This is a content notice for this post. There will be lots of talk about depression and self-harm. If you are having suicidal (or self-harming!) thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “Go” to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line
If you’re still open to reading this, keep going after this hilarious renaming of animals. I’m particularly fond of the Majestic Sea Flap Flap.
I started doing theater in the second grade. From there, I moved to a solo career, singing at a talent show that brought people to their feet. Then choir, where solos came my way quite a lot. I was in the Pajama Game, Cats, Les Miserable, Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My list of shows got so long that I had to edit them to fit on my resume attached to an 8.5×11″ headshot. After performing, I went on to working retail, really buffering my public speaking, improvisation, and acting skills. Trust me, half of your retail workers who smile cheerily at you every time you see them are simply really good actors. After that, I moved to public speaking.
I’ve already talked about how I’m good at hiding that I’m sick. I just don’t think you understand how good some of us are. I’ve already talked about my addiction to self-harm. It doesn’t go away. There is a mistake in our understanding of mental health though. I imagine there are many mistakes, but this mistake in particular is one that I’ve been struggling with for years. People with depression can experience happiness, can experience joy, but often only for fleeting moments.
My depression has some dark, dark days. These are the days when I don’t shower for a week. I lay in bed so long my muscles ache from lack of movement. My room is a mess, trash everywhere, discarded takeout boxes lining the floor and the trash bins, clothes falling out of the hamper. From my bed I look around the room and see the mess, only to cry and roll back into my blankets, and another few hours of sleep. I’ve made plans, and thought of the best way to kill myself. I’m a burden on everyone I love and no one should live this way. I’ve lost days this way, weeks sometimes. Lost in a haze of misery and downward spiraled thinking. Sometimes this ends in a short breakthrough. Sometimes it ends in self-harm.
When I haven’t cancelled plans, I’ve forced myself through them, only to leave early and return back to my nest. If people knew I was depressed, they certainly didn’t say so. Maybe I’m just a good actress, or maybe they just felt like I was in a bad mood. Eventually, people stop inviting you to things when you don’t go.
The depressive days, the dark days, those aren’t the worst. The worst days are the good ones. The days when I almost feel happy. The days when I feel like maybe things aren’t going to end terribly. The days when I smile, and truly mean it, not just an act. Those. Those are the worst.
Those are the days when I spend my time trying desperately to make it last. Wanting this to be the time when there’s a breakthrough and I’ve conquered my depression and anxiety. The days that I get to experience all manner of happiness and love and excitement. Those are the worst because they’re a glimmer of hope, and I wait like an addict for my next fix of happiness, my next fix of felling like a normal person.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me.
You may have wondered where I’ve been for the past couple months. I’ve been pretty quiet, pretty out of it. Not a lot of posting going on. I would say that I’m sorry, but I’m not. You see, Sometime in September I had a terrible breakdown. My anxiety was too much to handle.
Sure, I laughed and had good times with people, but all I can remember before October is dreading getting out of bed everyday. The sheer misery of having to be a functional human being. Going to work made me so anxious I would vomit. I would wake up screaming and sweating with night terrors. I was vaguely suicidal nearly every single day.
I felt like I was screaming for help and no one could hear me.
Luckily, I had a godsend. My housemate B suggested I go through a partial hospitalization program through Inova (a hospital system near me). I will not lie when I say that the PHP absolutely saved my life. They taught a combination of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). I was able to get my medication sorted, get properly diagnosed (Bipolar II and Borderline Disorder), and learn a number of new things to apply to my life to keep me safe and manage my mental health. There are still bad days, and it’s a process, but my room has been clean for over 2 weeks, and I’ve gone to the gym once a day for the past week. I’d say I’m doing pretty okay.
One of the best things I’ve learned is that every single day is a victory. Every time you take a shower, make your bed, eat something, you have taken another step in taking care of yourself. I am lucky to finally understand that.
So, as much as I love you all, I needed to take some time off for me. Now I’m back, and I’m better and healthier than ever. Thank you for your patience, your love, and your support.