EVERY STORM HAS A RAINBOW

EVERY STORM HAS A RAINBOW

DO NOT GIVE UP OR YOU WILL NEVER GET TO SEE THE RAINBOW.

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Depression is ruthless and it does not discriminate.

I was about to start my freshman year of college and I was looking forward to a new experience. I grew up in a strict Christian home, and for the first time in my life, I wanted to do my own thing. I still believed in God but I no longer wanted to live for him. I was ready to just let loose and have fun. At the time I did not think that living a life for God would ever make me happy.

I spent my freshman year partying hard and I thought I was living the good life. I knew that if I lived for God that I would not be able to party like this. I just knew that would not make me happy and I wanted to do what made me feel good at the moment. All my friends were going out and we were all having a good time, and I did not want to give this lifestyle up.

It was not long before I completely hit rock bottom and it all happened at once. I saw some pretty sketchy things and I was always putting myself in bad situations. I had to leave behind a lot of friendships and I was lonely because the friends I had were only there for a good time. The friendships I had were not genuine and my so-called friends did not even know who I was they just wanted to have a good time.

I will never forget telling my parents that I was broken and I did not know what I was going to do. I was ready to give up on life because I thought I no longer had a reason to be alive. It was hard for me to be open about this to my parents. I was scared that they would not look at me the same. I did not want to cause my parents' any more pain than I already had.

My parents were so understanding and even though it was hard to talk about I might not be here if it were not for them. I learned that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I was not weak because I struggled with depression. In fact, it takes a lot of strength to come out and say that you struggle with depression.

I was going to overcome my depression and I was determined. This was not something that would happen overnight, and it was not something I could do alone. I knew at this moment that I needed God and I could no longer live this old lifestyle. I almost lost everything from the lifestyle I was living.

Sometimes I forget just how far I have come, and some days I am disappointed in myself. It is so easy to forget where I once was, and it is even easier to compare myself to others. When I look back on my past I laugh because I almost threw everything away for nothing.

If I was not sitting here writing this today there would be so much that I would have missed out on. I wish I could say that life gets easier and it all goes away, but if I told you that it gets easier that would be a lie. I would say my life has made a turn for the better. Sure, I still have bad days but if it were not for the bad days I would not enjoy the good days nearly as much.

One thing that I have learned from this journey is that you should always speak up. I know that you might tell yourself that no one cares or that you do not want to seem weak. I was this person I thought that no one would care about my depression. This is a lie so many people even strangers have cared and listened to me. I thought that being open about my depression would make me feel weak, but it has made me feel so much stronger than I could have ever imagined.

I hope that if you are struggling mentally that you go get help. I know that it seems scary to talk about mental health, but I promise you feel so much better once you get help. At one time I was that girl who had no where else to go, and I was ready to throw everything I had away. I made a scary choice to get help and my life took a completely different turn for the best.

Take all your insecurities, doubts, fears, and all your other burdens and lay them down. I gave this all to God and he worked through my life in mysterious ways. He never failed me and he never abandoned me. Even when I lost all my friends and pushed away all my family. The one thing that remained true was that God never left my side.

There are no words that could ever fully capture the true picture of depression. The best way to describe it is like a storm. Sometimes in life, we may face storms that break us down. After every storm comes a rainbow and gives you a chance to build yourself back up. Just because the storm is over does not mean that there will not ever be another storm. Without the storm, you would never be able to see the rainbow.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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The Things Nobody Told Me About Depression, But I Really Wish Somebody Would Have

I was diagnosed with depression six months ago. These are some of the things that I wish I had known sooner.

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There are a ton of things about having depression that no one will tell you. For example, something that no one ever told me about depression is that I have it.

I was diagnosed with depression in December of 2018 - just six months ago. But my therapist tells me that, based on what I've said about my mental state, I've likely had depression since elementary school, if not earlier.

The fact that I've had depression for so long and not know about it only goes to show how easy it is for one to live with mental health issues and never know it.

The fact that I apparently developed depression at such an early age only goes to show that mental health issues do not exclusively affect people only after they have lived and experienced all that life can throw at them.

The fact that I have had a pretty good life - a loving family, success in academics, never experiencing severe poverty - only goes to show that mental health issues are not always caused by shitty life experiences and traumas.

These are all things that no one ever told me about depression, and things that I never knew until I got to college and took a psychology class focused on mental health issues.

I did not know that depression can hide for years without you ever knowing about it.

I did not know that depression can manifest even in young children.

I did not know that depression can affect even those living happy lives.

These are things no one tells you about depression.

These are things that I had to learn by myself, and things that I am still learning how to compromise with the reality of my own life experience.

It's no one person's fault that I didn't know these things, it was the fault of a societal system that didn't know it needed to be concerned with such things. The early 2000s, when my young brain was developing and learning how to cope with the world, were not exactly focused on mental health in children. By the time people realized that children were suffering from depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages, I had already been living with my own issues for years, and I thought that my experiences and interpretations of the world around me was normal - that this was how everybody felt, that this was all normal. I didn't think that the symptoms that our counselors and teachers warned about at the beginning of each school year applied to me.

Nobody told me that depression isn't always sadness and crying.

Nobody told me that sometimes depression is a creeping grey numbness that clouds your brain. That sometimes it is a blurring and a muting of your emotions until you feel nothing at all. That such nothingness is worse than any level of sadness you would ever feel.

Nobody told me that depression isn't constant.

Nobody told me that I would have good days amid the bad ones. That every now and then, a day in a week or a day in a month or a day in a blue moon, I would have all of my emotions sharp and bright and my smiles would be as soft as they were genuine and I would relish the taste of the air around me. That these good days don't invalidate the bad days and mean that I don't have depression after all.

Nobody told me that once I was diagnosed with depression it would simultaneously feel like a weight had been lifted and like a punch to the gut all at once.

Nobody told me the relief that I would feel at the explanation and the knowledge that I might not always have to live like this. That I would also feel my understanding of my life flipped upside down, because if the way I have been experiencing the world is because of a disease, then what does that mean for the validity of my life and who I am?

Nobody told me that there would be a part of me that feared to get better, because who would I be without depression? Without this parasite that has somehow been such a constant throughout my life?

Nobody told me that I would begin to question which parts of my personality are "real" and which parts of me are the depression?

And if those two things can even be separate? And if so, will I ever be able to say I am better, if these parts of me developed through depression are still a part of me once I am "recovered"?

Nobody told me how scary that thought would be.

But what people have told me is that recovery is possible. They have told me that life gets better. That those good days that I used to find - unexpected yet welcome - could become my normal day. That I can be my own person, separate from my depression, and I can grow stronger, and happier, and more vibrant and more driven and MORE.

These are the things that people have told me, and these are the things that I remind myself of.

Nobody told me how lonely depression can be, but I hope that this article might make you feel a little less alone, and a little more prepared, and a little more understood.

I am not an expert. I still do not know everything, and my experience is my own, and in no way represents a majority or speaks on behalf of everyone out there suffering from depression. But I know now that I am not alone in my own experiences, and I hope that whoever is reading this, if you need it, maybe now you can know that you are not alone in yours.

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