Taking Your Identity

It was in the way the birds flew south for winter, flapping their wings and escaping winter’s icy coldness, the way that students got summer vacations, fleeing from tests, bullies, teachers, and book reports, it was in the way your dad left, not even saying he would come back to see you, just leaving you alone, that you knew it was easier. Easy to leave, to get away from the dreaded reality that was your everyday life. You knew you had the power to leave, that you didn’t have to deal with your family, jobs, or the memories that haunted you whether you chose to close your eyes or keep them open, you wanted to deal with it, but not through the trauma.

You were a child that dreamt of adolescence being the happiest time of your life. But it proved to not only be the joyous start of life, but was almost the end too. You used to imagine yourself happier in a world where sadness and mental illness were just words, but when you’re that young, depression doesn’t really exist yet for you. Sure, you’d get a little sad when something didn’t go your way, but depression was a foreign concept.

As you went into 10th grade, you were used to thinking, “Am I actually sick?” you’d only ever seen depression as a lonely girl who had separated herself from the others. You’d think that the only people who “truly” have depression are the ones where you can physically see it. You never see the kids that seem to “have it all” have a mental illness, but it’s those who you are most wrong about. You often found yourself confused as you had no idea what was wrong with yourself, or if you were just simply imagining if something was wrong with you. No one knew how you felt, surely you were just feeling what everyone else was feeling… right?

At the beginning of 11th grade, you returned back to high school with mental bruises, and a seemingly sporadic attendance record due to impulsive decisions to not attend class because of the overbearing pain of depression making you unable for you to get out of bed in the morning and to concentrate on a single piece on homework. The person you blame is yourself but, it wasn’t you that caused this depression. It was the abuse from your father, and the nameless people that you wish you could forget. You wish you could forget the images in your head that keep racing through your head of your father dragging you by your hair or continuously screaming at you. The trauma that is engraved in your brain that never seems to go away.

The thing with depression is that it changes who you are as a person, making you rationalize things you had never dreamed of doing previously. You had never dreamed that at fifteen you would attempt to end your own life, or that you would ever engage in any self-destructive behavior.

Your depression had taken you from not thinking anything was actually wrong with you, to knowing the absolute ins and outs of the disease and its symptoms. However, you did everything from in-patient therapy, out-patient therapy, several individual therapies, dialectical behavior therapy, went to a physiatrist, a sleep study, school tutors, equine therapy, and still you sat it school unable to concentrate. You were so emotionally drained that you could barely speak right making you feel “mentally retarded.” You got constant glares of judgment and all you could do was keep yourself from not breaking down because then they would see you as weak.

You thought that people like people because of their personality, their willingness to grow and love, their character or a good sense of humor. You believed that having “problems” would make you less “likeable”, or that because people knew you had mental illness problems they would reject you. The sad thing is, you used to care if people liked you, you used to care if they thought you were weird or any less of a human being because of your issues…

It took you years to accept what you were feeling, and it took you a few more to engage in conversation about it. You were so desperate to be happy again, even though the weight of depression was a heavier load than you could carry you still tried to “manage” depression.

 

Your depression came in waves, taking more and more of your identity with it each time.

 

“You have clinical depression,” is an overwhelming sentence to hear. The day you heard that sentence your life changed. You had to visit a doctor but one that only focused on the pain in your mind and not body. You had to shove pills down your throat in hope that they’ll give you some sort of relief. It turns out it takes time for that to happen, and it feels as though now that everyday is a constant battle.

Depression almost killed you. It almost won and you were almost gone. Depression doesn’t happen overnight. It builds up until there is nothing left in you. It takes your fight then it tries to take you. You don’t know what kept you going but you kept going. You decided to live and you decided to love yourself. You gained weight to where you were healthy again, your hair stopped falling out, and you started to smile and mean it. You’d still struggle with sadness but didn’t feel that weight you had been harboring since. You went to counseling and finally opened up and even though you have tried endless amounts of different medications you have this new found hope. Yes, help actually works but you have to be the one that wants to get better.

If there was a problem, you would fix it; not struggle in it and watch yourself fall further than rock bottom. It was as if someone else had taken control of your body, you were immune to sadness, but it was just another dreaded day.

You may still have those days in school were it’s hard but you take a deep breath and you know that it’s going to be okay. You don’t feel as alone anymore. All because you decided to try. After almost breaking the hearts of everyone you know, you decided to try.