Bell Let’s Talk

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 9:07 PM | Sandy

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 years old.

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 relapsing…

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