Thursday, August 25, 2016

open book

WARNING: I recently went MIA on Facebook and IG. For those of you that noticed, I love you and I AM BACK! For those of you that didn't notice, I love you the same :)
The following post was a rough one for me to write. Read at your own discretion.

Did you know that 80% of individuals suffer from depression and don't receive treatment? Did you know that 1/2 (40%) of those individuals don't ask for help or get treatment because they feel that depression is Taboo?

I was one of those 40%. And I am here to tell you my story and take a stand against depression.

When I was in 5th grade, my hamster died. I was depressed.

When I was in 10th grade, my family moved to a new house. I was depressed.

When I was a senior in highschool, I broke my back. I was depressed.

To me, depression has always equaled sadness, crying, and being scared.

It was something that you feel when you experience something sad.

It is something you deal with when you go through a scary experience.

It might have even been something that someone calls you when you aren't acting like your happy "normal" self.

 But other than that, I have never given depression much thought.

All of that changed as of this summer.

Now, I can see that depression is REAL.

Depression is scary.

Depression is serious and something you shouldn't ignore. 

I know this now because I've experienced it first hand.

You see, you don't have to have someone die to be depressed.
You don't have to have a scary experience.
You don't even have to have a reason.

Just like a common cold, Depression can hit anyone, anytime, for no reason at all.

That is what happened to me, and here is my experience:

I have always been a very anxious person. At a very young age, I started biting my nails and cheeks. Little things cause me big stress and the anxiety I feel over simple situations is crazy. In 7th grade, I went through a terrible phase of 'missing my mom.' I couldn't go to school without crying. I couldn't let my mom leave for work at 4:30am without getting out of bed and hugging her and telling her not to die. I spent most of my time fearing my family would get hurt or be involved in accidents. I felt completely miserable and sad. But my naive mind didn't think much of it. My mom began to notice the change and got me an appointment with the school counselor. Long story short, he didn't seem to think anything was wrong (I wasn't very open/honest with him) and he told my mom I was a completely healthy, normal 7th grader.

Fast forward to my senior year. I broke my back in a trampoline accident. After a few weeks of being bedridden I began to suffer from the same feelings of sadness that I remember experiencing in 7th grade. I missed my mom anytime she left. I imagined my family dying. I felt sad and spent most of my time crying. After continual use of Percocet, I soon realized the 'happiness' that the little white pills brought me. I slowly began to realize that no matter how I felt, taking a Percocet made everything better. It wasn't long before I was taking the pills for pain that wasn't caused by the broken bones in my back. Again, long story short, I was able to stop taking the pills after having an addiction to them and taking them for the wrong reasons .

So here we are. Present time.

Over the last six months or so, I've had some struggles. I know people with cancer. I know people that have lost loved ones. People going through divorces. There are people out there with bigger issues than me....

Yet, here I am. Almost 25, with a great job, a wonderful family, amazing friends. Sad and feeling as hopeless as ever.

Image result for hyperbole and a half depression
To start with, I am a very self conscious person. One of my biggest struggles has been how I view myself and how much hate I have towards myself.

I'm not skinny enough.
 I have ugly natural hair.
The face of a boy.
I have bad eyebrows.
My stomach is flabby.
I have dry skin.
I pick my fingers until they're bloody.
I hate my teeth.
I'm too emotional.

These are the thoughts that fill my mind daily. But you know what's even worse than these thoughts?
My solutions.

Not skinny? Eat less.
ugly hair? Dye it.
The face of a boy? Cover it with makeup.
Bad eye brows? No solution-look ugly.
Flabby stomach? Don't eat.
Bloody fingers? Stress about them, pick them more.
Bad teeth? Don't smile.
Too emotional? Stay quiet.

The hate I had for myself began to fester. I started thinking I would be happier if I looked better. I started skipping meals, weighing myself constantly, exercising non stop. My sisters would mention my eating habits and I would get mad and deny it.

I don't know about you, but for me- the way and things I feel about myself, have a HUGE impact on my day to day life. The vicious cycle of self hate that I find myself in on a daily basis has really been affecting me. I wasn't sleeping well, and because I was no longer eating well, my body was suffering.

I talked with my doctor and told him about being sad. He prescribed me an anti depressant. 


Aside from my doctor, I kept how I was feeling to myself. I didn't need to tell anyone. I didn't want my family to be concerned. I kept how I was feeling from the people I loved because I didn't want them to see me broken. I convinced myself I was fine. This was temporary. I willed myself to be happy, to find hope and light in the small things.

Even though it wasn't working, I stuck to my plan of being silent. I didn't need anyone's concern. And If you haven't noticed by now, my solutions and plan of action sucked. Temporary solutions were obviously not the answer. I needed something permanent.

I continued on the vicious path of hating myself and being miserable. What I though was just mild "depression" about my insecurities, turned into big black hole that slowly felt like it had taken over. Life lost its meaning and  soon I had no desire to do anything. Not only was I feeling sad.. but I felt NOTHING and at the same time I felt
I didn't want to be around anyone, yet I didn't want to be alone.
I was so tired of crying, yet I cried about everything.
I realized I had slowly hit rock bottom, I felt as low as I thought I could.

That was when I realized that things could ONLY go up from where I was... Right?
Until I determined that rock bottom has a basement.

I won't go into detail of the course of the week that followed.. or my thought process, but after a bit of contemplating and major thinking, I realized that maybe life would be better if I no longer lived. I found myself thinking these thoughts on an hourly basis. I started imagining, and planning. I didn't think of the consequences, the future. All I could focus on was how much I hated my self and how much I hated life.

After some time, someone made a statement along the lines of "You know Shay, I just can't help but notice that the light is gone. The happiness and sparkle you used to have in your eyes isn't there." I was hit with a wave of reality and the small bit of rationality I had inside of me spoke up! I started thinking about my family, friends and others that my choices would effect. I finally opened up about how I was feeling to my mom and one of my good friends (and scared the crap out of them in the process) and it was determined that I should probably get professional help.

I was hesitant to talk to someone. I didn't want to be "one of those" girls.

Besides, It took every thing in me to finally mention something to my mom and my best friend that I tell everything to. So how was I supposed to talk with a complete stranger? After a while of contemplating, I decided things weren't going to get better for me unless I chose to make a change. I've started talking to someone. Through this whole ordeal, I've met many women, young and old- that are dealing with issues just like me. Some of them deal with more than I am. But most importantly, they're struggling along with me. I am not alone! I am seeing the light. Do I still have bad days? Yes. Does life feel hopeless still? Sometimes. Do I still think bad thoughts about myself and hate things about me? Of course! But I am working on those things and I will for as long as I need to.
Now for the purpose of this post:

Although I am still on this ugly journey, I have learned quite a bit and continue to do so.


I have learned that depression isn't always crying and playing sad songs.

Sometimes its not wanting to talk to anyone for days and other times its desperately needing to talk to someone and be around people.

Sometimes depression is having no appetite, even though you haven't eaten since yesterday.

Its the frustrating feeling of wanting to snap out of it and desperately wanting to enjoy something.

Its knowing that "ill be ok', but still feeling awful.

Its knowing that people love me , but feeling like they don't.

Its waking up in the morning, and only looking forward to going back to bed.

Its fearing that others will eventually see me, the way I see myself.

Its being sad, and not having a reason. Not being able to explain why.

Depression is exhausting.

But MOST OF ALL, depression isn't something I have had to deal with alone.

Depression can and does get better.

It doesn't have to control my life.

Its not something I suffer from, its something I HAVE.

I have depression, I will always have depression, but I will not always be depressed.

I have learned that only I have the power to fix my broken pieces.

I have learned that I have an amazing support system of friends and family that will be there for me not matter what.

I have learned that I have to be willing to change what I can change and accept what I can't change.

I have learned to stop putting my happiness and my worth into other people's hands.

I have learned to stop making it other people responsibility to make me love myself.

I have learned that it is okay to cry. to be sad. to break down and even to lose it. AND at the same time I am learning to 'fake it til' I make it'

I have learned that it is okay to mess up.

I am learning how to eat healthy and to eat 3 meals a day.

I have also learned that it is important to get up, dress up, and show up.

I have learned that the 'monster inside of me' that we label as depression, doesn't get to be in control of me any longer! 

I am learning to COPE.

I am learning to be happy.

I have a network of people that have helped me and continue to help me on this crazy journey. Form my amazing family that was concerned enough to help me help myself, to my awesome best friend who offers me advice (and tough love when I need it most) who I can text on a non stop basis, to my therapist that talks me through all of my thought processes.

I am learning to love myself.
I am learning to step outside of myself and serve others.
That life is good.
God is great.

I am learning A LOT about myself. And to me, that's worth it.




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