Monday, February 22, 2016

Four things I wish someone had told me when I was depressed.

I was very excited to have a piece I wrote published on The Mighty, which is a great resource for people sharing their personal experiences and lessons learned from dealing with mental illness, disability, and other issues in their own life or a loved one's. The piece was edited, of course, though since I'm a little long-winded (and maybe got too vindictive...?) which made me a little sad. It feels like less of my own work. So I thought I would publish the original piece here.

But first, here's the link to the published article: 

And below is what I originally sent in:

A Letter to Myself a Year Ago
By Becca Joy
I’ve been meaning for some time to write a piece reflecting on my experience with a severe bout of depression last year. I had struggled with depression since my early adolescence, but a bad reaction to (ironically) the antidepressant I was taking put me into a worse state of physical and mental depression than I had ever been before, all while living at university several hours from home. When I realized that it was this week a year ago that I had to leave college unexpectedly for about a week and go home because things had gotten so bad, I was inspired to write a few things that I wish I could have heard at that time when life looked so bleak.
1.       People will be oddly silent when you tell them what’s going on for real, which is disappointing and hurtful. They don’t know what to say. It is a lot to take in, after all. They feel uncomfortable. They are young. It’s lame of them to do and it will make you will feel even lonelier. I’m so sorry. But you are strong and self-reliant and there will be a few people who try to help. No one can fix you, but eventually you and your family will figure out the changes that need to be made that will help life slowly get better, and though the struggle will never fully fade, you will be a survivor, even if people don’t recognize the battle. Don’t forget your own strength and don’t let other people’s weakness keep you from being honest.
2.       You have value even if you are ignored, excluded, glossed over, belittled, and rejected. Even though you like yourself deep down, you question your value and put yourself down because others don’t seem to care about you or think you’re good enough. Your mind goes in circles trying to figure out why you didn’t get chosen for that club or elected for that office or asked out by that boy. Why people ignore you or don’t seem interested in being friends. People can be lame, selfish, and cliquish. I’m sorry about that, self. It really sucks and will frustrate you for the rest of your life. But you are strong and talented and you will find your place one day. People don’t have to recognize your strength and value for it to be true. You wouldn’t stand to see other people’s value belittled, so why do you berate and abuse yourself?
3.       People may even be total jerks sometimes, but that is a reflection on who they are, not who you are. The underhanded digs friends sometimes make about how you sleep all the time. You know that you can’t help how constantly exhausted you feel, that something has changed inside your body. So don’t let their lack of compassion get to you. If they were a real friend, they would be concerned, not critical. And that supposed friend who says you don’t deserve for a guy to be nice to you just because you’re nice to him? That says a world about what kind of person he is, so don’t believe a word of it. The guy you like who subtly puts you down for as many times as he says something kind of nice? He is insecure and immature and you deserve better. You were kind and reached out to help all of these people who have insulted and ignored you and that is a reflection on your character. Don’t let others’ insecurity dictate your value.
4.      It will be a long journey to healing, and you will lose a lot that is precious to you, but you will also gain so much. While it has been undeniably painful to have so many doors closed in your face and you will ultimately have to give up a dream you had and leave the school you had such high hopes for being happy at, you will eventually find new opportunities and blessings in the unexpected detour you are forced to take. You will have a story to tell. You will develop a more compassionate heart. You will learn to live a healthier life. You will find new dreams to chase.
For anyone else out there who is struggling, here are some words I wish I could have heard when I felt there was no hope: Your life matters. You are valuable. Your life is worth living. Your problems are legitimate. You are not alone. You deserve better.  You are loved.

No comments:

Post a Comment