Depression isn't a black and white illness. It is both, and neither, and every shade in between. It is a constant struggle, mentally exhausting and sometimes pushes you to your physical limits. And it is changing, always changing, with a multitude of feelings and emotions and symptoms that manifest so differently each and every day. Sometimes we just cant find the words to describe how we're feeling and we cant find the good things to take the burden off our minds. Sometimes dealing with it seems like a neverending struggle that just isnt worth the effort. I know what thats like, so Im writing this article today to shed light on a struggle that so many people face daily, and hopefully can provide some relief through sharing a bit of my personal history.
A lot of people who suffer from chronic depression often feel as if they have no way out. Like their troubles are too much for their mind, that all the effort they put into getting rid of their illness is futile. Suicide may not be an option, or isnt always a part of someones depression. Instead, they turn to the closest, unhealthiest methods of coping in the hopes that they will get a sufficient distraction from the pain that is their everyday life. Sex, booze, drugs and cigarettes, gambling, self mutilation, it sounds pretty appealing when you're on the brink of a self destructive breakdown. I know what thats like. And once you get started the cycle is hard to break. Most people give up, because of how hard it is. But it can be done.
It took me five years of running myself into the ground to finally sit back and say, "Im not okay. And I need to stop pretending to be, because all Im doing is hurting myself and everyone around me." Now 5 years may not seem like a lot of time, however I am not as old as a lot of people may suspect. I know too many people are afraid of getting help or even helping themselves. Of showing others how they are. They're afraid it will make them seem weak, or like theyre attention seeking, or like someone will look at them and laugh as if their problems aren't valid. But let me tell you something. The second that the realization that I needed help sunk in, I broke. I cried, I sobbed, I realized just how much I loathed my own existence. But at the same time, I felt free. Really and truly free.
I had a problem, one that wasn't going away on its own. And although I hated the idea, I started getting the help I needed. I focused on making myself feel better through healthy coping methods, breaking the destructive cycle. This is where it gets hard for a lot of people, myself included. Figuring out good outlets for your illness can be extremely challenging, especially when you constantly feel like youre stuck in a rut. But if you find something you love doing, hold on to that and don't let it go.
For me, finding someone I trusted and focusing on art and music were my go to outlets. It was hard, but I started opening up in online forums, blogging, making friends and inspiring people to reach out and keep trying. I found love in so many different forms, people who were once complete strangers became my closest friends. Bonding through tragedy. I wasn't as alone as I thought. I learned piano and guitar, a bit of violin. Putting effort into learning new instruments and finding songs I could relate to was a great distraction for how I felt inside. Art was wonderful, the feeling of being able to shape something to mirror myfeelings and let them out. Painting and sketching, pastels, oils and charcoal, the heavy weight of clay as I molded it in my hands and the haze of colour when I let watercolour paints rush over a canvas.
Writing was another important outlet, perhaps the most important of all my other ones. When I sit down and let the words flow through me onto paper, I feet truly at peace no matter how my life is going. I was, and still am, so passionate about my writing. Ive never been good at talking, so I like to think of the pencil and paper as my 'wooden tongues'. peotry, novellas and short stories, speeches and articles and journaling, writing played a huge part in helping me cope with my illness and everything that was going on inside my head. And with writing came opening up, letting myself talk about me and how I started overcoming my struggles.
I'm not cured, not even close. And I still have my bad days, my numb days, days where I sit in the dark with no words to say and no strength to press on the piano keys. I still have days where I feel sad, like Im stuck and going nowhere, like I should just stop trying. But honestly, in the past 5 years I have found more reasons to keep trying than there are stars in the sky, or grains of sand on the ocean floor. I support, and have support. People like you, like me; we are not alone, as lonely as me must feel sometimes. I know it gets hard sometimes. I know what its like to want to give up. I know. And its okay. Its okay to have bad days or to want to give up. Its okay to not be okay. What matters is that we pick up where we are, focus on the good things and positivity, and keep going. Its tough, but possible. We can do anything. Because we don't just want to survive. We want to live.