The text of my last post has been sitting in my drafts folder since February. I suppose I wasn’t ready to expose my words to the blogosphere at the time they were strung together. I was in the early stages of emergence from an intense depressive episode, which started last summer. It’s been a long year.
There were many days that, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, uncontrollable thoughts of wanting to kill myself coursed through my head. One morning, I forced myself into the shower and got dressed for work. I remember I put on my bright blue pants. Fresh and clean, I sat on the edge of my bed in a zombie stare. My physical being was still, my mind was not. Thoughts of wanting to die sparred with thoughts that I needed to get out the door if I wanted to get to class in time. The rational part of my mind was telling me to get on with my day: go to class, go to work, and do this again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. It will get better. But minutes later I found myself in the kitchen, standing in front of an open drawer, staring at knives.
The mood rollercoaster associated with the course of depression still runs along the tracks these days, but the ride has slowed and the drops are more shallow. I have days now when I can throw my arms up in the air and grin so hard my face hurts. But I also have days when I have to push myself into the morning and pretend – smile and laugh. I still have moments when I feel that I’m not meant for this world; that I’m not built for it. I know this internal voice, this way of thinking, is a symptomatic trickster. I know this. And, at my core, I know the voice of depression and its deceit. I want to be here in this world, and yet, there it is: the darkness.
The dissonance of experiencing depression and having an awareness and rational understanding of its symptoms is an exhausting, lonely, all-consuming, and scary place to be. This internal dichotomous battle is so often misunderstood. We need to talk about mental illness and appreciate its existence. These conversations must be had. Sharing my experience, on an individual and selfish level, is a part of my healing, but I also believe it to be altruistic. I have enlisted to the growing army that is fighting the stigma so ubiquitously tied to mental illness. The weapons are words.