So, as I've said, from here on out I'll be talking about my battle/journey with depression/anxiety.
To reiterate, I can't really tell you when I "officially" felt sick. I was around 16-17 when I finally admitted that I needed help, that I didn't like my life, I didn't like who I was and that I felt like I was drowning.
For most people, admitting you need help is the biggest challenge--and that was no different for me. I love my family, I really do, but my mom is a Licensed Mental Health Therapist, and all I remember from my low days are her treating me more like a client than as a daughter. Sometimes, you just need someone to tell you that it's okay to not be okay and that sometimes, it's just going to suck.
What shocked me the most when I began fighting depression was the stigma associated with it. Clearly, high schoolers are mean and ignorant to the fact that depression is an actual disease, but you don't really understand how mean and ignorant they are until you're left to your own devices on a daily basis.
I remember that I cried a lot. I remember that I wasn't quite sure what was going on and why I was so unhappy, when I seemingly had no reason to be so unhappy. I remember the first doctor's visit, my doctor doing her job by merely asking "Has your daughter ever been tested for Bipolar Disorder?" and my mother virtually coming out of her skin because, "No, absolutely not. She is not bipolar. She's just unhappy."
I didn't understand that depression was hereditary. I didn't understand the fact that other members of my family had fought this same battle, because it was a taboo subject in my family due to the different opinions on treatment.
I remember the arguments between my parents as I sat on the floor crying. Mom arguing that I didn't need poison (aka any kind of medicine) as my dad argued that it needed to be considered because clearly therapy wasn't going to go over well with me.
|Courtesy of "Fighting Depression" on Facebook|
I remember, at this young age, being put on Effexor. A medicine that flipped my world back to where I felt normal, but didn't understand how severe my doctor must have believed my depression was to put such a young person on 75 mgs of Effexor.
I remember the words from my classmates, as they pierced through my skin and heart and did nothing but make my fight harder.
She's just being dramatic.
No one is that unhappy all the time, she's just looking for attention.
Haha, she cuts herself? What a psycho. She shouldn't be trusted.
Just leave her alone, it's better that way.
Depression is like having leprosy. No one wants to be around you, for fear that they're going to be sucked into your feelings.
I have fought, every day, against this disease (of some shape) for seven, almost eight, years. I've seen, firsthand, the stigma attached to it. Doctors see that you've been diagnosed depressed or anxious, and they treat you differently--thinking that it's just the depression causing your illness. Friends who don't understand the ups and downs. Family members who judge your life and way of handling stress. Switching therapists because there's only so much reconstructing of your life that one person can do with another. Fighting with insurance companies about whether medications for depression and anxiety are actually necessary, just furthering the depression of those of us who are actually fighting.
It needs to end. All of the stigmas need to end.
Depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain. You cannot merely just say, "I'm going to get over this," and wave a magic wand to better yourself. You cannot re-balance your chemicals without help and it's okay to ask for help, and to keep asking for help.
There are different kinds of depression but, regardless, we are all silent warriors.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the average age of onset is 14 years old. 14. When your body is changing and you're already confused and now you have this to deal with.
Almost 20% of all adults suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder and of those, at least 4% are considered severe cases.
Enough is enough.
We are not crazy people. We are not who society thinks we are. We are not "emo," we are not just "constantly sad" or have "persistent boredom." These are all parts of the definition of depression on UrbanDictionary.com--a reliable source, of course not, but it gives you a pretty good idea of how society views this disease.
We are sick. We are fighting.
We are the silent warriors.
And I'm through being silent.