I have depression. There. I said it. Holy shit, the elephant in the room has been named! I won’t tell you that I suffer from it, but instead I’ll say I deal with it. Much like an addiction, admitting is the first step and it’s taken me two decades to finally do it. I, along with many other people had bought into the stigma. I spent 6 years obtaining a psych degree (yes, I see the irony in this) so I knew all about the signs, symptoms, treatments and knew that someone with depression isn’t broken or fucked up. Yet, I didn’t want to be labeled as someone with a mental illness. So, instead I gave excuses for my illness – “I’m just feeling down for some reason”, “it’s just a bad day/week/month”, “I’m fine but I just need some time away from everything”. Not once when I had an extreme reaction to a negative event did I think “hmm maybe this is something bigger.”
Maybe worse than the guilt was the apathy – I stopped feeling sad, yet I also couldn’t feel happy. I felt nothing. Not even a numbness. Just nothing. My sister asked me the day after I got out of the hospital “what if I would have hesitated? What if the ambulance didn’t get here so fast?” And the only response I could give her was “then I guess we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” I had no interest in eating, I wasn’t sleeping and I didn’t really want to do anything other than lie on the couch watching Netflix. One of my saving graces was finding an outlet where I felt good and I got to forget about everything for a period of time. For me, that was yoga. When I teach a class, I don’t have time to obsessively think about what’s going on in my world. Instead, my focus is the people in front of me and the energy I’m sharing with them. Now, that’s not to say that downward dog will solve all of my problems, but I’m fortunate to have found a space that feels safe and a community full of the most caring, considerate and amazing humans.
Now that I’m seeing the tail end of my last episode, I wouldn’t by any means say I’m cured. I’m instead learning to live with depression and not let it consume me. I’m coming to terms with the idea of being on medication and having a team of professionals who want to work with me to help me feel okay. I still have my good days and my bad days and the good days are finally starting to win over the bad. I still feel like I’ve got more healing to do but I’m working on it. I’m trying my best to let myself be open and be vulnerable to new things (which is easier said than done). I’m not sure I’m quite okay with knowing someone or something will probably hurt me again somewhere in the future yet. But, at least I’ve got tools to use to keep myself from falling down the rabbit hole again.