Depression & The Faces That Hide It
Depression is more than just feeling like shit. It's more than crying yourself to sleep every night. People who have never experienced depression, or failed to educate themselves about it, tend to label it as an emotional problem. Don't get me wrong; depression can be every emotion, and all at once. But here's the thing: those dark, terrifying emotions can creep into your mind too. If you give it the power, it'll bury you mentally because those thoughts become more—they become consuming. Before you know it, you don't just think you're worthless—you believe you're worthless. With that belief, you put on a nice outfit. You put on makeup and do your hair. You walk into a crowded place and you wear a smile. You do this because if you don't, then everyone else will know. Someone is going to point their finger right at you and say, "Your worthlessness is showing." This fear doesn't stop. It's constant. It's every night when you fall asleep and every morning when you wake up. Doesn't matter where you are, who you're with, or what you're doing—it's there to remind you of how you don't belong. These people don't really like you. The words you say don't make any sense. Nothing you do is important. You're NOT important.
This is depression.
Now, I know that high school wasn't smooth sailing for everyone. We were all teenagers once, so we didn't know anything, did we? Some students wanted good grades, some didn't care. Some students played sports, some preferred the art programs. Some students were well-liked, some didn't have many friends. What I'm trying to say is that we were all different in high school. What we know now would've been nice to know at 16 years old.
There were a lot of things I knew in high school. I knew that I hated math, but I loved literature. I knew that I didn't have many friends. I knew that I wasn't popular. I knew that my high school boyfriend was tired of me. I knew that people talked about me. I knew that I was being teased because of my poor hearing. I knew that if I tried too hard to be pretty or funny or interesting, someone would know that I was hiding something. Someone would tell the entire school that I was a fake. They'd laugh in my face, look me dead in the eyes, and tell me how many times I had considered suicide (6 times). They'd tell me how many times I came close to going through with it (1 time). Then they'd tell me about the time I tried but only ended up dehydrated and taken to the ER in an ambulance.
The hardest part now is realizing they never knew. These people didn't know what was going on in my head, day in and day out. No one was to blame, not even myself.
After High School
After high school, I broke all ties with my ex-boyfriend and spent most of my time with one friend. She and I hit it off in my senior year. After working together on the yearbook staff, we became inseparable. I finally learned what a true friend was and it seriously changed my life. She, besides my family, really taught me how to be happy despite it all. Even if I was the only one against me, she showed me that I wasn't alone in this.
No matter how much better you think you are, it doesn't mean that your depression is cured. It just means that you've found a way to temporarily distract yourself from the dark. This never lasts because you can't defeat depression. You learn to live with it by reminding yourself that this darkness isn't real. I am worthy. I am important. You have to keep telling yourself this every day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Whatever your mindset is when you wake up, you just deal.
After A Major Heartbreak
Before my mother and I moved from my hometown, I had my heart crushed into a million pieces. There were other relationships before this one, but this particular one was different. We were happy together. No fighting. No harsh words. No secrets. No nothing, and it absolutely terrified me. As the saying goes, "Too good to be true." In a sense, I always knew it was because I believed I wasn't good enough to be loved. In the back of my mind, this was just a fling. I believed this SO much throughout our time together, that it ended just as I predicted. I proved myself right, for once, and it fucking hurt like hell.
It hurt like hell for years after, and I'm not ashamed to say how long it took me to heal. In all the relationships we create, we either invest ourselves halfheartedly or we dive—heart first—all the way in. How we treat those relationships has a lot to do with how we treat ourselves internally. I never loved myself. I didn't know I had to in order to have a healthy relationship. Shit, I didn't come to that realization until I stopped bullying myself. It was time to make a change.
So I did. I started college online, got a job, and began to make more of an effort to meet new people. That's when my cousin and I started hanging out more. We became close too, which is exactly what I needed to escape my mind. I soon began dating on and off, but nothing serious ever came of it. Despite the numerous bad dates or the 'you're okay, but I'm not calling you back' scenarios, I felt better about myself. I was finally getting to a place of happiness and self-accomplishment.
After I Met Josh
Now, I know that we all hope for a happy ending. We dream of meeting that special someone, settling down, getting married, buying a house, having children, etc. It doesn't matter the order that all this is in. The relationship has to be solid through thick and thin. As I expressed in previous articles, Josh and I met on an online dating site. I had been on this site for a year until we exchanged messages. We instantly connected, shared so much in common, and altogether we just fell in love.
As much as I'd love to say that Josh took my depression away, I can't. We are very happy together; we are an invincible team. My depression was never as bad as it used to be. But I had my days where I was lost in my head. These gloomy days would come in waves, set me back for a few days, but then I'd pull through. Josh has been an absolute rock for me and I've learned to tell him everything. No matter what I'm thinking or how I feel, he gets me back on track.
After Having Tristan
My pregnancy had it's ups and downs. I was in and out of mood swings, it was ridiculous. But I knew that this was normal and that it wasn't my depression ruining everything. After Tristan was born, I wasn't so fine. My moods were off. I was sad all the time. Those 6 weeks after having Tristan were emotionally awful. I never felt like I could do anything right, for him or for my family. He'd be screaming in his crib, fighting a nap. I'd be in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out. Breastfeeding was a nightmare. I couldn't produce like I had expected. My vagina was different. My whole damn body was different! Nothing felt like ME.
I realized, after 6 weeks had passed, that I was suffering from postpartum depression. It never dawned on me that it was from a hormonal imbalance. I just thought I was depressed, like all the other times in my life. In the end, I found comfort in knowing that many women go through this after bearing children.
Today, I still have dark days. They're not as extreme or too difficult to deal. But there is still a voice in the back of my mind and sometimes I can hear it trying to bring me down. I'm still learning to love myself. I think we all are still figuring that out in some way.
So, no. Depression is not just a feeling of gloom. It's not what we can physically see. It's a lifetime of tearing yourself apart and fighting like hell to put yourself back together again.
© 2017 IoneLynne