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Dancing with Depression

My last dating post, I talked about a partner dance that takes place when you're in a relationship with someone. This post is similar, but it's not about a partner that you want. It's a partner that you don't want around you at all, but somehow someway, they just keep popping back up trying to seduce you into feeling a certain way.

Sometimes I find myself taking part in a different kind of partner dance than the one with my significant other. I have this ongoing relationship with depression, and no matter how hard I try to break up with it, it just won’t leave me alone. My whole life I’ve spent the vast majority of my time blocking out the things that caused me heartache. My difficult relationship with not only my mother, but some of my cousins as well. Then I lost my dad. The man who seemingly knew the answer to it all. I can say today, that if my stepmom never put me in therapy, I couldn’t tell you where I would be. I’ve suffered from depression since I was a kid, and not just any old depression, but bi-polar depression. The kind that does not look like what you think. There’s a mania that drives you, whether you’re happy or sad. There’s an illogical sense of self, which desperately tries to ascertain peace in the most detrimental ways. A lot of people who knew me as a kid, really have no idea the things that have occurred in my life, or the driving force behind my decisions. I felt like if I kept it in, it would be easier to mask and hide from people. My life on the outside has always looked peachier than it really is on the inside. People would say I was really high energy and always bubbly, but they didn’t realize it was to keep them from knowing the pain and anger I had on the inside. That pain and anger was so consuming that by the time I hit my teenage years, I was so depressed that I didn’t care about my long term life goals. I was so consumed with depression that I hadn’t really set any. I remember not wanting to go to college and telling my mom over and over it wasn’t something I wanted to do, despite education being the foundation of life my dad was trying to build for me.

This dance with depression was so defeating that it felt like no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I shopped, had sex, made new friends, or kept to myself, it would not go away. I had boyfriend after boyfriend hoping it would make me feel better but it never did. It never made the pain go away. I bought item after item, no matter how expensive it was, and while temporarily I felt better, in the long run, I felt 20x worse. It’s this vicious cycle that just doesn’t go away. I danced my heart out in high school, trying to keep myself sane in a place that seemed inevitably miserable. Miserable because when I left the city, I felt like my life was literally ripped away from me. All of my family members lived there, all of my friends, my sense of self, independence and happiness, was all gone. I felt like I was stuck in this time warp where I had to keep reliving my dad’s death and it never got better. Every time I felt closer to normal and peaceful, I got pulled back to the rim of depression. There she was, pulling at me like gravity, waiting for me to fall and succumb to the depths of life’s despair.  Each and every time it got 10x worse. The hardest time of all was when I was 17 and I had to have an abortion. It was the end of the world. I felt like I was backed into the corner of the ring and there was nothing I could do to keep my hands up. No matter how hard I fought, it was just blow after blow. The most vicious trick my mind ever played on me was a visit I got from my dad at the time. He came to me in my dreams and he was there to hold my hand and make me feel better, but I woke up feeling 10x worse. I was early enough to take the pill and have the abortion happen at home. It was horrifying. After losing my dad, it is the worst thing I have ever experienced. My dad came to me in a dream a little bit after it happened and it sent me into a spiral. I literally wanted to die. I felt like the worst human being alive. Who was I that I got to decide who lived or died? Especially after losing my dad. I felt like it was the worst thing I had ever done, and all I wanted to do, was die. I wanted to be with my dad and have everything be normal again. I didn’t want to feel pain and I didn’t want to live. I tried to kill myself and I told only one friend at the time. He called my mom pretty much immediately and like the angel she is, she came rushing to my aid. Looking back at it now, I know I had so many more reasons to live and I’m so thankful for that friend, and my mom.

Obviously, after that I had no choice, but to get help and enter into therapy. My mom made it her mission to keep me off the rim of depression. She tried everything she could. I was put on medication to help even out my mood. I was eventually diagnosed with Cyclothymia, a mood disorder that if you let it go on unchecked, will turn into full blown bi-polar disorder. If you know me, then you know that I am one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. I spent a couple of years on medication and eventually decided, I hate it. I felt like if I was on medication that meant something was wrong with me, and I would essentially be broken for the rest of my life. I would have to spend the rest of my life taking medication to feel normal. Ironically enough, I felt everything but normal while I was on that medication. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I didn’t feel anything really. I was flat and empty. I was diagnosed my senior year of high school, so freshman and sophomore year of college I was still on medication. It got to be spring of sophomore year and I didn’t want to take it anymore. I wanted to feel excited, I wanted to feel exuberant and overjoyed, so I stopped taking my medicine. At the time it was quite complicated to get all of my medicines together any way. My mom had to get my prescriptions filled at home in NY then mail them to me at school in Virginia, and sometimes the schedules that my combination of medicines were on didn't match up because one needed an authorization and the other didn't. Which, lead me to be on one without the other for a few days at a time and it was so hard to have one without the other. I had one medicine that put me to sleep, and essentially made you feel like a groggy zombified version of yourself, the Seroquel - and the other, to wake you up and make you feel like a hyper overactive lab rat running on a hamster wheel at 100 mph, Concerta. When I decided to stop taking the Concerta because it altered my eating abilities, I failed all of my classes because I lost every single bit of motivation I had. I had still been on Seroquel, which made me sleep all day. I would sleep and miss classes, then wake up and feel horrible that I missed a class, get depressed about how awful I was doing, and never seek help, but simply just go back to sleep. I’d sought out human time by sitting in the JC and absorbing people’s energy to make myself feel more normal and whole again, but it never really worked. I think one of the things that really kept me sane and happy was babysitting my friend’s daughter. There was something about having her around that made it easier to want to live. She was so young and filled with so much joy that I literally threw myself at her parents to babysit for them. Through all of this darkness and all of the depression, I had a reason to be happy again. I was helping my friends, who were young parents, going through a hard time just trying to get their lives together and in order, while simultaneously helping myself keep a light around.

I love to help others and I love children. I’d rather listen to someone talk to me about all of their problems and offer them solutions, than to ever talk about mine. It makes me feel good to be able to motivate others to keep going, but I never thought about the importance of motivating myself. It took me years to realize that I am in charge of the motivating forces in my life.

Today, I am living. I am doing my best to live well and implement healthier habits. When things are tough, I actually open my mouth and speak. I owe so much to my siblings Danaye, Demitrius, and Pam, for always being so filled with light at this time. I’d never wanted to disappoint them, so I hid a lot of things from them, but they loved me just the same. They pushed me just the same. They helped alleviate my childhood sorrows and spoke so much light about the future. Not just mine, but their own. I wanted to grow to see my siblings succeed in life and I wanted them to see me succeed too. If I find myself sitting too close to the rim, I call my friends. It took me a long time to find friends who truly understand what it is that goes on for me, and not judge me for it. It took me years to finally break down the barriers between myself and the people I loved the most. I’ve spent the majority of my life hiding from the things that caused me pain. Pretending as if nothing bad really happened because I was so afraid of being emotionally vulnerable. I felt like it made me weaker and more susceptible to pain. Little did I know, it was the complete opposite. So today, I’m here to encourage you to be honest with your loved ones and with yourself. Don’t sit on the rim of depression with your feet dangling at the edge of despair. Life gets better. It goes on. It’s still hard and there will still be lessons thrown at you that you think you’ve already learned, or don’t need to learn in that way, but keep going. Keep breathing. Invest in your personal health, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Seek help when things are tough. You are not responsible for the weight of your world. Lighten your load if you can. Cut out toxicity. It’s so much easier said than done, but if you actively seek the things that are causing you trouble, and start to dissect it, you can slowly begin to feel your load lightening. It will get easier to breathe. There won’t be a stronghold of life that’s seemingly got its grasp around your neck. This year my goal is to live in a way that reflects the advice that I give to others. This week, I started purging, and I’m so excited to keep going. It seemed pointless at first, but when you get rid of the baggage and the unnecessary junk you have in your life, you make room for the abundance of blessings that the universe has in store for you. The universe is an incredible and magical force. She will see you through the trials and tragedies of life if you keep the will to hold on. Everything negative that has happened, truly has happened for a reason. Life lessons are there to make you stronger and prepare you for the ones that are even harder. Keep fighting. Keep holding on, and know that you are loved, not just by your family but by the universe too. She needs you, just as much as you need you. Depression is there to confuse you and make you believe things that are not true. Negative thoughts that derive from depression, will only serve as a means of misery. Misery loves company too, so be careful of who you put yourself around. Take a look at their life, see if it’s sound or if they’re moving along a sound path. If they aren’t, do yourself a favor and step away. Connect with the people in your life who have a light that you can see, and then make it your mission to connect with your own light.  Depression is such a hard battle, and know that you aren’t fighting it alone. No matter how hard it tries to convince you otherwise, you are not alone. I am here for you always. Even if we’re complete strangers. I’m praying for you, and asking the universe to see you through your battles, as well as take it easy on you.

You deserve a break.

With so much love and light,

Digital Dashh


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