On all depressive states, I'm no expert. My story begins 6 years ago, I was a soon-to-be second semester freshman who used winter break as a shield from others, reality, and myself. I ate one meal in a 1-2 day span, I slept more than 12 hours, and showering happened even less. 3 weeks of winter break spent in bed, crying, and hating myself... Crazy part is that this was just the beginning. This dark time was a response to heartbreak.
My deep depressive state felt like walking in a fog that stretches as far as my eyes can see over cobblestones that have everything I hate about myself written on each one. A fog that covers the positivity that is closer than an arm's reach away. Worst part, everyone around me seems to be oblivious and evade this creepy stagnant fog that engulfs every aspect of my being. “How did I get here?” - is a tough question to ask yourself, when you have simply been reacting to life, not living it. At 18, I had no idea of my self-worth and was looking for love – everywhere but within myself. Going to college because my mother wouldn’t ever support my dreams without this degree. No sense of self because I spent 18 years thinking far too much and too long on what everyone else wants and needs from me. Ruminating on all the negative reasons why no one loves me unconditionally. Overindulging in alcohol to be accepted and to feel alive, to not think about or feel my desperation. Internalizing the idea that "God is punishing me for who I am and the many sins I've committed...I'm not meant to be happy."
I felt profoundly alone. I was not profoundly alone, you might not be either, but I did not want to run the risk of expressing my darkest inner-most thoughts. In American society, being strong and cool is praised more than emotional honesty and vulnerability. If you are pretty, educated, and not orphaned, what do you really have to cry about. I hid because my being and my emotions were not worthy, I invalidated myself. When I went through the initial phase of my depressive state, I had one person who knew what was going on. She was going through her own issues. Her effort to fill me with positivity, and my dry reception, contributed to our friendship being brief. She may never know, but her efforts were not in vain. Depression can steal one’s ability to receive positivity because the negative voices are screaming non-stop. Although the effort of people on the outside may have seemed unsuccessful or unappreciated, I know personally that it was appreciated.Depression feeds off of negative thoughts, memories, words, sounds, anything – like “failed and failing” friendships and relationships. Depression adapts. I watched my life with an intense focus on my perceived inadequacies. We all have a laundry list of issues, and I looked at my list every day. The worse issue - I abused myself. I abused Jessie until she decided Death was easier than Life. Depression is a fog that coaxes many to the edge of the cliff praying that when it is all over the fog will finally disappear. If you are like me, before you are to kiss Death your whole family appears next to you – reminding you of your duty and ties to the living World. It jolts you to Life. No matter how you get to this point, nor how often, you feel you have hit rock bottom. I hit the bottom so many times, I could only look up.
Hard Truth: Recovery is an uphill battle.
I was still committed to getting better, no matter how much self-sabotaging went on. The biggest realization during my depressive recovery was that fear had been leading the show of my life since I was about 4 years old. I started going to creative arts/family therapy when I was around 12 or 13 years old, and I say this because therapy is not a quick fix for all mental health issues. I needed to be more holistic and creative with my therapy. I found a church that reminds me that no sin is worse than the other, that helps me embrace that I am lovable.As a multi-ethnic Black womXn from the Bronx, I found the NYU Global campus overwhelming. I was not alone, but I suffered alone - even with a lovely partner and sincere friends. I resented everyone around me. I resented myself the most. I hid most of my 4 years of college, just so I could get to graduation with no plan. After graduating, I was forced into a stillness that helped me to expand my understanding and perceptions of everything happening inside and around me.
After two years of searching for myself, I learned I was not only depressed, but I had anxiety issues, suicidal ideation, and fell on the borderline personality disorder spectrum. I was blessed to be supported and got intensive therapy. The biggest thing I took away from intensive therapy was that therapy practices need to happen everywhere you go. Therapy is everyday I wake up. Meditation, non-stop prayer to the God/Goddess within and around me, journaling, reading, exercise, sharing love, accepting love, and other self-love/spiritual practices. We are all looking for a safe space, and many do not even know that that exists. I find comfort in realizing that therapy can happen outside of a therapist’s office, and a safe space is everywhere I go with the intention to accept myself and others 100%. We all carry a safe space within us. At times, we need it for only our true Self, and sometimes for other beings to meet their Self. So we know we aren't alone. For me, therapy is a mirror for me to see, question, console, trust, and accept myself.
My depressive state is mine and each individual’s experience is uniquely theirs. However, isolation and judgment are all of our enemies. Seek to adopt an open-mind as recovery looks different for everyone. Dedicate your effort to accept, trust, and love yourself – any little bit of positivity will help to begin your fight if you struggle with depression. I challenge you to face a mirror, eye contact, and tell yourself, "I am acceptable as I am. I love you."