Around the fall of 2011, I started to crash. The pain was gradual, yet intense and caused my depression to spiral out of control. I had mastered the art of putting on a happy facade but could no longer disguise my inner feelings. I had reached a breaking point and could no longer manage the struggles brought upon by my life.
I had just started a sucky, low paying job and was not in the best of touch with many of my close friends. I believed I was a failure and that it was reason why people abandoned me. Combined with my academic shortcomings and my father's chronic illnesses, nothing seemed to be going well for me. I gave up on trying to make the best of things and seriously considered giving up on everything.
Things have improved considerably since then. For the first time in my life I have a positive outlook on my future while also having an understanding of the challenges caused by my depression. It is sad that it took a mental breakdown and a hospitalization for me to properly tend to my illness but I am thankful for that particular catharsis. Perhaps I needed such a traumatic event for me to not only seek the help I need, but also for loved ones, most notably my parents, to recognize how unhealthy I was.
The day I was admitted was also the day I began my quest for healing, which meant a lot of studying and a lot of learning. If I had to pinpoint the start of my depression, I would say that it started during my first year in high school, but I did not know it at that time. The teasing and bullying caused me to cry myself to sleep some nights and I went from excelling in gifted programs to having be placed on punishment for abysmal grades. Yet despite the now obvious signs and symptoms, I had not a clue of what was wrong with me. Depression was not even a part of my vocabulary so how could I possibly treat something not yet diagnosed?
Things got better but dark feelings began to resurface after my first year of college. I was put on academic leave and things went downhill from there. Absorbed in my self-deprecation, I was paralyzed, unable to move forward. And when I did show signs of improvement, the death and illness of many family members buried me back into the quicksand.
I am a long way from where I was then but not close to where I need to be. To this day, there are still aspects of my depression that I struggle with. It is why I am in therapy. It is why I write about my experiences and am constantly in search of community. My struggles- past and present- are unique and difficult, but with self-awareness, always, always manageable.
This post is cross listed at LeChele's new blog on black people and mental health issues, Black With The Blues.