One thing people don’t often openly talk about is mental health, especially for those who are victims of a debilitating illness.
Behind the façade of style and creativity, I’m actually one of those who is ill.
I suffer from high-functioning depression and anxiety for well over 7 years. Through it all, I was frequently misunderstood for my inability to cope well with life pressures and what not--- thus the origin of initially naming this blog, ‘Miss Understood’ several years ago. It was so common for me to be publicly seen and judged for breaking down and crying nonstop. It was peculiar to others to see me marching through the hallways, eyes reddened by frustration and face soaked with tears. People were often overwhelmed when I exploded out of range or when I become disturbingly low and saddened. Even a simple task of taking a major exam, I’d be trembling for fear of failure or hyperventilating due to panic. Romantic relationships proved to be more difficult as previous partners failed to accept that inside of me, deep down, I’m actually broken.
My oddity was always perceived as weakness when conflict arises among peers. My mental health always proved to be a barrier in many of the goals I planned to achieve for myself. You see, the thing about depression that most people can’t comprehend is that it so easily pins you down whenever some unfortunate circumstance happens. When you do get bogged down by it, the effort to rise above is tremendous and that in itself, is an understatement. Suppose you compare it to the story of Sisyphus in Greek mythology; when he was punished by Hades to carry the full weight of a heavy boulder, to painstakingly roll it up the hill, and only to have it roll down again once Sisyphus reaches the top. That’s how depression is most of the time, it beats you down and you fight your illness to overcome it--- because honestly who wouldn’t want to be bigger than their demons --- yet at that moment you thought you were fine and stable, you come rolling down the hill again just like Sisyphus, with the burden of the boulder, or even heavier.
I’m sharing this, not to draw attention to myself--- God knows that’s the LAST THING I’d ask for ---but to use my voice to reach out to those suffering the same fate, because I know how it feels not be listened to, how it is to be dismissed for hurting, how it hurts to cry out for help, how emotions cause you to shut down and how darkness can consume you for fighting a battle too long. I’m writing this to let you, dear readers, know that in the midst of the grim pain, I understand wholely.
When you are surrounded by negativity from those who aren’t able to understand, I hope it gives you comfort to know that you’re not alone and that we face this battle together. You’re not being overlying dramatic nor are your struggles invalid.
When all proves to be too much, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay not to understand everything all at once. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to prioritize yourself and your health. It’s okay to seek help, both from loved ones and professionals. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay. I pray you won’t punish yourself for being unable to cope.
When you come across a defeat in life, slowly and gradually learn to accept, take a step back, reset yourself and find the courage to start again. Be humble enough to trust in the process and know that you’re allowed to take as much time as you possibly need in doing so.
When everything seems too impossible to bear on your own, let me tell you that support and comfort will be given. There will be someone who will listen to you and empathize with you. There will be people who will open up about their battles and understand your journey just the same. There will be people who will express their care and concern for you. There will be those who will simply accompany you during your dark and difficult days just to let you know that they’re there for you. There will be those who will get through a seemingly unbearable day with you and literally help you function if need be. There will be those who will remind you of what it means to live again. There will be those who will be more than willing to help carry the burden with you. There will be people who will stay. There will be people who will go through the ends of this dire world, just to make you feel safe and sound. Most importantly, there will be brighter days ahead of us.
At present, there is no single, end-all-be-all solution to healing. Medicine is key, although other steps should be taken to heal, as depression is a highly complex disease with multiple factors. I pray you uncover those other steps in helping you recover--- something that will revive your spirits, sanity maintenance, as my Papa would say. Personally, my sanity maintenance is through catharsis, where I exhaust all the emotional burdens into creating art, whatever form it may be. I dance to let movement lift my spirits. I sing for the melody to soothe the sorrows. I draw to release whatever deep-setted sadness that has been inculcated in me. I capture mundanity through photography. In doing so, I learned that I’m accountable for my sanity. It means it’s a responsibiity to myself and my well being, to allow myself time to recuperate. Sometimes, when I fail to be grounded and experience an episode, it’s because I failed to allow myself time for sanity maintenance, and thus pushed myself too far, beyond the capacity of my mental health. Learn from my mistake. Seek and pursue your own healing, too.
To end this entry, I pray we find hope in believing that we’re not less worthy as persons just because we’re ill.
Hang on, dear reader.
Thank you for reading! If you like this entry, please do give it a thumbs up and hit the Like button. It would mean a lot!