I have no problem sharing my story when people ask me about my depression or history of mental illness. The only comfort I get from having gone through so much is that maybe one day it will help someone else. There are two typical reactions after telling someone about your mental illness: the survivor and the glass. Some will look to you with admiration that you were able to survive such a feat and be where you are today. While others will, from here on out, always double check your reactions to a certain situation or treat you as though you might break. Both are equally hard to deal with.
For me personally, I don't feel like a true survivor because there are days where I'm not surviving or living, I'm just there. Whereas on the flip side, I don't appreciate being treated like I might fall apart at the slightest thing. I've gotten this far without everyone in my life tiptoeing around me, I don't need that to start now. I think most people dealing with a mental illness will tell you that we don't want the people in our lives to try and shield us from what's inside of us but simply to be there in the good times and bad.
When I say I am a mental illness survivor, I mean so in the terms that TODAY I survived my mental illness- I did not succumb to the darkest depths of depression or be pulled down by the weights of anxiety. But that's not every day. Some days are so freaking hard. There are days where I feel like I'm right back where I started and I've lost all progress. Days where I feel like nothing is working and no one is there for me. That's one of the hardest parts of having a mental illness: the fight to stay above water.
People like to use the quote that when you hit rock bottom there is nowhere to go but up- This is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. When you hit rock bottom, it feels like you may never breathe again and will forever be trapped in a world of black and white. Then once you can remember what it's like to have blood flowing in your veins, to be alive again, you have to claw your way up and out of the darkest point in your life. Some have people at the top cheering them on, supporting them in this feat.
The issue with that is while they can give words of encouragement, throw you down supplies and listen to your hardships, that doesn't prevent you from slipping. From taking that long drop down to your lowest point and feeling those feelings of despair over being back down here and losing the progress you worked so hard for. People at the top will try and understand and sympathize in the only way they know how. The question that everyone at the bottom asks is, "How long is that going to last?" I fell back down to rock bottom once and it could never happen again or it could happen 10 more times.
What's keeping them here for all of that? I think that's why people who suffer from mental illnesses, at least myself specifically, refrain from talking about feeling those old feelings again. Because even if you haven't slipped yet, people get really scared that you will and they try to limit what you do and where you go as an attempt to help you.
This year I feel like there are a lot of things I could point to that have triggered my depression worsening. Recently I've come to the conclusion that that won't do anyone any good, least of all, me. Knowing your triggers is important but blaming them for something you can't control isn't.
The concept of learning how to be okay with not being okay is something I am still trying to figure out for myself. There are days where I feel low enough to touch rock bottom and others where I feel like the top might finally be near. My issue is keeping all of that inside and being at school has caused me to revert to my old ways of smiling even though you aren't happy. I think my biggest reason for doing that is to not cause the people in my life excess worry about something they have no control over. I know that they would disagree with my opinion but what can I say? Old habits die hard.
My strategy now isn't that different and I'm going to try and be honest. Not necessarily reaching out to people when I'm feeling bad but telling people the truth when they ask.
"Baby steps." I've also pledged to stop beating myself up for not being where I want to be. The only way I know how to get there is by continuing to push forward no matter how many steps backward I take. Things are going to happen that set me back. I will make mistakes that make situations worse. I'm trying to remember that those don't define me. My mental illness does not define me. How I handle everything that comes afterward does.
Today wasn't great, but I have to have faith that tomorrow will be better. I have to believe that one bad day doesn't mean everything is falling apart. I have to accept that I won't always be okay and learn to be okay with not being okay.