Written by Samantha McDaniel
Slowly or as faster than a freight-train.
That’s how it seems to go. For me at least, depression has been a wild rollercoaster of an experience. I was ten years old when I met the demon that would change my life forever. The pain started out minimal. Depressive thoughts sought their way into my head one day at a time. At ten years old I had no idea what depression even was, let alone that I was battling it. As my mind became more and more darkened I started to believe that the darkness within my head was just normal and “who I was.” This thought process stuck with me as I entered my teenage years and it is probably one of the biggest reasons that depression held onto me as long as it did.
Tears hitting my homework paper as I kept my head tilted down as the teachers lectured.
Retreating to the bathroom stall at lunch because it was too hard to be around people. Exploding in my car as I drove home in the comfort of the dark night sky. Screaming in my empty house when I stayed home from school because the sadness was just too bad. That’s what depression was to me. It manifested itself in the quiet and the raging aspects of my emotional life. It latched onto me in the plain moments and the “supposed to be” happy moments. It had my soul, and I had no idea how much I wanted it back. Depression became who I thought I was. When I turned 16, depression latched on to me tighter than it ever had before. After 6 years of battling this demon, I believed it had become inherent to who I was.
Sadness became my happiness.
You may be asking yourself, “how is that possible?” Well, depression became my normal, and when it latched on so tight my 16th year I became numb. When that numbness hit me, I begged to feel anything because feeling something is so much better than feeling nothing. Sadness became my way of feeling. When tears streamed down my face I felt safe and normal and okay-I was FINALLY feeling SOMETHING, even if it wasn’t positive. I think that’s the scariest thing about depression. It can manifest itself in so many ways: extreme sadness, anger, tiredness, numbness, etc. However, depression is a demon that seeks the strongest prey. Those who battle this awful disease are so incredibly brave and strong, and if I would have known that my depression was not “normal,” it was not who I am, I may have defeated it much sooner. Nonetheless, in the end, I did defeat my demon and I know now that I am important enough and strong enough to defeat it in the future.
This is why it is so important to talk about mental illness.
The more we educate our youth, our parents, our schools, etc. about mental health, the more we will be able to help people beat this demon sooner. Depression is real, and it’s very alive, and it welcomed itself into my life without being invited. Yet, because of the help I finally made myself get I was able to overcome it, and still there are days where I feel I could slip back into it’s clenching grasp, but I now have the strength to know that I deserve to be happy. I deserve to feel. I deserve to be free of this demon’s fist. And I AM strong enough!
Photo by Maci Alf