It is still hard for me to write openly about my (ongoing) struggle with depression and anxiety. I want to write about it as if it is a past experience, or something that happens to other people. I want it to be a redemptive story, a story of hope and resolution. But more than anything, I want to be honest. I want the story to be true, & I want to own that truth.
Today I feel as if I am recovering from staying alive. Sometimes I think this is the hardest part of struggling with depression and anxiety: dealing with the aftermath of a bad depressive (and suicidal) episode. Coping with suicidal thoughts is hard. Coping with the fact that you want to stay alive? This is harder.
I know nothing of wars between nations, but I know too well the war of metnal illness. What do you do when the battle is won, but the war is far from over? How do you come to terms with what you’ve done? How do you forgive yourself for the horrors that ensued while you faced your demons? How do you say “sorry” to the people you hurt in the process? How do you say sorry to yourself? How do you say, “It’s okay”?
You ask for space. You demand space. You go to counseling. You ask for time. You appologize for needing it, and some people will never understand just how much you really needed it. Most people will never know that you spent six mornings in a row waking up to anxiety attacks and- after convincing yourself to sip your coffee and get dressed and go about your day- you spent six nights (or was it 7? 8?) toying with the idea of what it would be like to end your life. It feels weird to even write it without justifying what you mean. It doesn’t make sense even in your own handwriting or as the words escape from your mouth. This isn’t you. This isn’t how you want to be living.
The last time the thought crossed your mind, you were alone in an apartment surrounded by balloons and streamers. You cried. Your chest hurt. You tried to breathe deeply. Your make up was everwhere. But you had a birthday celebration to attend. You washed your face and tried to smile and were soon surrounded (read: distracted) by people you love.
This was written a few weeks ago. I’m late sharing my April post because of shame and stigma. Because most of those closest to me would not believe these things are real. This isn’t the Charlotte they know. This isn’t the Charlotte they want to know. Stigma sucks.
A year ago, almost to the day, I struggled more than I had in a long time. After coming out of that season with the help of friends and sleep and counseling, I thought that would be the last time I would ever feel that depressed. I wrote a blog post about it. The season passed. But it’s not the end. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety can be a life long struggle sometimes.
I am learning to love myself- and all of my struggles- through this. One of my favorite poets says this:
“The only love i need is
the one i have for myself
and it is strong enough to
heal everything that breaks
me. so i do not need a lover,
what i need is a friend.
someone who understands me
and someone who is not afraid
of the chaos my world brings.”
R. M. Drake.
Let us be continually open to the chaos our worlds bring. Let us befriend one another, and love each other by encouraging self-love.
Grace and peace, beautiful friends.