Ithaca, New York USA
"Hello World. I am writing this with slightly quivering hands. I have never written or talked openly about my mental illness, as I have struggled to accept the fact that I am not a perfect human being. I am now coming to the realization, four years after my major depressive disorder diagnosis that it is okay that I am not a perfect human being.
Anyone else struggled with the confrontation of their illness? That could be any illness… any sort of life-altering illness. You thought 'maybe if I push this away hard enough, it will not be a reality that there is a tumor growing in my liver' or 'maybe if I put a smile on my face, I can convince myself that I don’t want to kill myself.' For me, this used to be constant.
Let me hop back in time, and tell you my story. If you ask anyone in my life what I am like they would tell you I am the happiest, smiliest, bubbliest, most optimistic person. And I am! I really am! I am generally happy, smiley, bubbly, and optimistic. But, what is underneath that smile is darkness: lots and lots of darkness. What is under that smile is a deep feeling of hopelessness, self-hatred, loneliness, and extreme fatigue.
My junior year of high school, I missed over 40 days of school, mostly due to the fact I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. Most of my nights were spent wailing on my cold bathroom tile. I lost weight. I lost friends. I had written a suicide note. I was ready to end the excruciatingly painful life I was living. My depression was real and it was heavy. It still is.
For so long, I was ashamed of my depression. I was ashamed deep down to my core. My friends didn’t know. My brother didn’t even know. No one knew the extent of the hell I was living in. I thought of death more than I would like to admit. And, if you have ever been suicidal, you know that the thoughts are always looming. I just couldn’t see the point of living.
Two months ago, my depression came back hauling ass, which again, led me to a place where I was unable to function. I was admitted into the hospital. The psychiatric unit for me was horrible. For me, it was desolate, it was scary, and it was real. And, I ended up there.
My experience in the hospital was filled with a lot of tears and surprisingly, a couple laughs. One night, an old lady was admitted from the nursing home because she smashed the soda machine and they thought she was 'crazy.' We all sat in the common room giggling as she screamed at the nurses, ordering them around.
What I learned behind those locked doors was that most of the people that were beside me were normal, wonderful people. Normal, wonderful people that were struggling so deeply just like I was. I made friends, some old, some young. I heard people’s stories—raw, uncensored, tragic, stories. And I learned so much.
First, I learned that I was not alone. My friends called me and told me that they were proud of me. The people that I met inside were genuinely excited when I told them I was finally headed home. One even gave me her number and said I could contact her when I was feeling alone.
Second, I learned that this world is filled with beautiful people that are hurting too. You always hear that mental illness is so common, but it’s an invisible illness—you never really know. Well, I am here to tell you that if you aren’t struggling personally, there are people in the same room as you that are.
I still live with my depression, that will never change. But every day, a bit more light reveals itself. I realized that when I wanted to kill myself, it was not that I wanted to die as much as I longed to live. The world is so incredibly beautiful. There are babies to hold, dogs to snuggle, sunsets to watch and people to love. Life gets better, make sure you’re there to see it."