Welcome to my world.
In a time when lasting happiness is hard to come by and tears come more easily than real smiles, I have retreated into what little things I can. I delve into my little hobbies, trying desperately to fill my day with some light.
I spend hours in the therapeutic practice of drawing celtic knots, slowly carving out new designs in a strangely methodical improvisation. I retreat to my couch, sitting there for hours. I linger in bed far too long in the mornings.
I do what it takes to get through each day.
If you’re thinking that this sounds unlike me, too negative, and shocking… feel free to stop reading. I won’t blame you.
For those of you that stayed, thank you. Thank you for suspending your judgement.
I have not been blogging very much recently, and I need to be open about why this is. As always happens with me, when I talk about something, I’m never just talking about that one thing. My hiatus from blogging coincides with other far more important things.
A professor I have seen every day at 8am this entire semester long always tells us that “Confession is good for the soul.” In this case, I think he is correct.
Here, to you all, whoever you are, I confess: I struggle with depression and anxiety.
Please, leave your piteous looks and “Oh, I’m so sorry…”s at the door. If you utter so much as a “But you’re always so happy…” you can be sure not to let it hit you on the way out.
I am on a quest for realness in my life. I am a queen of masquerading, a most brilliant actress, and a very successful liar– yes, truly, to your face. I am lying with my entire life. I am lying to you, to those closest to me, and even to myself.
I lie every time I tell you that I am great when you ask me how I am doing that day. I lie every morning I leave my apartment with a deep breath, look in the mirror, and practice a smile.
I lie when I write blog posts about joy when I feel anything but joyous.
Depression affects every person differently. Yet, with most people, it occurs cyclically. Meaning my life becomes one big wave, riding up for a while and then slowly (or rapidly) riding down again.
My “episodes” can be circumstantial, but most often are not– meaning they have no basis in some big tragic event in my life or some emotional trauma.
I have recently been going through the longest “episode” I have ever experienced. I have felt depression symptoms for months now, when usually I only feel depressed for a day or two at a time.
And yes, before you can ask, I have been seeking appropriate treatment for a while now.
What brought me to seeking help in the first place was a crippling generalized anxiety that, thank goodness, has all but left me now. I learned to cope with it just as it took its exit. I know how to deal with anxiety. I know how to survive.
I do not know how to survive depression lasting this long.
I am writing this here as part of my quest for realness in my life. Blogging for me began as a beautiful outlet where I could write my thoughts and express my innermost creative self… but when I felt the pressure to “put on a happy face,” I had to stop.
This is why I have hardly written in months. Because I felt as though I could only post joyful, happy, energetic, and cheerful musings– otherwise, I would not be living up to “the image” that I wanted to have.
I felt crippling pressure at the thought of writing out an insightful, cheerful blog post when I felt anything but cheerful… and so, in being true to myself, I chose not to write at all.
I have to change this. As a cyclical and chronic disease, depression is a part of my life. I struggle with admitting this, and even typing this right now brings tears to my eyes.
My depression is not just going to go away overnight. Maybe not ever. I may always experience symptoms.
What I can’t bring myself to lose is those few outlets where I truly enjoy spending my time. I need this blog as a safe space for me to bring creativity into my world– but I HAVE to do this honestly. I am done lying.
So, here I am. Now you know. (Hilary Duff? Anybody?)
As I tell those closest to me when they ask me why I haven’t been engaging in my normal activities: “Depressed Mandi doesn’t do that.”
“Depressed Mandi doesn’t cook or go grocery shopping.” “Depressed Mandi doesn’t read.” “Depressed Mandi doesn’t blog.”
I am here, right now, changing that. Depressed Mandi DOES blog… at least when she wants to. You will get blog posts, but the tradeoff is pure honesty. This is who I am today. This is what I bring to the table.
I hope I have your support.
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert