You may have noticed that I’ve been awfully quiet here for the past couple of months. It’s not like I haven’t wanted to share adventures I’ve had and things I love with you. It’s that I haven’t been able to do it. So many times I’ve sat down in the exact place I am now, looking at a blank screen, knowing what I wanted to talk about, but not being able to focus or pull myself together long enough to put an entry together.
I could make a joke and tell you that Nan hibernates in the winter or something along those lines. But today I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been fighting my way through a nasty bout of depression. Pair that with my anxiety, and quite frankly it’s lucky anyone sees me at all.
Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk day. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on Bell, the day itself, the good, the bad, etc. But yesterday nearly 6.3 million dollars was raised for mental health initiatives in Canada, so I’d call that a win.
The problem is that, while we’re all open and active and willing to tell our stories one day a year, the rest of the time, the conversation falls pretty quiet. Even now, I’m kind of terrified to be writing this, and if you are reading this, it means I managed to wrestle with my fear of being completely honest with others, and even with myself, and accepted that the need to talk about it is more important. Or Liam hit publish while my back was turned. We’ll see.
So I guess the best way to keep the conversation rolling past Bell Let’s Talk Day is to share my story on a different day.
About six years ago, I was actually doing a good job of being the happiest I had been in years. I was working on my health, focusing on what makes me happy, and enjoying working with a good friend. As time went on, this friendship became toxic, and a pattern of emotional abuse started to show. This emotional abuse took a toll on me. I used to fear seeing that name on my phone, or hearing the facebook chat notification. They would make me feel like I wasn’t good enough, and they would often suggest that without them, I would be incapable of achieving my goals.
In time, I found that there were days when I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I couldn’t focus on schoolwork. I would go out with friends, but would soon feel highly uncomfortable. I managed to sever the relationship that was causing me so much trouble, but the damage was done.
As time went on, my new-found issues got worse. The days where I had to wrestle with myself to get up grew, to the point where day after day I would sit on the edge of my bed and cry, wondering why I couldn’t make myself just get up. I would watch the clock until I knew my class had started, and I was still stuck to the bed. I would rage at myself. I would curse myself for being such a lazy piece of garbage, and I would watch emotionless shows on Netflix to tune myself out.
People close to me started noticing that I would spend days at a time in my pajamas, doing nothing. They would ask me about my classes – did I even go today? And in turn, I would get mad at them too, for voicing things I was already mad at myself about. I would sarcastically point out that I had things under control.
But I didn’t.
As time slipped through my fingers, I started to panic. Then one day, Jenn finally put her foot down. “Something is wrong, and you need to talk to someone.” So she helped me set up an appointment at MUN. I only talked for a few minutes before the lady I met with explained to me that I had bad depression and anxiety problems.
This came at the end of the semester. It was too late to rectify everything that I had let slide, and I decided to step away from university for a while to work on figuring things out. I’ve gotten good at reminding myself that depression lies, I’ve come to understand that my anxiety often rears its ugly head in the form of unexplained aggression and irritability, I’m learning to cut things that don’t bring me happiness from my life, and I’m learning to pursue the things that keep my spirits up. I’ve been building a wall full of embroideries to inspire confidence and self-care.
Yesterday, my friend Lisa (who also writes an incredible blog) told me she’s glad I got help. But here’s the thing. Other than meeting with that one woman twice at MUN, I haven’t gotten help. I’ve been afraid. My depression whispers in my ear, saying that it’s not worth it, that other people need it more, that I’m exaggerating my feelings. I don’t have the means necessary to go talk to someone every week, and up until a couple of weeks ago, I was afraid to talk to my doctor. (But it was legit because the woman is cold as ice. Didn’t even offer me condolences when I saw her regarding my grandfather’s passing. On my birthday.)
Finally, I fought through my fears and found a new doctor. A kind, understanding woman, who I know is a kindred spirit because when we were talking about my work and hobbies she exclaimed “Isn’t food the greatest!?” So next week when I see her, I am going to finally ask for help. After all these years of trying and failing to fully manage it on my own, I am doing the right thing, being kind to myself, and admitting outside of myself that it exists and that right now, I can’t manage it alone.
So there’s my story, laid out in full for the first time. Some of these things I hadn’t even fully addressed myself until the words were on the screen. But that leads in to my next point.
Talk to a friend, a family member, a doctor, a journal even. Just get your feelings out. Acknowledge what is there. Because you don’t have to suffer alone. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, we learn about all our friends who have had struggles similar to ours. But don’t forget that once that day has passed, those friends’ struggles are still there. Just like yours are. It’s nice to have a day to bring awareness, but don’t forget that every other day, we’re still here for you.