My Depression Is Not Taboo

I’ve never been “normal”—literally, never.  So many people have struggled with depression at one point or another for who knows what reason.  It feels uppity to claim my story is worse than any other story reported in history…but just functioning is a IMG_1581struggle for me.  Thirty-one years of sobering/stoned horror can be relived in my journals and notes from countless therapists and psychiatrists.  Time does not heal all hurt, however, and I can admit from the depths of my soul:

Depression has been the biggest struggle of my life.

For thirty-one years, my mental health has been a total lie.  My quiet “perfect” persona was completely manufactured—a handful of people have ever seen who I am with no barricades, cautionary signs, etc.

 I have been asked what thirty-one years of chronic depression feels like, and the only response that does not offend the general public is: excruciating. Existing day-to-day is almost numbing—I have learned to disassociate from my body. This is how I live.

In no way do I expect anyone (outside my medical team) to understand my physical/mental/emotional issues, but I do expect tolerance and an open dialogue when confusion surfaces.  I cannot count the number of times doctors would view my chart, see a list of antidepressants and antipsychotics, look me in the eyes and say, “but you’re so pretty.”  I’m sorry, I will come back next time my face looks jacked.

My writing about pain tends to come across as cold and factual—it is this way for a reason: I can only expose my weakness if writing from a distance because it makes others more comfortable. I will work on that.

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On Being Bullied, Injured, and Shallow

The first time I ever felt someone truly saw my soul occurred during an acting class when my teacher told me he saw a wall holding back a tremendous amount of pain…

My pursuit of “perfection” completely steered my life when I went on a die at the age of eight–because I overheard a neighbor say that children (in general) are getting chubbier and chubbier.  I was a string bean, but I have based my worth by superficial numbers most of my life.

Self-hatred over my physicality, my inability to make friends, and  being bullied during middle and high school (emotionally and physically) …completely destroyed my life.  In middle school, my group of friends from grade school killed my trust in relationships by bullying IMG_4606me in the hallway.  In high school, heavy hard-cover hymnals (weighing over 2 lbs each) were hauled at my head…eventually it became just huge bags of M&Ms.  These boys would laugh at the fact I was crying.  Eighteen-year-old young men laughed at leaving contusions on the skull of a fourteen-year-old girl who was new to the school and state. My choir teacher ignored it until my mom talked to the dean.

We moved every few years and I always grasped wildly for a life reinvented.  Maybe they saw my desperation.  I was sick through all of the bullying…panic attacks, atypical seizures, severe depression, and horrible pain throughout my body; my mother had just been diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy; most of my pets died that first year from old age…I was an easy target for pretty disgusting behavior by both these young men, my choral professor who threatened to give me detention if this kept going on, and other faculty who turned a blind eye.  I considered suicide every day from ages 11 to 16.  It’s hard to write this without turning it into a pity-party, but as much as I would LOVE to proclaim I am over being hurt, I cannot.  I am human and will carry those scars for life.

Several doctors I have seen since beginning psychiatric medications, procedures, therapies, etc. have glanced at my chart and list of meds, looked me in the eyes and said: “But you’re so pretty.”–they stabbed me in the gut: I was only worth my physical appearance.

I dreamed for so many years that, as an adult, my life would have been worth the suffering because I would have turned out well-rounded with an amazing career and giant group of loyal friends who would never hurl a 2 lb hymnal at my head.  That has not been the case (I avoid churches and hymnals, alike)…I feel bad for the anger I have allowed to affect me 16 years later; to know my life will forever be inhibited by my physical disease and haunted past; for still hating myself for having to check off the “current/past issues” with “mental illness: depression, anxiety, self-harming” box at doctors’ offices.  I hate that I don’t trust anyone.

My only consolation is that I’m the nicest person I know, I only judge myself, and my dogs love me.  My suggestion: parents should keep a watchful eye as to what is going on at school, and teachers should be trained to identify students who are possibly being bullied in the home and/or at school.