An Update

Two weeks ago, I received a message from one of my friends, it read:

“I’m so sorry Ash!!! I knew you had depression because you mentioned it before, but I just thought you ‘beat it,’ even though I know you can’t ever really beat it.”

His message came minutes after I had just told him, along with a few of my other friends in a group chat, I had just lost my job at H&H and my depression was back.

I wish I could say I have beaten my depression and for a while I really thought I did. I was happy. I made my disease a priority to fight. I actively sought out my therapist, constantly making appointments when some days were worst than others, while updating her through emails if I needed to. I learned new coping methods, how to properly self-love, I took hot yoga classes, bike rode to clear my head, went for occasional walks, sat and really talked to my family. I wrote down a day-to-day schedule to get myself out of my pyjamas and away from Netflix, read self-help books, learned how to make myself a priority for the first time in my life and in doing so, I said goodbye to negative people, laughed more and began enjoying life again.

I graduated from university, I was a features editor for my campus paper, I graduated university, got two incredible internships at well-known Canadian publications and I received a job from each. I got to see my beautiful niece take her first breath and recently turn one, I saw many of my friends go to different parts of Canada for jobs and internships, I saw them graduate, saw some get full-time jobs and I saw two of my best friends have a baby. But in a blink of an eye, all that happiness washed away.

Depression is like Harry Potter’s scar. It hurts and throbs from time to time, but it never fully goes away. It remains a stain on your skin, soul and spirit. Why am I depressed? Well, that’s my million dollar question. I can’t visibly see what’s wrong with me. I never know what will trigger my depression either and that is so frustrating. But for the first time in four years, I have a support system who lifts me up and actively helps me see how beautiful life is when you have people who truly love you, care for you and save you. Together, we are not letting my depression define me.

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What It’s Like Living With Depression

Living with depression is constantly like fighting a battle with yourself. Every day is hard. Life becomes a battle.

Anything can trigger it.

Things that once made you happy, don’t anymore.

You cry. All the time. You curl up in a ball at night, scream, yell, pray, try to catch your breath, even your tear-soaked pillows and sweats don’t exhaust you. You lay staring at the ceiling, hoping you could just go back to a time when you were OK. Some times you can’t even remember the reason for your tears.You cry at nothing but at the same time, everything. You cry for no reason.

You sleep. You oversleep and you are never fully rested because you wake up numerous times of night and fight with your mind to shut up.

You call in sick to work … a lot.

You stop going to school because really, what’s the point anyways?

You stay in bed all day and your pyjamas become the uniform to your misery.

Your phone rings, text messages stream in, but you stop answering and replying.

You starve yourself or you overeat, there is no in-between.

You feel like you have no one to talk to or that you are burdening the people you do talk to. So, you lie to cover up your true emotions.

You don’t want advice. You just want support.

Most people don’t understand. Some pity you. Some sympathize.

They tell you they are “sorry,” like you just lost your dog.

They say they are shocked because you are not the type to have depression or haven’t shown the obvious signs, like my mental illness is a brand new outfit with the tag still left on.

People tell you it’s a phase or it’s all in your head.

Some even tell you your depression is not an excuse for your behaviour…when in fact, it is.

Some people tell you that your illness doesn’t surmount to the death counts in third-world countries. So why are you sad? They question if you really are ill, “Are you sure it is depression?”

Yes, I’m sure. Because it is dark. It is scary. And it feels unescapable.

No, I am not an attention-seeker. In fact, I hate telling people about my illness because of the stigma society has portrayed it to be. Anyone with a mental health issue is a pariah. I am supposed to feel embarrassed and close off. But a mental health disease is just like any other disease. It affects a person just the same as an open wound would … it hurts.

You don’t get a manual from the doctor’s office on how to cope. It is random and unpredictable. You are pushed with pills and therapy sessions. Run-arounds to the pharmacy or “hospital meetings”. You seek out self-help books. Time, energy and money are spent all to get better.  You can’t run from it.

It isn’t in my head. It isn’t a faze. It’s real.

And for three years of my life, every day has been a battle. One day, I will finally win.