So, I was asked to describe what depression is like for me. I came up with this testimony kind of description that I couldn't believe. I have never summed it up quite right, until now. I figured I would share it on here since it is no secret that I struggle with this.
I get it all the time. "You're so positive." "You're always smiling and laughing." "You're a bright person, Marina." Beneath the positivity and optimism, there is more to me than people realize.
I work in Recruitment for a Campus Activities Board and teach a program about the bystander invention for counseling services. To put on social events and invite people to our board requires a welcoming, kind, and outgoing personality. Not only that, my desk is in an office that can flood with so many people either hanging out to eat, talk, or do homework; or people come in and out to speak with the coordinators and directors that work within the office. I'm socializing when I sit at my desk (which is usually 5+ hours in the day) and then go to classes that requires group discussions and student participation (more socializing). For someone with anxiety and depression, this takes a toll mentally, physically, and emotionally.
After my good and busy days, I seem to lose my spirit in the following days after. My smiles feel like impostors and they lack a genuine response. Some days, my body throws itself on autopilot and my movements are not of my own. I'm numb to everything but the fatigue that smothers my body. It is as if I try to make the day something good in the morning, but then by the afternoon, my attempts are useless because of the ever growing darkness that is building within me and anxious to take over. My eyes seem heavy with not only fatigue, but with the ache to cry tears that threaten to fall. And most of the time, the tears are triggered by pent up exhaustion, a little bit of frustration, a life setback, or because the negative voices in my mind are getting to me.
I have negative voices that tell me I'm a lousy college student. If I get behind on work, they make me feel like I should give up because I can't seem to work at the same pace as everyone else in class can. They tell me that no one really likes or cares me. Behind a text message from me are hundreds of worried thoughts and “what ifs.” I worry about coming off too strong, too weak, too emotional, and too pathetic. They stop me from enjoying everything, including myself. A compliment on my work, my actions, my looks; anything that is praise towards me is never truly believed because the voices believe them to be wrong. It is a battle within my mind that I fight everyday, and sometimes I come out victorious but other days I do not have the strength to repress that darkness.
My life and schedule revolves around it. I tend to take shelter in my room when the darkness is too much. I lay in bed and curl up with a blanket to release my tears and shut out the world. I never used to nap much when I was younger, but as I’m going through the battles in my mind and in life, I find myself needing a nap to reset my circuits. Seeing my counselor at the university has helped me counter the voices and calm my anxiety. She has introduced me to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to break down traumatic events within my life and make them smaller, almost meaningless. Doing this assists my mind in processing, letting go of the things that fuel the negative voices. I also follow the “Heart of a Leader” lifestyle that reminds me that “energy is everything.” Your life is about how you show up to it. It’s about changing your story when it turns for the worst. It’s about holding yourself accountable and to see every challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
It is a day-by-day kind of living with depression and anxiety, but with the right kind of support system, it is manageable. I take the little things like getting out of bed and dressing myself as accomplishments, because they mean that I am choosing to live. Despite the weight that I carry, I choose to put one foot in front of the other and go about my days.
I did not totally address the anxiety part of me and how I came to have depression and anxiety, but I figured that that would be a whole other post. But this is most of it. This is what it feels like to live with this mental illness. I hope this sheds some light for people, maybe make a testimony of their own.
As always, much love,
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