To say that this was an easy journey would be a lie. To say that this is the only time I’ve made this journey would also be a lie. To say that the journey is to be made alone is perhaps the biggest lie of them all.
Depression is a hell of a thing. It can creep up on you from out of nowhere, hit you all at once like a ton of bricks, and worst of all, lie to you. It lies so convincingly that for months you second guess yourself. From the outside, decisions seem easy, but from the inside, things are foggy at best. Judgments are clouded. You can feel trapped in there, especially if you’ve never been there before.
But there is hope. There is ALWAYS hope.
Hope comes in the form of friends, family, co-workers, internet buddies, streaming communities, and gaming groups. There’s someone in there, probably lots of someones, rooting for you, even if you don’t know it yet. People want you to succeed. They believe in you. They CARE about you.
Everyday I see strangers letting others know that they care, that they are loved, and that they are important. I see it in the form of posts, during streams, or in daily life. People show praise for someone who has accomplished a goal and show support for someone who is having a rough day.
Sometimes it’s the little bits of feedback that remind me I am cared about and important: My Fitbit group checking in if my step count is significantly low. My sister texting me cat pictures. My neighbors’ dog standing up at the fence, ‘smiling’ at me and waiting for pets.
It can be hard to recognize sometimes. Stigma is a barrier that blocks this hope from those who need it. Stigma makes people afraid to express their feelings and needs surrounding their mental health issues for fear of being ridiculed, cast out, or judged. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can change it. It starts with talking about our experiences. It starts with sharing resources. It starts with letting people know that it’s OK to not be OK. It starts with us acknowledging that mental illness is common, probably more common than you think.
I’ve often had a hard time admitting to myself what is happening, justifying my thoughts and feelings away with other reasons. Maybe saying I’m just tired or need to exercise more. Maybe falling into a trap of focusing on my work and being supportive to others instead of myself. But when it happens, I need to remember to take care of myself and accept support. We ALL need a reminder sometimes – a reminder that there is a beacon of hope thought all that fog.
I’m on the other side of some of the worst depression I’ve had in many years. The kind that scares you when you’re coming out of it. I’m still on my journey. And I may be for a while, but my support network is helping me through. I encourage you to start your journey. To talk to a friend. To seek out education or resources. It’s OK to not be OK, but it’s also dangerous to go alone. You don’t have to go alone. I’m rooting for you.