To be honest, i’m not sure where I am or how i’m doing these days. Everything kind of just seems likes its a haze. Sometimes I have a lot of emotions, little energy and no concentration. Other days i’m on fire, completely engaged in everything and able to focus on what I need to do. It’s a little overwhelming to realize it was 4 years ago to the day that I was diagnosed with major depression. So here we go, my four year anniversary post.
I realize opening up about my struggles with depression can bring judgment from people, but I also realize it helps to bring awareness for many. I’ve experienced it first hand, but I also have seen the importance of helping contribute to the dialogue that needs to take place. How glad I am to see people confide in me about their own battles and journey to healing themselves. Or those who are struggling but don’t know where to get the support they need. For many who know me, I come across as someone who is “put together”, happy, and hardworking, but little do people often realize i’ve struggled with depression for nearly 10 years and it wasn’t until 4 years ago I had the courage to admit something wasn’t right with me and sought help from family, friends and therapists and received the medical care I needed to help me find balance once again.
I want people to know they can count on me as a friend regardless of how well we actually know one another to be there to listen, support, and care for those having a rough day, week, or patch. For those too afraid to reach out, know that there are organizations such as DepressionHurts or Mood Disorders Association of Ontario which both offer advice on where to start in getting the help you feel you may need.
The goal of my blog has always been to highlight the struggles of an average person struggling with depression. Secondly, my blog allows me to express how events impact me and helps showcase my progress and the setbacks I encounter in my struggles with my disorder. I want people to understand what depression feels like, how something major or even something considered “simple” or “trivial” to someone else can cause so much turmoil, sadness, or strike absolutely no emotion in me. That even the most exciting of events or encounters can leave me feeling empty, withdrawn, and exhausted when i’m depressed.
One year ago I was in London, England supposed to be having the time of my life (and it was awesome) but there was apart of me that was unfulfilled and was always scared for what lay ahead. That was sad for what I left behind, I spent my time there always looking back and feeling like my choice was a burden to someone else. Thoughts of the state of my life and where it was going, pushing myself to do well and keep up with my Master’s, trying to find and understand what makes me happy, or even where was my relationship heading filled my mind.
I ended 2015 on a painful note, going through a tough break up with someone who I cared deeply about and still admittedly do. There were so many things going on at the time. Mistakes we made and things were done. It still pains me to think about everything that went on during that time. The emotions I felt then are similar to how I feel now. Empty.
I started off 2016 on a relatively negative note and somehow I still feel like I end it on a negative note. On some level I feel like I lost more than I gained. I lost people and things throughout the year that I would have been willing to do anything for because they meant that much to me.
Although, the year wasn’t all negative news. I’ve always strived to not become a negative nelly. For awhile I was incredibly happy and content with things that filled my life. I had my best friend by my side, I was able to enjoy for a while my time overseas, open up to people, connect with others, and work my butt off to get into my dream program. But then it all came crashing down again.That darkness came back over me in July. That cloud that always followed me reappeared over my head and followed me around. The final trigger was eventually pulled. I felt the carpet beneath me ripped straight out from under my feet. I know things happen for a reason and life is funny, but it still pains me to think about the one person I loved so deeply walking away in a split second. I’d like to say i’m angry or bitter at them for choosing to walk away when I needed them most, when it felt like everything was crashing, they chose to leave in my moment of weakness. It’s even more disappointing to have experienced what happened after the break up. Everything that was said, done, and lost. I thought you didn’t truly know someone until you’ve lived with them, but you really don’t know someone until you’ve experienced a stressful and time consuming situation.
I have to admit i’ve had to learn a ton of things this year. I think the hardest thing to figure out is learning to let go. It’s hard to not miss someone when you loved and cared about them so much to begin with. Moments when you think you’re finally starting to let go of them and have a good day, to all of a sudden be kicked in the heart all over again. It’s a lot harder to take in when you know they already began the process of moving on with someone new without you. It’s hard to not be bitter given everything that was said and what went on between us, but at the same time there’s nothing more that I want then to see them happy, even if it kills to not have be me. I try not to think about the what ifs, “what if they had stayed”, “what if I had done or said this differently”, “what if things were different”. It’s just with everything we went through after the break up I wish things didn’t have to end the way that they did. To the point where I couldn’t have them around anymore and pushed them away in my darkest moment when they should have been there. I get that they “weren’t that person in my life anymore”, but it’s not hard to ask in someone is okay or to at least say something, ANYTHING for that matter. I was left to feel like I had to go through this process alone. I can’t be upset or mad at them. Not everything said and done was their fault, I take just as much of the blame. It just hurts to think of everything that’s been said, done, and promised over the past weeks, months, and years.But maybe I learned something about them and their abilities to handle things under stress. What’s hard is letting go of the person you once knew, to have these moments make you question whether they’re even the same person you once knew. It’s so easy to get caught up on these things, but in reality I know it just hold me back. I get things happen and sometimes life doesn’t always go according to plan, but it still doesn’t stop from sucking. Letting go of someone also doesn’t mean you stop caring about or loving them either. It’s a process and i’m still trying to figure out how to adapt to everything and try to create new paths where I put my happiness first.
I also learned I need to take a step back and put my happiness first. For the majority of the year I was always focused on how to make everyone else happy whether it would be flying half way across the world or going out of my way to do things for others through driving them places, dropping everything important to talk to be with someone, or negating my own wishes because someone didn’t want something or to go somewhere. I thought what I was doing was right, giving up my own feelings and happiness to make someone else happy. But in the end, what did I walk away with? Nothing. A statement that what I offered wasn’t good enough or I didn’t make them truly happy Sure I may have made someone else happy and even myself temporarily, but it always passed and I always felt like I had to do more after to keep things up. It took such a toll on my body that I dropped 30 pounds in 2.5 months. Emotionally, I can’t keep putting myself last.
I learned the value of self-acceptance. I was close to someone who didn’t always fully accept me and my condition looking back. I think a large part of it came from their own inability to admit to needing some help or that there was something wrong in what they were saying, doing, or even coping. That belittling my illness at times by saying “it’s not a real thing” or “just get over it”, really solves the issue at hand. Would it be different if I had cancer or some other “recognized” illness? Possibly. I didn’t choose to have depression and in no way would I want to wish this upon someone else. I’ve always been incredibly motivated, hard-working, and positive, but when i’m going through my bouts of depression all I want to do is sleep all day, cry, and do nothing productive all alone. It’s like a cloud of emptiness that sits on your soul, hovering within you and sucking the life out of me. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel and be weak at times. I am human. I am not perfect and there are times when I say and do the wrong things. But i’m also not afraid to reach out to people for help or to be open about my struggles. I feel no shame in admitting I have struggled with depression for a large portion of my life and I will likely continue to struggle for a lot longer.
I think the biggest lesson I have to take out of everything is the notion that only you can control your happiness. For so long I have been stuck in the mentality of thinking other people can make me feel certain feelings or that by doing x,y or z for someone else i’ll be happy. But the truth is happiness comes from within and when you radiate happiness from your own self it comes back to you in other ways whether it be in relationships or what the universe brings back to you. But at the core of it all it starts with you. You can’t expect someone else to make you happy if deep down you aren’t happy within yourself.
So where does that leave me sitting at the end of 2016? In all honesty, it kind of feels like 2013 all over again. I feel like I went back to square one. I don’t even feel like myself anymore to be honest. I’ve struggled so hard to fight these dark clouds and for what? Some may question “what do you have to be “sad” about?”, “you need to get over yourself, stop being dramatic”or “you’re just pathetically weak”. But I know deep down i’m not. It takes a lot to admit when you need help, and that’s one thing i’ve learned in 2016. People are more receptive to helping you reach your goals when you’re open and honest with them. I’ve been able to work out schedules with my bosses to ensure i’m taking time to care for myself while balancing my other priorities, i’ve become closer to my family including those across the world in making sure i’m thinking straight and feeling supported, but i’ve also worked with my professors and school in creating a learning plan that allows me to feel comfortable in managing my condition. I don’t have to be afraid of my anxiety or depression side tracking me anymore because I know I have the tools to make sure I have an equal playing field.
With all the setbacks i’ve experienced, I took the big step of revisiting a psychiatrist later in December to help me better understand how to medically manage my condition. I’ve really struggled with anti-depressants this year and to be honest they do little for me in the big picture. Exercise and eating right help, but it’s often hard to do with a busy schedule and I feel the next best step would be to join support groups or a new form of therapy. However, I know things take time so i’m hoping 2017 will be a fresh start for me and my depression.
I know I do have things to be proud about. I had the opportunity to study at one of the world’s top academic institutions. I met friends from all over the world and had a chance to study and compete with them. I had the opportunity to love someone unconditionally. Sometimes pain is good because then you know you really did love that person and you were lucky enough to do so. I got into my dream program by beating out 1000 other applicants being the one of the “lucky” (or deserving) 140 chosen. I gained a new friend and family member, welcoming Teddy into my life. I had the chance to see the world from Iceland, Italy, all the way over to Taiwan. It was incredible seeing my family again after so many years and experiencing new foods and places. I also found something i’m incredibly passionate about- nursing. While sometimes things are really hard, i’m so grateful for the opportunity to study along some of the smartest and most caring people around. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be entering nursing and I look forward to what 2017 has to bring as I continue this journey with 139 others.
I don’t know what 2017 will have in store, but I do know that things do go up. You hit rock bottom and you’ll rise again. I’ve done it before and I hope to come back stronger and find who I am again and what makes me happy.
Another thing i’m proud of is the expansion of my blog. It’s been an incredible year with not only having purchased my own domain, but with the amount of visitors and views i’ve received. I’m so shocked that I doubled the amount of visitors from last year at this time. I also love being able to see where in the world everyone is viewing from and it’s been an incredible four years being able to keep track of everything. I appreciate all the support and lovely comments i’ve received over the year from everyone who has come along for my journey and I looked forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for my website.
Stats for 2016:
Stats for 2015
For those who are new to my blog that choose to join me on my journey of not only self-healing but helping to spread awareness of mental illness, I welcome you with open arms and appreciate your support. To those of you catching up on my journey, I thank you for taking the time to check in and catch up. Lastly, for those of you that have stood by me and continue to do so through all the highs and the lows, I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cheers and may the force be with you,