For many of us who suffer from depression, we have no “real reason” to be depressed. We’re not living in poverty, our homes may not be broken and we have a world of opportunities at our fingertips. So why are we still depressed?
Because depression isn’t that simple. It doesn’t discriminate between those who “have it easy” and those who don’t have much at all. Depression doesn’t care if you’re young or old, single or married or even whether you’re wealthy or poor. Depression affects all types of people…even the people who shouldn’t be depressed at all.
Growing up, I had what many would call an “easy” life. My parents were happily married, we lived in a nice house in a small town in New Jersey and we never really struggled with money. My parents loved me and supported me in everything I did, and they always had my best interest at heart. Even after moving to Florida, my parents were determined to do whatever they could to make the transition easy for me. They did meticulous research on the schools, and when I had a hard time getting ready for the science fair, my mom called my teacher and asked for extra help. When I look at it that way, I had no real reason to be depressed.
And truth be told, I still don’t. Even though my family lives a thousand miles away in Minnesota, they’re still looking out for me. I have an amazing boyfriend who loves me, supports me and takes care of me when I need a little extra help. I have the absolute best job in the entire world, and I leave work every day excited for what tomorrow will bring. My coworkers and bosses are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and they’re like family to me.
Despite all of these things, I still suffer from depression. After moving to Florida, I was bullied constantly by kids in school for being “ugly,” “the new girl” and “a lesbian” (I wasn’t a lesbian, but they called me one anyway). In high school, I was bullied for being different – for wearing dark makeup, dying my hair black, for cutting myself and for listening to hard rock and death metal. After a failed suicide attempt and realizing that my life was worth living, I was determined to leave my “old life” behind.
Seven years have gone by since then, and I still haven’t found a way to move forward. Despite my attempts to live a normal and happy life, I still find myself going through periods of depression or having anxiety attacks at the most inconvenient times (like when I’m in Boston with all of my coworkers. That was lovely). There are times when I tell myself that I’m okay and that depression, anxiety and self-injury no longer define me. But I know that’s not entirely true.
Although they may not define me anymore, they’re still with me. And they always will be…because that’s just how mental illness works. It creeps up on you when you think you’re all better and when you have everything in the world to be thankful for. It doesn’t always make sense, and it’s not always fair, but it’s life.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my 12-year battle with mental illness and self-injury, it’s that we cannot overcome our battles alone. No matter how strong you may be, you need other people. It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay, and it’s okay to ask for help. Hope is real, and recovery is possible. You are never ever alone.