When we created this blog we vowed to make it a place of honesty. Which is why I've decided to share with you a part of myself I've been hiding from well, most everyone in my life. My words are coming from a place of hope for myself and anyone reading who may need it.
Ever since I can remember I've been battling Persistent Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. Although, I didn't know them by those names until a year ago when I finally reached out for help. This may come as a surprise to many of my friends and people who have met me because it's something I have fought very hard to hide. I become embarrassed and ashamed during episodes as I feel it contradicts the person I want to be or feel I truly am inside. So when it happens I do things like hide myself in a room, disappear from a social gathering, ignore texts, move to a new place or whatever I feel is necessary to keep people from seeing through to the "bad parts" of me. I've become overwhelmed with this idea that I HAVE to be the happy person people can rely on, not the depressed girl who needs to be cheered up all the time. So I have desperately tried to filter myself to only show the version I want people to know. But dammit, i'm exhausted and this is my white flag. I am going to try my best to share all parts of me from now on. I know it won't be easy but here I am. It's honesty hour folks.
I began taking medication 1 year ago which has helped some but what has truly aided my journey is coming to understand vulnerability - getting over my fears of losing people and opportunities because of "the way I really am". I am slowly but surely opening myself up to people, new ideas, and new habits.
I owe this realization entirely to a young adult book called "Every Last Word". After reading it, I knew I needed to find a therapist (if you read it you'll understand). I had hunted for one before but every person I sat down with just didn't feel right. They didn't understand my feelings or goals. It kind of felt like a discouraging round of speed dating. That was until I found Hillary.
As much as I was hoping she'd hand over a magic potion that would strip away all the darkness, I knew it wasn't reality. I have learned that i cannot be "fixed" per say. Depression isn't a matter of refusing to look at the glass half full. It's not something a person can simply outthink. It shows itself in many forms and can come for different reasons, like genetics, chemical imbalances, tragic events, ect. For me it's felt like 15 years of a creepy villain dude appearing at his will, covering me with a 200 lb blanket, and taping my mouth shut. Meaning it's nearly impossible some days to get out of bed, get words out of my mouth, or concentrate on the task at hand. Paired with anxiety, I've battled nightmares, panic attacks and extreme muscle tension. I literally wake up from sleep with swollen fingers from squeezing my hands into fists all night. Like what the heck is that about? Haha. Not cool hands! But in all seriousness, what Hillary has helped me understand is that the most damaging part of my condition turns out to be the part I CAN control. The self judgment. The self hatred. THE SHOULD-ING.
I've made it a habit to turn to these things when the creepy villain dude shows up. I begin should-ing all over myself. Attacking myself with thoughts like:
"I SHOULD be more productive"
"I SHOULD be more successful by now"
"I SHOULD look more like her"
"I SHOULD be happier"
"I SHOULD be a better friend"
"I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD"
I get so hung up on everything I'm NOT that I lock myself into the bad feelings, letting them consume me, taking me down to my darkest place surrounded by SHOULDS. And when I'm there, I do things I'm not proud of. I say things I don't mean. I'm just really not nice to myself or considerate of the people around me. 🙁
So how the heck do I stop should-ing and what will happen if I do? Well... honestly I haven't quite mastered it yet BUT I'm giving it my all and feeling optimistic.
I believe that if I can quiet down the "shoulds" I will have a clearer mind, allowing myself to use tools shared with me by my therapist to shorten the length of my episodes. Meaning I'll spend more of my time loving myself, loving people and doing things I love. Just so much love guys! And that's all I want! I want to help make the world a better place but before I can fully do that, I need to help myself. And that's okay.
It will take practice, it will take time but I know I can get there. And I know I don't have to do it alone.
So here I am humans of planet earth.
Just a girl with big big dreams, a lot of love to give and Persistent Depressive Disorder/GAD. I'm okay with it. And I'm going to learn to not let these things cripple me. I can be successful with them, because I am much more than my diagnosis. I am Madeline. The ups and downs, all of it. Take it or leave it.
Love you all. Thanks for listening.
P.S. for anyone reading this who faces similar struggles, you are so very loved. And as hard as it may be to hear, you are only as alone in it as you let yourself be. There are people with open arms just waiting to love you and help you. Let them help you. You deserve it.