Every chapter of my life has a beginning and an end, or a cycle of darkness and normalcy. Living with depression shades everything into a grey, and each season has its moments that are foggy, hard to remember, and lacking their usual luster.
The first time I could honestly say I was battling clinical depression was 12th grade, though before this I had a few summers where I spent the majority of the season in bed. For me summer was always the toughest season because I had no routine or schedule. The first time I met with the doctor he settled on the diagnosis of major depression. In the years to come new diagnoses would be added on. Panic disorder with agoraphobia for the year I spent inside my room too anxious to even leave to go to the bathroom. Social anxiety disorder when I was unable to enter a classroom full of people or talk on the phone. Borderline personality disorder for every moment that I had a suicidal thought or exhibited those behaviours, and finally the latest diagnosis of psychosis, for the voices I thought I was hearing through mind reading, and the wild delusions I was having about my family, friends and the future.
Getting through life has been tough, I'm usually unable to finish what I start and find myself hiding under the covers comfortably inside my room. This past year I finally managed to secure a psychiatrist and a family doctor which are hard to come by, but with only some of my symptoms at bay it's been hard to stay on track. Having psychosis brought a new level of shame into my life that I did not think I could bounce back from. Every day I am bombarded by voices, generally of people I know, conversing to me, about me and at me. Hallucinations and delusions are my "elephant in the room". At my lowest point I found myself conversing aloud to my voices, planning secret meetings with my hallucinations, believing I could predict the future. My self-esteem barely intact, I have begun to reestablish who I am as a person and have redefined what makes a person valuable. Having a mental illness has taught me a great life lesson about the worth of each of us, and how we are all made unique. I learned the importance of community and authenticity. My church family and my real family have been the foundation that holds the walls of my life together. By being open with them I am beginning to see the goodness in hard circumstances. For every time I think of ending my life there's a reason not to, something keeping me here, a sliver of sunshine in the clouds. If I could give advice to the younger version of myself I would tell her not to harm herself, that scars last forever and that momentary pain does not need a permanent solution; life will become more tolerable, learn to be mindful and take each day at a time. Counselling offers great tools for anyone to have, depressed or not it's great to train your brain to think differently. My message to someone going through a similar challenge is to not be afraid to ask for help and tell your story. Today I am taking the lies I believe about myself and converting them to truths. I am a fighter, I will prevail, and mental illness is something I have, not something I am.