I suffer from depression, something I could and should be getting treatment for, but I have been afraid to seek treatment because doing so could be used as ammunition to invalidate my other very real but invisible ongoing health issues POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.) I have already had 3 out of about a dozen doctors tell me my illness was all in my head. That’s a quarter of them that wanted to just give me antidepressants and ignore all of my other symptoms.
I even went to see a psychiatrist to prove I wasn’t depressed so they couldn’t just write off my physical condition anymore. They psychiatrist even said I was the opposite of depressed. I had the will, and motivation to get things done, but lacked the energy to make it happen. He was both right and wrong. Not everyone that is depressed mopes around and can’t get out of bed. Like most things, it has a variety of ways of presenting itself. I kept my depression at bay by making sure I never had a moment alone with my thoughts. I worked full time, went to school full time, and still made sure I had a social and family life. Don’t ask me when I found time to sleep. Some of the most ambitious people are the unhappiest people you will ever meet, and you may never even realize it, because we’re hiding behind our ambition. I fear that Robin Williams was one of these types of people but I could be wrong because I didn’t know him personally.
The other thing I did that was immensely helpful for depression was running. This helped for two reasons, the usual runners high you get from the quick endorphin rush, but there are plenty of forms of exercises that help release endorphins. I was running because it was an instant fix. It was instant pain delivered to my body that I had control over. I was basically replacing cutting with running. Once I developed POTS I was no longer able to do this. At least not until I quit everything else and made exercising my priority. Then I sprained my ankle a few months ago and that was taken that away from me again.
Coincidentally the day Robin Williams took his life, I was barely holding on by a thread. I don’t remember what triggered it, it doesn’t matter because there will always be triggers. Learning how to deal with them is what’s important. It was about 1pm in the afternoon and I started drinking, something that I’m admittedly not suppose to do because of my dysautonomia. I’m now a lightweight and I knew one beer in, that it wasn’t going to help, so I picked up my cigarettes. I was slowly escalating my coping mechanisms. I know smoking is poisonous and extremely bad for me especially considering my condition, but is more socially acceptable than cutting so I always try that first to get some satisfaction. The cigarettes did nothing for me, so then I got out my box knife. I never cut deep, that’s not the point. It’s about converting the pain I feel inside to something I can control on the outside of my body. I’m always careful about where I cut, so that it’s not visible to most people. I kept slashing at both of my legs, and there was more and more blood and yet nothing. Where was my fucking high? I’ve never had cutting being completely non effective. I realized if I was left to my own devices I would just continue making cuts all over my body. I then asked my friend to do something I’ve never had to do before. I asked him to take the blade away from me before there were marks all over my body, or worse yet before I accidentally did something that would have caused more permanent damage. It’s been a very long time since I cared so little about me or anything else.
It’s been 15 years since I’ve gotten that low. I know it’s been 15 years because yesterday was my oldest nieces 15th birthday, and things changed once someone put her into my arms. I called her my Sunshine because she offered me great joy in my darkest of moments and I promised I would never do anything to intentionally cause harm to this beautiful creature. I now have 4 nieces and a nephew that have added to that joy. They are what keep me here. Anytime I want to selfishly remove myself from this planet to end my pain I just think of them. I lost my grandmother when I was 10 and I’ve never recovered from it, and she didn’t leave me intentionally, so how could I inflict that much pain on to any of them intentionally? I will not do that to them no matter of how often I think about doing it. They are no longer enough though. I need to find my own happiness, and because of my health I can no longer hide behind my ambitions.
Depression is a dirty word that I never wanted attached to me permanently because our society tells you this makes you weak. It’s time that people like myself speak up about it and aren’t afraid to talk about it. I’m working on that list bit. We must get rid of the stigma tied to this diagnosis so that more people will seek help. For anyone worried about this post, I have contacted a counselor and I am actively seeking help. If you relate to this, I hope you will do the same.
I recently realized that I have set myself up to be alone because I saw love as a liability not an asset. I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone get in the way of my ambitions. I pushed away every person that tried to be good to me because I didn’t want to be tied down. Now that I’ve been stripped of all my academic ambitions, I realize what I fool I’ve been. We are social creatures by nature, and I’m slowly and painfully learning that being independent doesn’t mean having to go it alone.