Depression. The D-word. Let’s talk about it.
I’m having a pretty decent day today.
Currently writing this from a coffee shop in Golden, CO, I am perched in the back at a high-top with a plant, an iced coffee, and my steel flask of water. I biked here from my house, which is just a couple miles away. This morning, I woke up at 9:15am, started making coffee, then hopped a 9:30am phone call with a brand who wants to send me some cool things to test out.
Yesterday I didn’t get out of bed until 3pm, even though I went to bed around midnight. So, I slept for about 13 hours. Most of those hours were actual sleep, some were staring at the ceiling; my phone. I didn’t need the extra sleep. I have not been exerting myself. I even took a couple of naps the day prior.
So what’s going on?
I had two anxiety attacks Friday night and then hung out with people who drained me of all my energy. It’s not their fault – I am an introvert and people drain me. I also have a high bit of social anxiety right now, hence the anxiety attacks.
However, that’s not all that is going on. I’ve been sleeping most of my days recently, and what usually takes me 1 day to get done takes 3 right now.
Now that I’m in the thick of it, and can think clearly, I can see that for the last 15+ months I’ve been slowly entering a state of depression. It is a slippery slope, and I did not even realize it until this month that I’ve been on the path for over a year.
Yes – moving back to Texas made me very sad, but now that I’m back in Colorado, why am I still so void of passion and energy?
Our bodies store stress. Our bodies remember things. Our bodies remember what people have said to us. Our bodies remember what we have told ourselves.
My family has a history of depression, and in high school, I remember there would be a couple days every few weeks where I just laid in bed all day, moped around school, and was generally apathetic towards everything. Yes – teenagers act like this, but now that I’m 30 (31 tomorrow), these dips are more extreme. Plus, genetics play a huge role in mental health, just like they do in physical health.
This year has been the first year where I had intense moments where I felt like I could not handle what was going on in my head. I felt like all emotions were out of my control, and they were controlling me. My work, relationships, money, and productivity have all been affected.
Recently, I quit all freelancing and have started a full time position at Ethnotek Bags – an incredible company that is in line with everything I love and believe a brand should stand for. I’m so excited, but I also have the looming feeling like I don’t deserve such a sweet gig.
Gratitude is one thing that has been missing. Not for others, but for myself. I’ve had some past situations where a person would knock me down anytime I tried to share something that happened in my life I was happy about. I was met with criticism when I talked about new things I wanted to try. I eventually believed what they were saying and started saying those things to myself. I stopped thinking I should celebrate my successes – even if I worked my ass off, because of the “so what?” attitude coming from someone who should have simply been happy for me.
This is not why I am in the darkness, it’s just something that helped get me there. I bottled up a lot over the last 15 months, and our bodies translate that into stress, which triggers things like anxiety and depression. Also the food we eat, alcohol, and who we hang around: we absorb it all. From friends who are negative all the time, to work making you feel like you’re never enough: YOU DESERVE MORE. Stand up for yourself, when you are able to.
So here it is: I’ve worked my ASS OFF the last few years to get where I am. I have to recognize that and give my self a damn high-five! This will help rewire my brain and help pull me out of the darkness.
Other things I’ve been doing are:
- art and music: I have been using art to paint what’s in my head. It’s interesting and I’ll share one day. I have also joined a band and literally am elated after each practice.
- Climbing. Biking. I don’t have the energy to go running or hiking like I used to right now, but that’s ok. I’ll get it back.
- writing three pages every morning, even if I don’t want to (thank you, The Artists Way).
- reading books about mental illness to help understand what it is I’m dealing with (Touched with Fire).
- talking about it to my friends and family: holy crap, what a beautiful support system I have (Mom, Erin, Katie, Peter – love you all).
- writing this blog post: I am not going to be ashamed to talk about being depressed. I’m not trying to get sympathetic emails or messages in my inbox (also: please do not comment any tips or advice and don’t ask me if I’m ok – I am fine. I got this. I’m not writing for you). I’m writing this because I know there are people out there who will read this and feel less alone. I know how much it helps me when someone shares their story – it gives me confidence because I feel theirs.
So, here I am: nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. I am human, and right now, I’m having a hard time but I have reached out to family and friends, I work for a company who gets what I’m going through (and now I have health insurance again, yay!). I know I have the strength to get through this, even if I can’t see it most of the time right now.
I am here to listen if you are dealing with something similar. Let’s keep the conversation going about depression and drop the stigma.