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Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, an initiative from Bell Canada
to raise awareness on mental health.
It would make sense I write something.
I’ve been living with chronic depression since childhood,
probably as early as 7 or 8 years old, but not formally diagnosed until 15
You could say I’ve lived with depression most of my life,
and that it’s a part of who I am, what makes me the person that you know as Sandy.
I don’t discuss it openly on social media, not because I don’t
want to, or because I’m ashamed of it. If someone asked me about it, I’m more than
open to discuss what I go through. I think a part of me doesn’t regularly
post about my condition is because I don’t want sympathy. The type
where people look at you differently, as if you are substandard of a human
being. I also don’t post openly when I’m suffering a relapse because most
people would have a very tough time understanding how is it that I’m in the
deepest of depression at the moment, and yet I’m telling jokes and making
others laugh? Naturally, people assume that if you’re in depression, then you
can’t function. Most importantly, I don’t post because, sometimes, I just don’t
need ignorant bullshit from people.
The problem, for someone like myself that’s lived with depression
for such a long time, is that you learn to adapt, and you become a high
functioning chronically depressed human being. Most people don’t know when I’m
suffering a relapse, even my own mother, who was the first to understand that
it was not normal for a child to cry for no reason at all, and when I was formally diagnosed, did not shy away nor
ignore my illness. Today she has become somewhat out of tune when I’m relapsing, because
most of the times I just work through it on my own.
For those of you that might have wondered why I’d been MIA
for a couple of months with writing, well, that’s because I’ve been in relapse.
What does it feel like?
First of all, please don’t take my experience as the
standard for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional, but I know myself
well enough to recognize when I’m relapsing, and have enough understanding to
seek medical treatment on my own. Mental health is complex, because it affects
everyone differently. The basis are the same, but once you get through the
first level, then it becomes “customized”. What I go through is not what you
might go through.
For me, I’m 95% of the time able to function daily. You
probably won’t notice much of a difference in my performance. But what goes on
inside me, is a very challenging battle being fought, and the mental battle can sometimes be extreme and epic. The mere task of actually
waking up in the mornings is a battle. There have been a few times where it took 45 mins just to brush my teeth. My stress levels are high because I’m
trying to figure out in my brain if I should take the advice that are being
presented in my depressive state or not. Is what I’m thinking logical because
it really is logical, or if it’s depression pitching in and playing the part.
The biggest cue for me to recognize I’m relapsing, is when I
have “suicidal” thoughts. I’ve never hurt myself directly, but ideas come in a
lot more aggressively. Thoughts like being injured or being diagnosed with something
start floating in, and that’s my main check point of a relapse taking place. During
my second pregnancy, I knew I’d relapsed hard because the thought of aborting
my fetus came, and I recognized that it was not a normal thought I was having,
so I had my doctor help and we monitored me while taking an anti-depressant
during pregnancy and 6 months postpartum.
My brain is in chaos and it hurts when I’m relapsing. The
best way I can explain is that my brain is full of junk, and I’m trying to sort
it and put it into order, but I can’t because my concentration is severely
compromised. This is one of the biggest reasons why I hadn’t written for a
while, not because I have nothing to say, I have plenty of thoughts, but
because those thoughts are so damn hard to put out, it’s like trying to translate
into a different language when you absolutely suck at the language you’re
trying to translate into.
Even writing this piece at the moment, is pretty tough, I’ve
thought about throwing in the towel on it many times today, since 10:00am this morning, but
I’m fighting hard to make sure I say something, because I know I have to. I need to.
Bell Let’s Talk Day, thank you for raising awareness. Let’s continue
to work on wiping out the stigma of mental health.
I’m gonna reward myself with a box of cookies now for
actually having finished writing this.
And yes, weight fluctuations is also a factor when I’m