By: Daphne W.
I’m pretty sure I’ve erased and restarted this blog post at least five times. I decided it’s because I’ve always felt like in order to tell a story, it has to have an end. It has to be finished, and I’m definitely not finished. I still live in the vise of depression and anxiety some days, and more days than not I am terrified to tell anyone who I am. My life consisted of feeling desperately alone for years, and because of this I feel like it’s okay to tell a story even though it’s plot hasn’t completely resolved yet. If I can give hope to even one of my anxious little flowers then it is worth it to try to tell a story that is not perfect because it’s mine, and because we are not alone.
The past is not as important as the present. Who I am today is partially because of who I was, but who I was does not define who I am. Today I still have bad days. I am still afraid, and some days I am still sad, but I am going to win. Depression and anxiety may have won some battles, but armed with doctors and loved ones at my sides, I believe that I will win the war. I am no longer someone who has a constant oppressive hatred of herself. I am no longer someone who feels unrelentingly alone. I am no longer afraid of laughter or of the dark. Today I am someone who dances alone on the tops of parking garages. Today I am someone who chases sunsets for as long as I possibly can. Today I am someone who listens to Frank Sinatra so loudly that it can probably be heard from ten miles away. I am no longer someone who feels too small to fight for my health. I am someone who believes in the power of love and modern medicine’s capability to heal wounds unseen. Today I am someone who believes that I can win this war. I may not be better, but I will get there. Someday.
I was absolutely unable to get here by myself, though. I needed other people. Despite years and years of trying to simply will my illness away, I needed other people to help me through it. I was always someone who could use the phrases like “people need other people” but never was able to follow through. I preferred struggling by myself to getting better out in the open. In the end, mental illness is not something that I could solve just by willing myself to get better. I loathed myself for not being able to try hard enough to get better. Only when I realized that “trying hard” wasn’t the way to fix myself could I actually focus on making genuine improvements to my well-being.
Being better isn’t a concrete thing. There are good days and bad days, and I know that better than most people. But more than that I know that mental illnesses are nothing to be trifled with. They are not things that can be ignored until they go away on their own. They require help. There’s this stigma associated with depression that says you’re weak if you’re suffering, and we propagate that stigma ourselves by refusing to let ourselves be vulnerable. We must be vulnerable. We were made for vulnerability, for the ability to let our guard down in order to relate to others and love them extravagantly. Our hearts were not made of stone; we feel and we feel deeply, despite the exorbitant number of times we tell ourselves that we’re dead inside. It is ok to feel. It is natural to feel. The walls we put up around our souls to keep people out are preventing us from getting better. Take a breath. Remember that it (no matter how cliché this sounds) truly is ok to not be ok. Take a breath, and ask for help. Somewhere along the line you’ll look back and be glad you did.
If I told you that I am completely better, I would be lying. If I said that I don’t have bad days, that would be a lie too. I am unfinished. There is more of me to be discovered, and to say that this story ends here would be a mistake. I am unfinished, but I am finally seeing who I truly am. I am unfinished, but I am strong. I am unfinished, but I am a beautifully messy work in progress. I am unfinished, and that is okay.
Take a breath. Remind yourself that vulnerability will be your strength. Take a breath. Get help if you need it.
You are loved. You are worthy. You are enough.