This has come as a surprise to people who know me. It certainly caught me off guard, shocked me and shook me. I had never experienced it before, and so it frightened me even more so. I am not one to leave issues unaddressed, however. I love myself, and I love a lot of people who love me too.
I am battling depression and anxiety.
Me. Happy Daisy. The girl who is always so positive, the one who lifts others up, the light in the lives of her friends and family (seriously, they have called me that), the one who wants to save the world. The badass, the go-getter, the adventurer, the brain.
I have been since early December, although I didn’t call it that. Initially, I had an emotional breakdown. Then, I cried and felt sorry for myself. I reached out to anyone who would listen to me – my closest friends and my Mom. I bawled. This lasted for about a week. I quickly identified what had triggered me, and thought that just doing that was all I needed to get out of the funk, and I did… But then it crept back on me and hasn’t left since.
I reached out to Cee, who told me that she has been struggling with depression. What? Oh no. Why hadn’t she reached out to me? I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, I never asked. She told me that she was getting better, she was seeing a therapist. She started off seeing him twice weekly, but now she only sees him once a month, because she’s better. It took her a while to find one she was comfortable with, one that clicked, but it was the best decision she could have made.
And so, I decided to take that step as well. Everything felt overwhelming, I was anxious, I was afraid, I was grieving losses that had happened and already grieving those that have not, I stressed. I was not sleeping well (I’m still not) and started losing weight rapidly (I still have not been able to put it back on). Maybe a therapist could talk me into feeling more like myself again, teach me new coping mechanisms, give me advice… SOMETHING.
I researched therapists covered by my insurance and found one not far from my place. I was able to make an appointment for that same week! I had to fill out lengthy paperwork, including a 30 minute questionnaire, one that made me dig way back into my past. Wow. We are going to uncover some shit with this. Let’s do it.
I cried during my walk there for my first appointment, emotional over the fact that I needed this. I arrived early and cried in the waiting room, nervous that I wouldn’t know where to begin, feeling immense loneliness the longer I waited. There was nobody around. Just a sign that read, “Please make yourself comfortable. Your psychologist will come out to greet you.”
She eventually did. She gave me a warm smile. Somehow, I immediately felt safe.
I don’t know how I did it, but I explained it all, within 90 minutes. I just talked and talked and talked. And cried, of course. I think I went through five or six tissues. She took notes on the questionnaire I had filled out. She asked me about the answers I made on it. We were going to get to the bottom of things. Not instantly in that first session, but eventually. We would figure out a plan for me, a map towards making me better again, mechanisms that would work for me. We clicked!
Towards the end of our first session, she said those words to me: “You’re depressed.”
I cried even more. As sad and overwhelmed as I had felt in those weeks, I never thought of myself as depressed. I knew something was wrong, I knew I wasn’t myself, I knew I was hurting, I was stressed, but… Not depressed.
I was, though. I had all the classic signs.
Cry. Deep breath. Heart racing. Another deep breath.
I am depressed.
I have gone through life never fully understanding depression, wanting those I loved who experienced it to get better, not always knowing what to say to them. Was I insensitive to them? Probably, yeah. Would people be insensitive towards me? They already had been. I’m in my thirties, I’ve been thriving, I’m optimistic, I’m ambitious. How could this be happening to me? Now? At this age? To me?!
It was happening, though.
At the end of my first session, my therapist told me to be as compassionate towards myself as I am towards others.
Oh. Oops. I saw it now. I spent so much time building others up, giving so much of myself to the people I love, that I neglected myself. Because on the surface, I was okay. Sure, I hurt every now and then. My heart was heavy at times, my self-esteem dropped at other times, but I coped and toughened up. Because others were going through so much worse. And I had to be strong for them.
All the while, I was sinking.
I wasn’t really coping. I was distracting myself. I didn’t address my feelings, my thoughts, my beliefs. I ignored them. And then? Then what happened?
Everything I kept within me, everything I failed to face and address, it boiled up inside me all at once and I exploded. It was bad. I won’t deny it. Very bad.
Unfortunately, the person who witnessed this explosion was… Just not the right person. His reaction could have pulled me up, it could have been a floating device that would encourage me to start swimming on my own again. Instead, it only pulled me deeper underwater. Much, much further than I’d ever been.
That was when my depression started.
I am still hurting. My mind is in turmoil. Some days, I feel confident that I am getting better. Other days, I sink. It’s a roller coaster.
My therapist and I are still trying to uncover things. We have learned that I am too hard on myself, I demand too much of myself. Why? Why am I like this?
We’re working on it.
I know I will get better. I need to trust the process, trust the journey. I am proud of myself for immediately seeking help, for recognizing that this was not okay for me, for not being afraid nor ashamed to open up.
I have definitely opened up. My goodness, my support system has been amazing! There with me every step of the way. Patient and compassionate towards me. I feel their love, I feel how much they care. Most importantly, I feel how much faith they have in me. They know I will get better, they tell me all the time. They tell me they are proud of me.
Mom, Dad, big brother, Cristina, Sarah, Nicole, and Cent. Thank you for being my lifeguards, my unofficial therapists between my sessions. I know I’m not better yet, I’m not in the clear yet, but I will get there, and it will be because of you as much as it is because of me. I could never repay you for all that you have done for me thus far and all I know you will continue to do. I love you all so much.
And thank YOU for reading this. I may share more of my journey. We shall see how I feel. I have another appointment with my therapist tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. Please send me positive thoughts. I don’t typically ask for them, but I need them now.