Updated: Nov 15, 2019
It's hard to tell, through social media posts, whether or not someone is truly OK. These spaces are designed as highlight reels of our lives, so it is natural that the 'lowlights' would not be promoted quite as much. For me, I believe I am protecting everyone else from my misery and also protecting myself from feeling worse about myself.
October was mental health awareness month, and wouldn’t you know it, I suffered a depressive episode that same month. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager—so over two decades. Only in the last few years have I been able to acknowledge this as the case, once I identified certain patterns. The anxiety is a daily issue; the depression is cyclical and the winter months are the worse.
I recognize the signs of my depression through:
•lack of attention to hygiene and things that usually make me feel good (showers, washing my hair)
•being easily angered
•inability to sleep
•feeling overwhelmed and having suicidal thoughts
I’m thankful to have a partner that also recognizes these symptoms. As I began to explain to her that I didn’t know what was happening to me and that I didn’t feel like myself, she suggested I see my GP. I did and the floodgates opened whilst I was there. I’m fortunate to have a woman of colour be my GP for the last 7 years, and she was very gentle with me. She signed me off work for 2 weeks.
I felt both relieved and guilty. What about all my responsibilities? People are depending on me. What will people say? These were my initial paranoid thoughts, which I have come to partly see as narcissistic. We’re all special but the world will also tick in without us. And in the case where we are truly the only ones, people are usually gracious and willing to wait a little longer.
After about 10 days of slowing myself down, focusing less on media, listening to my body’s energy cues, and getting adequate sleep, I began to feel the cloud lifting. I began thinking about how less alien by body felt to me. That’s how I knew I was turning a corner.
I have shared my own recent journey to remind you that you are the only one responsible for taking care of yourself. We’re not magical renewable resources. Wellness is deliberate, and it takes time and attention. Make sure to give yourself time and patience.