Updated: Oct 21, 2020
"I will NOT let this define who I am and I will NOT let this CHOOSE who I become..."
It is no secret that I am pretty vocal about my feelings and views on certain matters... so here goes another one.
"I am sooooo depressed..." Watch your mouth. Depression isn't a word to just toss around. It's not an emotion. It's an illness > a disease. A disease that can put people 6 feet into the ground if not managed properly.
I have spent WAY too many years of my life living the bullshit faux perfect life. I grew up in the "perfect" world. Perfect by bullshit definition. On the outside, I had my shit together. As a young girl, I had long beautiful thick black hair that would make other girls jealous, I competitively danced and rarely got less than an A on an exam. I was an award winning clarinet player and I had made it into one of the toughest, competitive, private high schools in NYC. My striking, young, Asian American mom worked in "finance" (because that sounds fancy) and my blonde-blue eyed dad "worked construction" (because when you're Italian, that makes you sound gangster). I had a little sister who was super smart, as cute as can be, and funny as all hell. I had tons of "friends" in school, and hung out with the "popular" kids... shit, I WAS the "popular" kid. Perfect right? > insert eye roll <
No one ever saw me stare at the walls for hours and get lost in nowheres-ville. If I went hours or days without speaking to friends, they all just assumed I was busy studying. Mom never paid mind to me soooo.... yup, create your own assumption there. And my sister, well I have to say, thank God for her... but she was 6 years younger than me. She had no clue.
No one ever saw me taking Stacker 2 pills (remember those? There is a reason they were pulled from the shelf) because they gave me a jolt and for a few moments, I was able to get moving and show some signs of life. My friends just thought I had this great energy. The list went on...
Like I said, on the outside, everything was dandy. See, depression doesn't ALWAYS show its ugly face to the world. In an article written by Caroline Shannon-Karasik for Healthline.com, she states:
“Depression may inhibit the desire for activity and action, but high functioning individuals tend to forge ahead in an effort to succeed with goals,” says Mayra Mendez, PhD, psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. “The drive to accomplish often sustains action and moves high-functioning individuals towards getting things done.”
This means that some people who have depression may also still maintain everyday — and sometimes exceptional — tasks. Mendez points to notable figures who’ve claimed to have had depression, including Winston Churchill, Emily Dickinson, Charles M. Schultz, and Owen Wilson as prime examples.
But on the inside, I was a WRECK. Home life was NOT what it appeared to be on the outside. Let's call it what it was... a total shit show. I had extremely abusive parents (who lived separately), we barely had enough money to eat store brand corn out of a can, I wore new sneakers because I accidentally might have worn them out of the store, I got good grades because I was deathly afraid of the consequences, and I was able to go to my new fancy high school (for barely over a year) because my grandparents helped foot that bill. BUT again, ding ding.... insert HIGHLY functioning depressed kid over here.
Let's keep it moving...
When you are 15 years old and can't get out of bed, can't think straight, can't get the migraines to stop, lose interest in your friends, sports (dance), can barely eat, and can't get that SWITCH to turn back on.. that just MIGHT be a sign that something is wrong, dontcha think? Probably, but someone would need to notice.
I will never forget the afternoon I finally made it in to my house. It was right after Christmas recess ended. I had been sitting outside my front door, on the deck, in the freezing cold because my mother wouldn't allow me to have a key to my house. Every damn day, I had to wait until she came home to let me in. (School ended at 2:30. She did not get home until after 6pm). I do not remember any of those other days waiting in the cold... I am pretty sure I zoned out completely and disconnected from the world for those daily 3.5 hours... but I sure as hell remember this one.
My depressed state showed it's face -up close and personal- once I made it into my house. I was completely numb... not from the practical frost bite... but from the loss of feelings, emotions, and care. I had no fight left in me. Over 10 years of hell, pretending, hiding the pain and HURT. She won. I couldn't battle anymore.
"And I simply asked myself... will this feeling of emptiness ever go away? Will it always hurt? What the hell did I do to deserve this?
I ran upstairs to the attic because that's where my mattress on the floor was, sorry I mean bedroom... and into my bathroom. I knew nothing about cutting, but I knew enough to make the attempt. That was the day that my depression ALMOST won, and I woke the fuck up.
There's plenty more to the story, but I am not here to write a book today. I am simply here to share a little portion of my experience with depression and to let you know that it is no joke. It is not a term to be taken lightly. It's different than being sad. It's the absence of hope and care. It's the feeling that you will never experience happiness again. Every damn thought is a battle, every breathe just f*n hurts, and life is just really REALLY hard.
Pay attention to your loved ones, the people around you, the people you care about. If you work around children, teens, other humans... be mindful. When you go to the supermarket and someone bumps into you and doesn't apologize... don't hunt them down in the parking lot...
If you have ever taken a class with me, you will often hear me talk about different powers.... The power of NO.
The power of self love.
The power of touch.
The power of kindness.
The power of eye contact.
The power of talking.
The power of a SMILE > offer a smile to anyone who seems down. And offer an ear to anyone craving connection. You just never know....
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS TO TALK TO SOMEONE NOW. KNOW THAT YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
*Updated fact- I would by lying if I said that years of therapy helped me. What I needed to learn to move on in my life was that I was worth it. I was worth love, worth living, worth happiness, worth growing a family, worth being successful, and worth looking back at my reflection and smiling. Find your worth. Whatever it takes... find it. You deserve it.