My Journey with Depression and anxiety
Stage 1: It’s out
Masking: the art of pretending you’re something you’re not or that you feel a certain type of way when you actually don’t feel that way at all.
Depression is one of the worst feelings in the world. When you fall into depression, most of the time, the thoughts that rampage through your mind are not you: suicidal and degrading thoughts that push you over the edge.
I’ve been depressed and anxious since I was a child. I never was sure if I was really depressed, and I denied that anything was wrong with me for the longest time. It just became my normal to feel blue, disconnected, and unworthy at certain times of the month. I was great at hiding my depression, anxiety, and loneliness, with my initial silent manner, likeable personality, and big smile. Masking and bottling up toxic thoughts and habits was bound to burst out. This past month, my bottle burst. It was never that bad ever. Every month or so, since I can remember, I would always fall into deep depressions and feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness, but this past month has just been the worst.
It was the accumulation of masking, the art of pretending you’re something you’re not or that you feel a certain type of way when you actually don’t feel that way at all. It was the accumulation of trauma, experiences I never got closure from. It was the loss of identity and the yearning to be loved and to feel valuable to something or someone. I continued to live and breathe around people who hurt me, yet I had no way of escaping them. Another big factor that mixed with all these other factors was post-college. I was supposed to be someone great, someone successful, and when I was pushed to the edge, this post-college state worsened it. It brought me back to that negative place when I was younger, and confirmed “I’m not good enough.” I isolated myself from friends, groups, the community, and my family, because I did not feel good enough to be with anyone. I did not feel worthy enough to be part of anything. I did not even know who I was anymore. Going out with friends or family, knawing and painful words clawed up my throat. I swallow them and my spit washes them down for the moment. “I’m depressed.” “I don’t feel enough.” “I don’t feel worthy.” “I love people who hurt me.” “I’m helpless.” “I’m hopeless.” “Am I even important?” “I just want someone to love me.” “Why do I always have to be the one to give.” “I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely. I’m alone.”
The feeling of not being good enough, not living up to standards, and depression got me chasing love from people I shouldn’t associate with. And one day, this reason, chasing a toxic love, pushed me over the edge. I stayed there for a whole month. Constant negative thoughts I learned to cast out months ago started flooding back into my brain, my body, and spirit and thoughts took control of me.
I stayed away from sweets and alcohol for so long, but when those thoughts came back, I binged on both. One night, when my brother was having a party down stairs, I was feeling low, so I drank, shot after shot after shot with the the wives of my brother’s friends. I smiled, laughed, and enjoyed talking and drinking with them. I had a great time. No one noticed the negative thoughts clawing at me. I was so lonely, it felt good just to be around a pool of people. But, when I entered my room, my movements slowed, my mind calmed, all my emotions and pain poured out, making my body itch all over. I cried helplessly in silence. I felt a pain deep in my heart that I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hug, or comfort. I wanted to claw it out. I took the pencil from my pink coffee cup, and clawed into my skin. Slowly, very slowly. I was scared that it would hurt, but as I continued my skin numbed. I chose a place where I thought no one would see, on the top part of my right arm, close to my shoulders. I wanted to see my pain. I wanted to know it existed. This habit continued for the next two weeks or so.
For the next week, little things would set me off. One night, I came home from work, I was feeling that heavy pain in my heart, feeling alone. I went into my sister’s room, and hugged her while she was in bed. She pushed me away and yelled at me saying I was too close too her. my thoughts told me,“Nobody cares about me.”
Another night, my mind raced. I wanted to end my life, wanting to just be with God, because God seems to be the only one here for me. “Then why can’t I just be with you,” I cried. I thought about the cleanest way to die. I didn’t want to shoot myself because that would be traumatic to the person that found me, or take pills because again, someone would find me. I thought a bridge was the best way to go. I even looked through all my journals and letters to ensure I didn’t leave journal entries I didn’t want my family to read. But then, that night, someone messaged me, and said they missed me, and I honestly think that was the only reason I didn’t go through with it. My mood boosted just a little bit to not act on my thoughts.
That whole experience opened my eyes. I realized, I wanted to live. I realized, I am not supposed to be thinking about death at this age. I needed help. I needed help. I saw an ad online for counseling and I reached out to them to talk to a counselor. It felt a relief to just tell someone that I was not okay.
A few nights after that, I told my mom, which surprised me that she was okay with it.She suggested I make an appointment with the doctor. I then went to the clinic the next week, of course, that whole week was painful, going through ups and downs, suicidal thoughts, self-harming, and close encounters to ending my life. When that dreadful week ended and I finally met with the doctor, I cried and broke down to her out of nowhere. I just held it in for so long, it slipped out of me.
Anxiety, negative thoughts, and self-judgments flooded my mind every second for a month. I felt so alone, and helpless. But you know what really helped me through? Being with family and having meaningful conversations kept me a float. I believe love and support is the number one thing when you’re in a deep hole, because though you don’t want to keep trying or keep living, the people in your life are the ones that are going to pull you foward. I also believe talking through your feelings and getting support will really help. Writing helps me immensely to process my thoughts and emotions.
For 16 years I’ve learned the art of masking, but I’m just so tired of pretending I’m okay, I’m happy, and perfect. I am broken, sad, unhappy, and hopeless, but as I accept that I’m not perfect and know that I can’t do it alone, I feel resilient. What are the next steps I need to take to get better?
The first 3 steps.
- Have all the support and love
- Prioritize to minimize my anxiety
- Get professional help to get better.
This all means, PUT MYSELF FIRST. If I feel sad, I will allow myself to feel it. I always had the mindset that I can do things on my own and I can get better without anyone noticing a difference. I never wanted to impose on others, or make people worry about me. I always wanted people to be happy, but sometimes I do want people to worry about me just to know they care about me. I’m coming out to say I need help and I can’t do this alone, or I’m literally going to die.
Know you are not alone. If anything, I understand exactly where you’re coming from. And let it soak. After it soaks, say I need help. Get help and be around people who love you. If you feel like you have no one, please reach out to me. Reach out to a doctor. Your life matters.
I am in the process of getting help. I’m in the stage: It’s out. Now it’s time to heal.
❤ Wabi Sabi