Throughout this entire semester (It’s hard to believe my first semester of college is over in one day!!), I’ve heard so many remarks about mental illnesses, specifically depression. I’ve heard so many statements such as “She was depressed and had anxiety so I stopped talking to her” “I’m so depressed because my boyfriend won’t talk to me”, “she’s so crazy”, etc. I want to start by saying that, MENTAL ILLNESSES ARE NOT A CHOICE. If they were a choice, I would NEVER have asked to struggle with depression or to have such bad anxiety where I can’t even talk on the phone because it freaks me out so much. So why do people continue to think that mental illnesses are a choice? Mental health is a choice, mental illnesses are not.
Depression. Depression sucks you in and spits you right back out. Depression sneaks out of nowhere and attacks you for no reason. Unless you’ve ever actually dealt with it, you don’t know what it’s like. For me, I was diagnosed in eight grade. I wasn’t even 14 yet and I knew the cruel reality of this illness. Depression isn’t something to make a joke about because it truly is simply a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s an illness, not a choice. Depression is terrible. It makes the most simple daily tasks the hardest to do. Your mind starts to convince you that it’s okay to not be able to get out of bed, it’s okay to not do anything, it’s okay to not eat or to over eat. Your body becomes so consumed by this black slippery slope that’s so hard to get out of.
Depression is feeling numb. Depression is not feeling anything at all but feeling everything at once. For some, depression is feeling like there is no other way to cope than self harming because you so badly want to feel something. Depression is taking that emotional pain and turning it to physical pain because you want to feel something. Depression is a war with yourself and only you can truly understand it if you’ve fought the battle. Depression is hell. Depression fucking sucks. It’s feeling like you don’t want to die but you don’t want to live because you’re so tired of being in this black hole. It’s the 13 year old girl in intensive out patient because she decided she doesn’t want to live anymore and her only way of coping is to cut herself. It’s the feeling of knowing what it’s like to overdose on any medicine you can find in your house because you’ll do anything to take the pain away. It’s the days where you simply don’t care anymore. It’s the times where all you can do is blankly stare off into space because while your body is there, your mind isn’t. Depression takes over your mind and turns it into a combat zone. Depression is doing things to make you feel alive but so often those things are the things that can kill you. Depression is a long road to recovery. Just because I may have depression, that doesn’t mean that I can’t smile, laugh, have fun.
Depression is not a sad day. Depression is not “I’m so depressed because my boyfriend won’t talk to me.” Depression is not continuous crying all day everyday. Depression is not glamourous. Depression is not a choice so why make it look seem one? Depression is not something you can understand until you’ve dealt with it. Depression is smaller than you. Depression is the cloud within the entire sky. The sky was there before the cloud. The cloud can’t exist without the sky but the sky can exist without the cloud.
Anxiety. Where do I even begin with anxiety? Anxiety is like the friend who is constantly nagging at you. Anxiety is like having a thousand worries that are totally irrelevant to people without anxiety. Except when you have anxiety, those worries consume you and they are all you think about. Anxiety is feeling like you’re being suffocated. It feels like something is never right although you can never actually put your finger on that something. Anxiety tells you that everything is going to go wrong and everything is terrible when in fact, the anxiety is the wrong. Nothing is going to go wrong and nothing is ever as bad as anxiety makes it seem. Anxiety feels like your stomach is a bottomless pit waiting to implode. Anxiety is the constant knot in your stomach that you can never seem to undo.Anxiety is like being pulled in a million different directions and you’re unsure of which way is right. Anxiety is what keeps you up at night. It makes you worry. It makes you think about things that happened years or months or days ago and yet you’re still worried about them. It’s replaying a situation thats going to happen over and over again. Anxiety is the monster that is always one step behind you and you can never get away from it. Anxiety is overthinking your overthinking. It’s thinking of a million things at once. Anxiety is feeling like you have no control over you’re life and you’re just sitting there waiting for things to happen. Anxiety is not being able to talk in front of a class but a teacher makes you do it anyways and you want to burst into a million little pieces because teachers don’t understand that it’s not that I don’t want to talk in front of the class, I can’t talk in front of the class. Anxiety is the bitch that never goes away even though you try to ignore her.
You are not your mental illness. You are not your diagnosis. You are not the labels people want to give you.