the window. Sometimes I really feel like I'm falling back, but then the moment ends and I look around and I realize... It's Mary in 2016... not Mary in 2013... I'm okay. It doesn't help to be told to "get your shit together" or to "stop acting like a kid," or whatever have you. It just takes a little time to come down from an "emotional flashback," because that's what it feels like–it feels like the feelings I worked so hard to overcome start flooding in again and I don't remember what it was that helped me. In moments like these, I just need time to ride through the emotions until I come back down. In these moments, I can't be expected to make decisions or articulate what's happening because even I am not sure what's happening.
The battle is never completely over. Like I said, there are moments when you remember what it was like in your dark times and there are days when you don't want to get out of bed because you don't want to be reminded of the prettier people. I may be okay, I may be better than I was, but I still have my days. So many people assume that I'm "stronger than ever," and that may be true, but I still have a long way to go.
The message is, I'm okay, but I'm not perfect. Anyone who is struggling and fighting through depression is going to go through this at some point and eventually reach full peace of mind. For now, that day is not today, but I'm not "depressed." I'm just living my life and taking whatever comes at me one day at a time, and I advise that everyone–depressed or not–does the same.