During my first semester of senior year in High School, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and social anxiety disorder. Prior to this, I suffered almost constantly with suicidal thoughts and general displeasures towards everyday life. I bottled up almost everything that went around in my psyche, keeping myself far away from any little bit of help that was near by because of my stubbornness or fear of being judged for being a “freak” or be labeled as a “faker” or have people tell me “just because you’re sad on some occasions, doesn’t mean you’re depressed”. Junior year, I tortured myself every single day without seeking the help I needed but never seemed to come to terms with. In classes, teachers would see me visibly show sadness because it was so difficult at times to keep my facade of happiness present and they would ignore me because that grew beyond what their job descriptions intended.
The following summer after Junior year, I was able to convince my parents to admit me to a therapist. Fresh air, keeping myself busy, work, nothing really worked to the extent that I had hoped for — seeing a therapist was my last option once everything else failed. 2 weeks before senior year started, I had my first session. I can recall so vividly the walk from my car into the building and up the grey marbled staircase on College Parkway to the brown wooded door to the secretary that I felt was judging me so hard on the inside for caving and seeking help from a professional. I waited what felt like hours (it was 5 minutes) to be called back. For the next 2 hours, I poured my heart out to this therapist about my life story and everything that led to me sitting on his smooth red chair in his office. I left his office composed, but once I got into my car, I lost control of my emotions and it finally dawned on me: I was not ok.
It wasn’t until my 3rd session that my therapist finally diagnosed me with clinical depression and social anxiety disorder. He recommended I go see a physician to be prescribed medication for my disorders. I asked what would happen if I refused and he told me I would be institutionalized for my own safety.
A word that has never struck so much fear in me before. Me, Mister Perfect to everyone, institutionalized so I would not do anything irrational. I begged him that I did not need either. I told him pills would be an easy way out and I juxtaposed being institutionalized to a “scare-them-straight-camp” because being forced to be around people like you trying to “cure” you would only lead to even more problems. Finally, he agreed that if I had not shown any real progress by our next session, something would have to be done.
Come next session, I was doing better. I showed real signs of progress and my depression felt like it was going away for good. My social anxiety disorder however was still present but our main concern was the depression. A few sessions later, and I was able to stop my visits. For the first time since the end of sophomore year, I felt like myself.
Fast forward now to July of 2017. Summer was winding down and school was starting soon. I wanted to have one last hooray before everyone had to leave and go back to school, so I had a little fun.
Quick lesson: alcohol can lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which help regulate mood. Lower levels of these chemicals can make a depressed person more depressed. Alcohol can also cut off the effects of stress hormones which subsequently can exaggerate depression symptoms because it depresses the nervous system.
So, that night, I had a little more fun than I previously thought. I woke up the next morning not feeling myself — everything felt like it was moving in slow motion and the following days, that feeling had yet to go away. More and more I could physically feel my mood swing from happy to sad in an instant. These mood swings would last for weeks on end. I never wanted to admit anything but I knew deep down something was wrong with me again. All together, I stopped going out and my routine consisted of getting up, school, come home and sleep. I was never energetic or eager to create or film or take photos. I tried everything to get my serotonin running by *literally* running again, exercising but nothing seemed to work.
I was clinically depressed again.
I was lost again. The monster I thought I defeated had reared its ugly head again with force. Ever since that night in July, my mood and depression has never been the same. I go through these stretches for days on end where I don’t walk to talk anyone, I wanted to sit alone, not interact with anyone and never wanted to leave bed. Ultimately, leaving Kansas City to go to Charlotte worsened my depression. I was away from my friend and girlfriend and everything that made me happy. I understood I was with my family and no matter how hard I tried making myself hangout with them, I just couldn’t.
Now, here I am. Still clinically depressed, still suffering from anxiety issues and never feeling like everything is right in my life. Even with your parents helping you out with everything, living with your fiance and cats, none of that can seem to “cure” this disease I have. At times I feel lost and alone. I use to always get up early and do activities, and now I just don’t want to leave my bed. I force myself up and the first though that crosses my mind is “why are you doing this? Nothing will change because you got out of bed”. I keep thinking though to that night in July.
I am 21 years old and I am too afraid to drink. I actively avoid ordering drinks at dinner or seeking different types of liquor or rum or vodka because it terrifies me. Whenever I am presented with a drink, I am too nice to reject it so I take it but never finish the drink. These substances are the reason why I have relapsed back into this self deprecating state and I am afraid to keep supplying my body with the liquid negativity. I wake up every morning afraid for what I will do, what I will say and so on. I use to find happiness in the smallest of things but now everything seems like unnecessary background noise — background noise that you would hear in a bathroom at a bar.
My depression and anxiety has already taken so much from me. I’m almost petrified to talk to anyone because the thought of them judging me based off my appearance and my speech impediment renders me useless in making friends. Every time class ends, I bolt out of there and proceed to my car just to get to my bed. I sit in the back because my anxiety tugs me away from making friends and or sustaining friendships. I feel like I am almost a burden on it all. Depression works differently for everyone, and for me, it’s almost a curse that I have to wear around like a badge of dishonor on my lapel.
One thing all of this has taught me is to keep a good face. Fake it til ya make it. I can easily seem cheery and happy and smiley but on the inside I am dying — my mind/body/soul is being tormented by this spirit. I haven’t had a suicidal thought or tendencies but what kills me is knowing that can come at any day-any day I can wake up and remember those thoughts and then have them stick with me until I can’t do anything about them anymore.
What keeps me going is the pre conceived notion of having my fiance next to me and my family so close by. I haven’t told anyone this, but one of the main reasons why I wanted to move closer to my immediate family is because I feel safe by them-they keep me at bay and check up on my well being, making sure I am happy.
Well, Kirk, Lexie, Mom and Dad — the fact of the matter is that I am not the happiest of campers right now. I truly do feel sad on a daily basis and it is tough for me to admit this even after doing it the first time around. Your love is felt throughout my body but it never sticks with me. That is no ones fault except mine.
One last thing-social media is my drug. It is like my heroin, cocaine, weed or whatever. I fully realize how detrimental it can be to my mental health but I cannot get enough of it. Seeing my new classmates hangout with each other, filming great experimental pieces of work is inspiring but it hurts me knowing that I am being held back by this anxiety/depression combo. I post to instagram pieces of my work that I am proud of because, like everyone else, I seek validation. I seek acclaim thinking that will bring me a few ounces of happiness. It is terrifying to even send a text to a group chat or sit by people. I don’t want this to sound like a cry for help or for anyone to feel pity on me. Truth is, that won’t work and I will reject regardless if that is my depression or my self talking.
Depression is one hell of a thing. It truly is a wonder and it fascinates me how it works. I do consider it a burden on my everyday life but I have come to accept my fate-this is an incurable disease, one that I will have to live with the rest of my life due to the mistakes I made to preserve my happiness along the way.
I live today as a person fully aware of what I have. I realize the threats depression and anxiety can have on me but I will not let it defeat me. I know I have a strong will and I will never let it get the best of me. The bad days are dreadful-truly and extraordinarily awful. But I can make it through those shit days and make the happy ones some of the best days of my life.
I don’t want this to be a cry for help or, as I stated earlier, a validating “thing” that makes me feel happy. People may not believe you, you may be an outcast and even feel like one, you may feel like the whole world is falling down on you. You’re afraid of a leaf falling from a tree in October because you believe it is the end of the world when truly, it is just a cycle.
Will I wake up one day depression free and my anxiety be gone for good? Who knows. But as long as I’m Chandler fucking Bado, I think I’ll be fine.