Let the conversation begin.
Heartfelt gratitude to Daisy Mox, one of Hope Xchange's amazing youth bipolar mentors, for daring greatly and sharing her personal battle with depression and bipolar disorder, which started at the age of eight, and her words of encouragement for others who may be struggling.
Even Eight-Year Old Me Had a Rough Time
I don’t remember when I noticed it for the first time, but I know I was young. Some of my first memories consist of my wishing I was more excited about recess or birthday parties or, well, anything, really. Even eight year-old me had a rough time getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe, I thought, I’m just lazy.
They told me to talk episodically, but, neither do I like to think about it like that, nor do I think it’s the best way to address my situation. “Episode” sounds as though my actions aren’t my own. The term causes me to forget that when I’m high, when I’m low, or in any state, I’m still me. I will not credit the mood swings to some higher power or an inner demon. This is me. This is my brain chemistry. This is my body. This is me.
Because It Is Easier, I Allow Them To Believe It Is My Mother's Death that Causes My Existential Sadness
I think I’d like to go about this in a more general manner. Too many events in this life have brought me to my position today, and I’ve only got 800 words, my friends.
My dominating battle is currently depression. At 14, I watched my mother deteriorate in the bony hands of Melanoma, which is the world’s assumption as to the origin of this existential sadness. And, because it’s easier as humans to have a reason, I allow them to believe it.
But, as aforementioned, I’ve lived in this state for as long as I can remember.
The Sadness Physically Eats Me Up From the Inside Out
One of my lowest points occurred about three years ago. It wasn’t long after my mother had died, my father moved into our house, and I took on more and more of my mother’s former responsibilities. The stress was heavy and my father’s emotional abuse only added a larger weight.
There weren’t enough hours in the day, so I created more by cutting back on sleep. I remember several trips to the gas station for caffeine. Despite the late hours, I wasn’t eating the amount of which I should have. My appetite had all but diminished, even though my exercise far outweighed the calories available to burn.
The sadness was physically eating me up from the inside out. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t. I hurt myself -- in any way possible -- trying everything. I remember drinking too much a few too many nights. I remember lighting matches to my wrist. I remember running until I hurt on the outside more than the inside.
I Understand Now What Pushes People to the Edge
I don’t remember the minute details leading up to my hospitalization, but I do remember talking to my therapist on the day they sent me.
There is nothing. There is nothing left. There is no point.
I’ve always been sad, but I never understood what pushed people to the edge. I never understood what they had to feel.
I understand now.
With that, she sent me to the hospital.
It Is Ok to Take Sick Days for Mental Health
I characterize this as my lowest point because it took me 12 long months to admit to myself that I wasn’t okay.
I’m still not okay three years later, but I can address it now.
There’s much more to my personal story past that moment, but we won’t get into that this time. After my hospitalization, I focused on myself, slowed down, and finally mourned my mother’s death.
In that time, I really did get better. I learned about self care, how to handle myself in anxiety-provoking situations, how to relax, and the importance of overall physical health.
Would You Blame Yourself If Pain From Tumor Prevented You From Participating in Certain Daily Activities?
I won’t say it gets better. I’m not sure it does, yet. I’m realizing sometimes my body stops functioning and that it’s okay to take sick days for mental health.
The best words I’ve ever heard compare cancer to mental illness and ask, “Would you blame yourself if the pain from a tumor prevented you from participating in certain daily activities?”
As for the present, I try to take a bath and go on walks every once in awhile. It’s my version of self care. I try to find new reasons to stay every day. And, my boyfriend Jay reminds me of them on every bad day.
Then, there are the good days and they are worth it. If nothing else, my friends, please stay for the good days.