Photo by Lanli Su

It’s hard to write about depression. Owning it seems a lot easier come to think of it.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses present in our culture, affecting more than 16 million Americans each year. I was one of that 16 million.

It takes a lot out of me to share even part of my story, but I imagine that it’s just as much for you to absorb. I think that we can all admit that if given the choice, we would rather turn the page. Do you ever notice that how we have a hard time digesting what’s real? It somehow finds its way out of our minds, because we’re too afraid to feel, too afraid to connect to something that could very much be true. Maybe most of us are too afraid to feel something so deep. Maybe it’s a way of keeping ourselves safe.

It got to the point where all I did was sleep.

My days would start past noon, and I’d be so angry at myself for wasting yet another day. Instead of getting out of bed, I would hide my face underneath the covers, crying myself to sleep. Again.

You see, I was in an abusive relationship. And anyone who has ever experienced one knows of the seemingly unbreakable bond you build with fear—the fear of abandonment and the fear of embarrassment. You befriend your shame, and you spend so much time with your hopelessness. You forget about yourself, and you no longer put yourself first. It becomes you first, me second. You first, me second.

I remember scrolling my feed. I needed someone to talk to, but it couldn’t be my sister. I couldn’t mirror her strength. It couldn’t be a girlfriend. The shame would reap out of me, and I’d be completely exposed. Nakedness doesn’t feel as free when you’re not doing so well. I had to reach out to a guy, a guy who I felt would understand. One that wouldn’t judge. I needed nurture from all the lack that was felt in my past relationship. You seek nurture when you’re lonely when you’re sad. It’s still too cloudy to find that nurture within yourself, so you find it with someone else. You know, when you’re not too busy sulking in our own, sabotage thoughts. But that kind of nurture only works temporarily.

Anyway, he told me to hug my dog. Squeeze her tight and to just fall asleep. That it would all be okay.

It wasn’t okay. I didn’t find myself improving. I was making people angry, irritated, and it didn’t take much for me to realize that. It was obvious through their absence, let alone mine. You can’t depend on others to have the capacity to carry your struggles. You can’t unpack your suitcase onto someone else. The suitcase contains your stuff, not theirs.

I had so many opportunities to just tell people the truth, to tell them that I was in a toxic relationship. That all of the tumult, violence, the accumulation of stress and anxiety, all of it had collapsed. Your mind, your body, your spirit, all of it collapses.

Your words start to taste like depression, your thoughts start to wreak depression, and your body, the drastic weight loss, maybe even the drastic weight gain, all of that shows depression. Sometimes you could even get to the point of harming yourself. Those conversations you have with yourself, the conversations that no one dares to talk about, those conversations are real. And that’s when you’ve finally reached your lowest point.

But, there is beauty behind all of this, through all of this, and after all of this. Truly, there is so much beauty, beauty contained with strength and of newfound health.

It happens at a different time for everyone, but something inside of you will eventually have enough. It will ask you to be kind again. It will signal you to stop. Search for that signal. Sense it, then follow it with everything you’ve got. You will reach your breakthrough.

I’m almost done cleaning up the mess inside me. Sure, I get flashbacks. Yes, I still find myself revisiting that part of me. But all of the leaves and sticks that were once blown all over the place are now in a much neater pile. A special thank you to those who have helped me, motivated me, and encouraged me along my way.

You are a multiverse. Bright, yellow, green. Light, love, passion. You are all of those. Dark, blue, gray. You are all of those, too. Changing, always changing. Never a victim, always victorious.

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture, and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.