I have mentioned it before, but I don't make New Year's resolutions. Instead, I just try to do the best I can with what I'm given each day, and I work hard to enjoy the journey. I recently amended this a bit, and decided that I can set a credo for the year, one that can help influence the decisions I make along the way. I'm starting this year, and have stated that 2013 will be the year that I am brave. I have some ideas about what that looks like, and have started work on some things that will take bravery to finish. Right now, though, I'm going to start by being brave enough to speak some truths.
I suffer from depression and anxiety, and thanks to Seasonal Affective Disorder, I'm always worse in the winter. And folks, I suffer. While there will always be some harsh perspective as to what suffering really looks like, I'm not going to apologize for my use of the word. I suffer.
This winter has been especially bad, in large part because it will not end. For me, it means more mornings spent laying in bed, talking myself into getting up. It means more out of the blue crying jags. It means a lot less motivation, and a whole lot more don't-give-a-damns. It means notes everywhere, reminding me to get the mail, pay the bills, complete tasks x, y, and z, because I can't keep a thought in my head. I'm often distracted and aimless, followed by long periods of worry and anxiety, because I don't know what I've forgotten, but I'm sure it was something important, and because it was important -- I'm sure of it -- I spend a lot of time feeling guilty and shaken. Some part of my body always hurts because mental and physical are so closely linked. I feel more or less constantly bad about myself. I eat too much, sleep too much (or not at all), take my Effexor and slog through every day. These issues/symptoms will be lessened when there is more sunshine than not, but they will not go away entirely, and they have been part of my personality make-up for as long as I can remember.
I'm not looking for sympathy here; I'm really not. I just want to talk about what is going in my world, and have it be okay. Because you know what? It should be okay. Depression is still so stigmatized. I work in an office of all women, and I can almost guarantee that there isn't anything they haven't discussed. They are all intimately acquainted with each other's relationships, families, activities, hobbies, goals, health issues, menstrual cycles, whatever. But depression and anxiety come up, and you should see them squirm. They talk about everything. Everything but that. No one wants to admit they struggle with depression; no one wants to own up to anxiety attacks; no one wants to admit to being medicated. I'm tired of that. It's happening, and it's happening far more often than we know, because no one is talking about it. I don't want to diminish anything that men go through, but I think it is especially challenging for women to own this and talk about it. Women are really critical of other women, so we all think we have to be amazing at everything, everywhere, always, and never show a weakness. Ladies, I'm calling bull. Enough of this. We owe it to ourselves as the amazing creatures we are to take care of ourselves, and that includes our mental health. Admitting that you need help is not a weakness. Getting medication, if you need it, is a sign of strength -- you're being strong for yourself. We should be willing to talk each other through these things; not shift our eyes and stare at the ground when someone brings it up. Because owning this should be okay.
I'm owning it. I'm not crazy. I'm not less of a person. I'm not weak, I'm not damaged, I'm not less than. Taking a daily depression med means nothing more than that I take a pill everyday. It doesn't change who I am as a person -- but it certainly means that I can function more like one. I will never "snap out of this," because that's not how this works and I can't. I cannot. And that is also okay. I have to take mental inventory regularly to see and recognize triggers, but I can do that. Sometimes, the more important thing for me to do will be to read a book than to do the dishes, and I'm okay with that, too. This person, the one who gets depressed and anxious, is who I am, and it's okay. I'm okay.
If any of this sounds familiar, I want you to know that you're okay, too. If right now you don't feel okay, figure out what you need to get there. Don't let anyone diminish what you're going through. Don't let anyone tell you to snap out it, or to just get happy, or to get over it. Figure out what YOU need. You're stronger than you think, and you can do it. You can do it. Don't be scared; you're worth it. You're worth it. Be brave and get okay.