I struggle publicly with depression (read all about it here, or here, or here) but I somehow always feel dirty when I look at the page view data for the articles I've written about what living with mental illness has been like for me.
I brought this up to a fellow Odyssey writer in our community and he reminded me that the reason we write about our hardships and lay it out for the world to see is not because we want to advance the status of our community's page, but because we know the kind of a difference an article like this can make.
We do it because we read stuff on the internet all the time that makes us feel like someone out there might just understand what we're going through and that we might not be alone as we feel. If I can write an article and make the slightest dent in someone else's emotional despair, then it's worth it.
If you find yourself relating to the following snapshots of how I've manifested depression in my everyday life, just know that you're not alone, that people care about you, and that you don't have to feel like you're living under a constant pressure of existential panic forever.
When I was leaving a semi-annual appointment at my dentist's office, the hygienist enthusiastically bid me farewell with a "See you in six months!" I responded too quickly and ended up saying, "Not if I'm dead!"
There's a note in my phone titled "Things That Make Me Happy" that I update daily as a reminder of why life might not be the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Sometimes I delete everything on the list and it stays like that for months.
I get frustrated when people talk about how important it is to "self-care" because no matter how many relaxing showers I take or yoga classes I attend, sometimes nothing really seems to make me feel any happier.
I have a hard time picturing any kind of a future for myself. A happy future sometimes feels like a wild fantasy.
I constantly put off upcoming assignments because I sincerely doubt I have the mental stability to keep myself alive until their due dates. Why spend time writing that fifteen-page paper about something I don't even care about if I'm going to be dead before I have to hand it in?
Most of my friends have talked me off of the ledge at some point and don't even realize they've done it.
I recently turned 21. When friends ask me what it feels like to finally be of the legal drinking age, I typically reply "I never thought I'd make it to 21." It sounds like I'm saying that it felt like it took ages for me to finally reach the big two-one, but I'm really saying that I'm shocked I've been able to hold my fragile mental state together for this long. Most days I just can't believe I haven't killed myself already.
The worst part of my day is almost always waking up and realizing I have some kind of obligation to exist.
I incessantly preach about how important it is to seek treatment for mental illness even though I refuse to go back to therapy because I don't like having to talk about my problems out loud.
If you find yourself struggling with depression and/or thoughts of suicide, here are some resources that can help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
Colgate's Counseling Center Crisis Hotline: (315) 228-7333 or make an appointment online.
Colgate's Shaw Wellness Center: (315) 228-6076