I Struggle With Mental Illness, Did You Know?

I Struggle With Mental Illness, Did You Know?

Faking everything is OK doesn't help.
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Getting out of bed in the morning is no easy task for someone who struggles with depression or even other mental health illnesses, making everyday life more impossible as the symptoms worsen--things that people all too often take for granted. Hello, I am Kelsey Hoffman and I live with Dysthymia, mild chronic depression. The majority of my friends and family have no idea that I have struggled with this mental illness for many years now; I have become a professional at hiding it. For the longest time, I believed that this was the way to handle my depression. I have, over the years, discovered that this technique is in fact not the best way to handle my daily struggles. In fact, it is not a way to handle my daily symptoms at all, it never made them go away; it really just masked them from the world around me.

Dysthymia is a form of depression and is not as severe as Major Depressive Disorder. Though I can have periods of time where I am majorly depressed, this just depends on the person and their illness. Symptoms for Dysthymia are the same as Major Depressive Disorder. The only difference is that Major Depressive Disorder requires at least five symptoms to be diagnosed while it is less than five for Dysthymia. The symptoms include:

A list that is rather intense and the symptoms happen more days than not, pretty hard to avoid that. Luckily I do not have more than five symptoms often, but that does not mean I do not have those times. Depression is a feeling like you have lost something but you have no clue when or where you last had it. Then you come to the realization that what you lost was yourself.

Daily happiness is something that I have to force upon myself. I am slowly teaching myself how to help live a better life with my symptoms as best I can without the use of medication. It has been a long time since I started struggling with depression and I am now figuring out how my mood changes right before the depression is going to get to be too much to function. This doesn't always work for everyone and even for me, it doesn't work every time. I try to surround myself with a lot of people and not be alone, but the mind is very powerful and it can override the distractions I try to give it.

Being a college student under extreme amounts of stress does not always help my mental stability. When your mind is already telling you that you are worthless and stupid, which likely won't be true, but you get a grade back and your mind might have been right that time. It helps add to the downward spiral that is currently happening prior to that grade that ever crossed your eyes. The reality that you need to do well and be successful becomes a shadow that follows you around and you are getting beat up from all ends. It gets to a point where nothing anyone can say will help your mindset.

Being depressed is often a saying that people say just when they are sad or overwhelmed. Now I know that they do not mean it but sometimes it can get rather irritating simply because they have no idea what it actually means to be depressed. A state of mind that is not always brought on by some sort of trigger in life, a mindset that catches on and does not let go no matter what people say. I know now that they mean nothing by it but words really do mean something and it is important to remember what you say around people who actually struggle with depression or anything else for that matter.

In reality, the seasons changing are not the best for me. Less sunlight brings moods down. Recently I have been struggling due to my ability not to fully work out like I used to. Other health reasons that are still lingering leave me without my daily dose of endorphins that working out gives me, something that I know helps my overall mood and gives me genuine happiness. As I step back into the working out world it is slowly helping, but school and overall stress of finical instability and the constant coming and going of people in life does not give me the proper stability that I need. It is chaotic, but let's be honest, that is just how life works.

Some people have told me that it is just something I need to pray over and God will take it from me. I promise that I have attempted that and clearly, I am meant to live with this struggle. It is something that I have to fight through but I know I can lean on God for strength when my own fails me. A common misconception is that being a Christian makes your life easier because you have God on your side, unfortunately it doesn't make life easier. It does help make the trials easier. Depression is an illness, not a choice. So God might take mental illness from people but it has become a part of my unique story and it is being used to reach a world of people who struggle too.

I do not know if I will have Dysthymia for the rest of my life or if I will eventually need the help of medication. As for now, I am living my days to the fullest and counting my blessings when the days are good. If you struggle with depression, you are not alone. Our minds tell us that we are unworthy and alone, but that is not a fact. If you know people with depression, be patient with them and continue to try and help them as much as you can. I know my friends have helped me over the years and I am grateful for them. Just because I act happy doesn't always mean it is genuine, hard to believe but it is the truth. Depression is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of a person who has been strong for a long time.

Cover Image Credit: Harvard Health

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
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I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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