Depression hits you when you least expect it. It doesn’t stop to think about the things you have going on in your life, or how it has the possibility to ruin everything around you. When it decides to hit, it comes in swinging with full force.
Depression is a word that gets used a lot by people who may not actually be experiencing it. According to The American Psychiatric Association, one must experience the symptoms of depression for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to, “feeling sad or having a depressed mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite – weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, increase in purposeless physical activity or slowed movements and speech, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions and thoughts of death or suicide.”
The thing about depression, though, is it makes you believe that you are the only one dealing with this awful disease when in reality depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults in any given year.
I have spent three summers in Ruston. Each summer has been an experience of it’s own. I usually end up working my ass off only to not have any money after paying bills and this summer was no different. The thing that separates this summer from the previous two is that I lost a part of me. I have said this before, and I will say it again, but my boyfriend broke up with me on June 2. The summer was just beginning and I had so many cool things planned for us to do since I would have more free time to spend with him. That didn’t happen. I wish I could say I was completely shocked, but I wasn’t. In the back of my mind I knew it was going to happen, but that doesn’t mean it still didn’t hurt.
After losing someone who I had invested so much into for the last two years, I felt lost. I felt like a part of me was missing and I had no idea how to get that back. I started going to the gym more and that only helped a little bit. I went on dates with really nice guys who were interested in me, but I had no real desire to get to know anyone else.
I spent two months wondering if he was saying things about me to our mutual friends. I spent two months wondering if the next girl he dates is going to be skinnier or prettier than me. I spent two months wondering if he stayed up at night thinking about me the way I was thinking about him.
I didn’t want to hang out with new people. I had to force myself to write, which is something that normally comes naturally. I was sleeping a lot more than I have in the last five years, and I felt like shit. I felt like I had no purpose or no meaning. Now, I’m not saying that I put all of my worth and meaning into our relationship, but I will admit that I did put a lot of myself in there.
I was depressed. I had been here before, and I knew the symptoms and for a while I welcomed it with open arms. It was kind of comforting to know that I was allowed to be sad after a breakup. Two months of it gets a little old, though.
Last week I was talking, well crying, on the phone with my mom about my finances. I was telling her that I feel like I am never going to get ahead in life no matter how much I try. I went on and on about how it’s not fair and I just wish that things would go my way. She did what any good mom would do and she listened to me complain about my problems and when I was done she told me she was going to tell me something that I didn’t want to hear.
She told me, “You are always going to struggle. Life isn’t life without the struggle, but these times are going to make you appreciate life so much more. You need to quit feeling sorry for yourself… You need to get up, go out and have fun with your girls and live your damn life. Stop being sad over a boy who probably isn’t sad over you.”
She went on to say a few more things that I have heard before, but for some reason, this time they stuck with me.
She was right. I was feeling sorry for myself. I know I don’t have any power over when my depression will come, but what I do have power over is how I am going to let it affect me.
I spent two months sad because a boy didn’t want to be with me. Big deal. I don’t want to get married and be tied down, so why be sad over something that I actually want. I want freedom. I want the chance to do what makes me happy and only worry about how it will affect my dog.
I want to move out of Louisiana and not worry about whether or not someone else wants me to move there. I want to be confident in myself because I love me, not because some boy thinks I am cute.
These are all things that I can obtain if I stop letting the negative thoughts infiltrate my mind. No one has control over my thoughts except me. It’s time to start thinking positive.
I’ve recently recommitted myself to living my best and healthiest life. My best friend and I have started working out together and holding each other accountable, all while lifting each other up. I’ve started meditating first thing in the morning and the last thing I do before bed. I’ve started to become more mindful of the thoughts that I let consume me. I have decided to be happy instead of sad.
I know depression is hard. I know it’s hard to feel like you have a purpose when everything in you is telling you that you don’t. I’m here to say it gets better. It won’t happen over night, and it won’t be an easy journey, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We, as humans, are a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for. If you can find the strength to get out of bed on your darkest day, then you have the strength to beat depression.
I wish I had all the answers and I wish I were able to say that I will never experience depression again, but I can’t. What I can do is reclaim the time that I spent wallowing in self-despair. I can make conscious efforts to take care of my body and treat it the way it deserves. I can be happy again. I can, and will, live my best life because I am in control of my happiness and future.