a blog about depression, anxiety, and writing
I haven't written in a while. Life has been hard, and my depression and anxiety make it really difficult to do anything. Every thing feels like a chore - even 'simple' things like brushing my teeth and showering and going to bed (even though I'm constantly exhausted from fighting every second of every day!) are so hard to do. But I do them because I have to. I do them because if I don't the demons living inside my head will grow. They'll get harder to fight. And they may even win. But I can't let them win, so I get up every day (even though it takes more energy than I have to get out of bed) and I take my meds and do my best to give all I can for that particular day. I am learning that I can't give 100% every day. However, I can give 100% of the 30% I may have to give that day. This is a hard thing for me to learn because I grew up trying to be perfect. But being a perfectionist hurt me more than helped. It took me a long time to get to where I am today - where my best is actually still winning; my best is okay. My best is good. My best is all I can give and that is okay! I'll write more on this another time, but I still struggle with perfectionism. And I have to be consciously aware of my every thought (for many reasons, but one of which is perfectionism). There are moments each day that my best doesn't feel like it is okay. Last night, I sat in my bed crying and telling myself I was a failure. That I fail everything. That I never seem to be able to 'succeed.' That I can't do anything right. Thing is, this was all triggered because I made a sort of promise to myself that I would go to bed earlier. And I failed... that is, I didn't take my medicines even close to when I told myself I needed to, I didn't get into my bed until much later than I 'should' have, I didn't fall asleep until way later than I needed to. I tried so hard. I tried to get off the couch. I tried to move my body. I tried to activate my limbs; I tried to get my brains to send the signals to my body that it could, and needed to, move. I tried so hard, but I couldn't move. At least, not then. Eventually, I moved. Eventually, my brain listened to me and sent those signals to my body. Eventually, I sat up, stood up, walked to turn the lights off and check the door (again), and went into my bedroom. I sat on the bed, and I cried. I realize now that even though I didn't meet my expectations, even though I have been trying to succeed for a while now I still didn't fail. I may not have 'succeeded' in the exact thing I wanted to, but I still won.
It just feels like I am drowning. Drowning in life. Drowning in depression. Drowning in panic and anxiety. Drowning in responsibilities, and essays and repressed emotions. Drowning in pain. And drowning in every possible negative emotion flooding me all at once, but I can't feel a single damn thing.
But I feel everything.
All. The. Time.
I've been experimenting with other ways of coping and getting out all my bottled up feelings. Lately, I've noticed that I have so many emotions that I've been keeping inside and it hurts so much. More and more every day (more and more every hour, really). I think I went from feeling too much to feeling numb to knowing I feel too much but am unable to cry as much as I need to (because I do cry- but the level of crying I need to do to get the feelings out is really painful, but also really helpful, but hard to get myself to do). As I'm trying to figure out how to release even some of my feelings, I figured I'd try other coping techniques to get me by until I really can release months of pent up emotions. I hate holding things inside, but life has been really hard lately and my automatic, subconscious reaction has been to repress my feelings. This painting is one way I tried showing/releasing some of my feelings this morning.
Over the summer, I started to write and draw on notecards as a way to sort of express my feelings and get the thoughts trapped in my head out. I just needed a new way to cope with all the things going on in my life and with all of the overly intense emotions shattering me. I thought I'd share some of the notecards I made. I'm not the best drawer, but as I was making them I realized it didn't really matter so much how good they were, but that they were accurate representations of the feelings I was bottling up inside.
My first notecard says: "My Depression Is..."
I'll post more notecards that show me trying to understand what my depression is. But, what would you say your depression, or any mental illness, is for you?
I realized that it may not be just one thing and it may change overtime, but it helped me to try to understand what it was for me at that particular moment.
Everyday is this battle. And I'm tired. All the time. I wake up exhausted. Sometimes, because I can't seem to escape my demons even in my dreams; other times, because as soon as I start to wake up I am all too aware of the fact that I have yet another day ahead of me. You see, it's hard for me to have hope that today is going to be a good day when I haven't had a good day in such a long time - I can't even remember the last "good" day I had. Hell, I can't even remember the last time I was truly (or even sort of, kind of) "happy".
And so, I wake up already tired, but knowing that I have to fight through this day; knowing that I need to function as much as I possibly can, knowing I need to try my hardest not to give in to the urges, the desires, the wants, the needs, the lies that depression and anxiety implanted in my head over 10 years ago. I am exhausted from fighting to stay alive everyday; from surviving, enduring, breathing, socializing, functioning... I am tired. I am tired when I go to bed at night, and yet that doesn't always mean I'll be able to fall asleep easily or sleep soundly.
But I have to keep fighting. And I will. I'll put on my "happy mask" when I walk out the door in the morning and, as much as that sucks, I'll do it anyway.
Everyday is a battle. And, as the years go by, it gets harder to fight; but I will, and I have to. I'll endure. I'll survive. I'll fight. But it's hard, there's no doubt about it.
But we have to keep fighting, even when fighting is waking up each morning; even when our biggest accomplishment that day is taking a shower and eating some food. Because, for me, those things can be really difficult.
Depression, anxiety, mental illness - they make us fighters, survivors, strugglers, warriors. Even though it doesn't usually feel that way.
Depression is hard (and that's an understatement). And, for me, sometimes it's made harder when the physical outside world looks the exact opposite of how I feel. Sometimes, I actually feel worse when the sky has zero fucking clouds in it. That crystal blue untarnished canvas can be infuriating, confusing, painful, alienating, dark, invalidating, and so much more.
I dislike when people point out to me how gorgeous the day is, or how pretty a landscape or a view is. I feel so much pain and loneliness when the people who know (and the people who don’t know) I suffer from sever depression ask me: “How could you not be happy or feel good on a day like this?” or “How could this weather or that view not make you feel just a little bit better?”
But they don’t want an answer.
So I just smile, look down at my feet, and nod.
I hold my breath, catch the words inching up my throat just before they find their way to my padlocked voice box, and I clench my jaw.
Each time this happens (and trust me, it happens quite often) I find that I get this throbbing ache inside me, wishing I could say something in response to their pointed question. I hope that someday I do say something. And if or when that day comes, I know what I’ll say.
It's simple: that’s not how depression works.
I have been experimenting with photography and how it relates to and influences my poetry. I have also been playing with photography and self-expression. I'm interested in how light effects experience and how abstract images are perceived. I've been using it as a new way to escape the world while still interacting with it, just from a distance.
My poetry tends to discuss my struggles with mental illness (but they are always open to any interpretations); however, I haven't been able to figure out how to use photography to represent my mental illnesses. Some of the pictures I take definitely show my emotions and struggles, but I'm still trying to figure it all out.
I guess we all are.
I am a poet. A writer. A student. A fighter. A survivor. I use writing as a means to understand my world, my experiences, my struggles. I use writing to cope, to escape, to help myself and others, and to relive.