Ask Me How I Really Feel

Everything I Know About Depression

I called my mom last week and declared with a solemn tone “I’m worried.” I’d been oversleeping for weeks, not able to get back on regular sleep cycles. I would lay in bed for two thirds of the day. My whole body felt sore all the time; like the morning after a late night when it feels like a bus hit you. It was as if someone was taking a syringe and regularly sucking out all my blood. Waves of weakness and exhaustion would hit me repeatedly throughout the day. I felt emotional all the time. I would burst into tears at the slightest trigger. Happy things, funny things, sad things. Everything made me cry. I was binge eating garbage food. All I wanted to do was stream thoughtless shows and shove mounds of processed carbs into my face.

At first I thought I might be sick, so I took it easy, allowing my body time to heal. But the more I slept, the worse I felt. I racked my brain for explanations. Pregnancy? Disease? The earliest case of menopause in history? A month passed. And then another month. Several times I resolved to snap out of it. I would set my alarm early the next day or schedule gym time. But I was just so fucking tired. And emotional. And hungry. I couldn’t shake it. I was scared.

I was diagnosed with major depression as an early teen. The Mayo Clinic defines this as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and inhibits your daily activities. Symptoms include constant tiredness and lack of energy, anxiety and restlessness, trouble concentrating and making decisions and physical problems such as headaches. Causes involve biological makeup, inherited traits, brain chemicals, hormones and life events. It’s a bitch of a disorder, you guys.

I don’t buy into handicaps. The thing is, everyone’s got one. It’s likely that you have several. Depression, addiction, mania, attention deficiency, disease. Social anxiety, trauma, insecurity, abuse. We’ve all experienced one or more of these hurdles at some point.

I might be predisposed or conditioned to a certain type of behavior. I may be biologically made up a certain way. This doesn’t mean I have to accept a certain fate. You know what depression means to me? It means I have to work that much fucking harder than a person without depression to be happy. Challenge accepted.

I don’t like to label myself in this way because it’s not my story anymore. I don’t talk about myself as “depressive” or introduce myself this way when I shake someone’s hand. Some of my best friends and closest family members have no idea I had a dark adolescence or a troublesome early adulthood. If you ask me about my past I’ll tell you everything. But it’s not the story I associate with today, because it doesn’t serve me.

For the first time in my life, I’m wildly happy. Obnoxiously happy. I wake up excited about things. I smile at people. My heart flutters all the time. I have an audible laugh for the first time ever. I’m big time happy.

But –

The past couple months have been a reminder that happy is a daily effort. You can’t half ass happy. Happy is only permanent if you bust your buns each and every single day to write that story for yourself.

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