When I think of my depression I have a loss of words for the way it affects me, some things in life are felt so deeply, you simply cant articulate it. Depression isn't just sad, or lonely. For me, it's vast and consuming. When I picture my depression in my head I see myself as a young woman pressed against the glass window in my bedroom, at my parents house. I liked the coldness of the glass on my face while I tried to work through my pain. It might sound cliché, but I found solace in my depression when I felt my cheek against the cold window because I felt less numb. I hate that I call my solace cliché, but I feel that we have these preconceived notions of what depression looks like. A girl crying by a window. Cliché? Maybe. But it is my truth. Our society paints pictures of mental illness a lot. When I began describing what depression looked like to me, maybe some of you began to visualize yourself. I am writing about my experience with my mental health, because maybe someone needs to hear it. I know as a young woman how alone I felt. I had several people tell me I was too young, and supported to be depressed. I was clinically diagnosed when I was 13. Those people who told me I was too young to be depressed were probably relying too heavily on that picture in their head of what depression looks like. Society doesn't promote depression as your mother, child, student, brother, or friend, it is shown in the face of a sad stranger. It's easier to disconnect when the person you love doesn't fit the stigma. I am funny and outgoing, which doesn't fall in line with the idea that people who suffer from depression are quite and distant all the time. Some people with depression may be quite and distant, and that is understandable. We don't have to compare our pain, it is all still valid. I'm not a mental health specialist, but I can tell you from personal experience how damaging it is when someone doesn't validate what you are going through. I know the people who told me I was too young for depression were not malicious, in fact I think they loved me very much. They simply couldn't fathom someone who appeared healthy to be in so much pain. However, that didn't stop my suffering, it closeted it. I didn't talk about my depression. I had supportive people in my life who encouraged me to, but I felt that would make me weak. If I can make anything clear to someone who is struggling, it is this; mental health issues do not dictate your worth, it does not make you weak, and there is no shame in getting help. I have started counseling because I know I deserve to be healthy. I feel no shame in sharing with people how much therapy has changed my life. I wouldn't have been able to move forward with out help. I feel empowered that I have taken steps to help me overcome my depression. It's a work in progress. Another issue with depression that deserves to be talked about is shaming others. I have been on medication, tried yoga, drank more water, worked hard in therapy, and practiced mindfulness. They have all helped me. I don't think it's my place to tell someone else what they are doing wrong when it comes to their journey. As I said earlier, I'm not a mental health specialist. I think people need to remind themselves of that before they shame someone with a mental health issue for following through with their doctors suggestions. I have had many people tell me my medication is bad for me, and that if I would try getting off of it I might feel better. They don't know what a night and day difference it makes for me. I have been off of my medication, and its messy and destructive, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I am a healthier, more productive person when I take care of myself by taking my medication. I struggled with those peoples opinions on my meds for a long time. I felt like they thought I wasn't trying to be healthy, that I was being reliant on a drug. That is nothing more than that ugly stigma of depression. It's easy to pass judgment, I am guilty of it. I have wondered why people with depression let it get so bad, in hindsight, I don't believe they did. I think it happens progressively, they may not have had the tools to get help. If you're reading this, and wondering how it has gotten so bad, I encourage you to reach out. There is always help. I don't think there is beauty in the pain we suffer, depression is ugly, but I think its remarkable that we are able to heal.
"Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyways."-Mother Teresa
Libby Anne Groseclose