Growing up, I was taught that depression is an unaffordable luxury. Therefore, I learned to first, mask all my feelings to make everyone else happy, second, NEVER externalize emotions and third, to never ask for help, because who can I trust? However, these notions are far from the truth. I spent so much time pretending to be okay that even though I had people who could help me, I couldn’t even fathom the thought of asking for it. But, luckily for me, I didn’t seek help, it sought me.
I was so disappointed watching my body build a home for someone I would never meet. I was haunted by my stretch marks that showcased the decision I made. Looking at my partner terrorized me by reminding me that our love created a bundle of joy that grew inside of me, who would never have a name. When I got an abortion, I also killed apart of myself.
Anxiety disorder is not only in the form of someone freaking out and having a noticeable mental breakdown. Sometimes, our mental breakdowns are strictly mental; meaning that we do not necessarily show them.
There are times when I cry uncontrollably, throw or hit things, distance myself from the world, or even do all of these things at once because my anxiety gets a little too real for me.
I've known for years that something wasn’t right. All of the accolades from running collegiate track and field or obtaining my master’s degree couldn’t stop the extreme internal battle that I have been fighting for so long. I developed little tricks to help me cope, like excessive sighing, being jumpy, and other nonverbal cues. I had been having anxiety attacks for about 2 years and they came on when I was alone or when I was in a room filled with people. A flashback, a nightmare, or a bad thought triggers a negative response within and a downhill spiral ensued.
I believe my story starts long before I first understood my experience to be that of depression. I've witnessed someone being shot, lost my twin sister, was raped multiple times, and separated from my siblings, all before the age of 5. However, I never had anyone during that time stop to acknowledge the pain that came along with those experiences, which resulted in me burying that pain for many years, as if those things never happened.
That is when I learned a harsh lesson. Anyone can smile, but smiles can hide so much hurt and pain people never know about. I still think about what she would be doing with her life if she had not committed suicide. I think about what could have happened if people heard her cries for help when she needed someone. I often wonder if I saw her cries for help, but just did not notice.
It's almost as if it becomes so unbearable that I can't go on for another moment. I get weary. After I've gone through a whole gamut of emotions...I become exhausted and rest. Then I realize that it's not time for me to go anywhere just yet because I have purpose. So I continue my therapy and take my meds as I know I need to in order to give myself the best chance of survival that I can. I don't just want to survive....I want to live life fully, with happiness and gratitude.
“There is no problem to big for God” is what our parents tell us when sadness consumes us. While those words may be comforting for a moment, the sad feelings always seem to make their way back in. Who can we run to when we have been conditioned to think those things are not real. They are simply just the devil playing tricks with our minds. While that may be halfway true, depression and anxiety do exist and they are tearing down our community like a silent killer in the night.