Something has really been popping up for me. It is my depression. Suicide and depression are mentioned often in the media and there’s this phrase that kicks me in the gut every time.
“They just seemed so happy.”
We get a lot of illustrations, dramatizations, and romanticisms of sadness, depression, and even mania. They help express some of these feelings for people that are experiencing them and they also offer those that might never understand mental illness a window into what it might look like.
I have belittled, covered up, and ignored my own mental illness due its lack of representation. I am not blaming representation, but I am now aware of how sick I felt and how honestly I believed that my depression wasn’t real because it didn’t look like anybody else’s.
For me, it doesn’t look like laying in bed all day. I still do that sometimes, but that's not my depression. For me, it doesn’t look like crying in the bathtub or rocking back and forth on the kitchen floor. I have done those things, but that's not my depression.
My depression looks like 2 new projects and 10 more hours a week at work. My depression looks like going out to new bars and connecting with strangers so I don’t have to open up to my friends. My depression looks like sleeping on the couch so I don't have to clean my room. It looks like fast food drive thru because I'm too "busy". It looks bloated. It looks glittery. It looks loud and excited and happy to be here.
When somebody asks me how I have been, I tell them that I’ve been depressed. It might surprise them, it might not, but now they know what my depression looks like. It’s not all sweat pants and top knots. It can look any number of ways.
The only thing that validated my feelings of depression was seeking help. Even when I was suicidal, I didn’t think I was depressed enough because I wasn’t bed ridden and crying. It wasn’t until my dad’s death that I considered therapy and it might have actually saved my life.
The lesson is this was a lesson I could take into the rest of my life: Just because it doesn’t look “right” doesn’t mean it isn’t real. My goals. My desires. My illness. My abuse. My childhood. My homemade vegan cheesecake.
It is real and valid and looks just the way it supposed to for me.