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Making the Climb

Dealing with Depression

All my life I have struggled with this sensation in my chest, well sort of in my chest. It was really centered right above my stomach and right below my sternum. For my whole life I walked around with this little black ball inside of me, I could feel it there, right underneath the surface of my skin. It always made me feel out of place somehow.

Then when I would get upset, anxious, or nervous this little ball inside of me would expand. It would make me hot all over, I would start to feel like I couldn't control my body. I would need to do something, anything to get the feeling to stop. First I would cry, then yell or scream, then I started to lash out at people physically or objects. I remember one time I split from an abusive boyfriend and I trashed a vacuum cleaner. When I say trashed, I actually annihilated this thing with my fists. Then the shame kicked in.

I think the end of my episodes were the worst because I felt so badly for things I said or did. I always felt so out of it. It was like I wasn't driving my own body, I could see myself, I knew that it was me but I couldn't stop it. So I tried anger management, I was 14 at the time, a good kid with decent grades but my home life was unstable.

My dad had left my brother and I to move to Florida. My grandmother stepped in and kept us from going to foster care. Our mother had been long gone since before we could really remember what she looked like and the rest of our family was in other states. Our whole world revolved around my single grandmother and each other. At first this seemed normal to me.

I had not known any other families really, so I assumed that ours was normal and that every family had these issues. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, violence, running from the police, and generally just living day to day. It wasn't until I met a girl that lived across the street from me, that I realized that I was not normal. 

I was in 5th grade when my dad left my brother and I, we moved in with my grandma. I met Danielle shortly before going into 6th grade, over the summer. We became really good friends and I gravitated to her family because they were so much different than anything I knew. Her father reminded me of mine, stern but also loving. Her mother was so nice and funny, Danielle also had an older sister who I thought was the coolest person I had ever known.

To me Danielle seemed like she had everything, they ate dinner together every night and prayed together. They went on weekend trips together to go camping, fishing, amusement parks, and canoeing. My favorite trips were the ones to go drive go-karts. What was even cooler about being her friend is I felt like I had so much more freedom and I felt so loved.

All of that changed when she moved. Danielle and her family moved far away and then almost right after that my grandma left my grandpa. We moved farther away from the neighborhood where all of my friends were and into a whole other school district. I was getting ready to end middle school and go into a combined middle and high school with no friends. I was terrified.

This is when I started to feel that little black ball I was talking about earlier. It took me almost a year in anger management to learn how to suppress this feeling. Not deal with it in a healthy way but basically just push it down, down, down. Until eventually I would explode with whatever emotion was the last one on top of the pile. This unhealthy emotional state led me to make the worst choices in partners.

They fed off my insecurities, my vulnerability, and my need for a strong male presence in my life. These boys would constantly put me down, call me fat, mess with my head, blame me for their actions, and treat me like a sex doll. For years it was this way and I struggled with being happy with myself, it wasn't until I got kicked out of college that I really started to learn about myself.

I think often times that women struggle with a lot of emotional turmoil and never speak out until they have been at the bottom. Almost like hitting rock bottom but when most people hit rock bottom they get help, when women hit rock bottom emotionally, we tend to stay there for a while. We tend to wallow in it, live in it, and breathe it. Maybe this is why there are so many open discussions now about mental health in women, especially regarding PPD.

This is where I finally learned what was wrong with me, I had my son and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Then it all clicked. The years of needless anger, resentment, anxiousness, and panic. After seeing a therapist for the PPD, we realized that it was a preexisting condition. Depression and anxiety. All of a sudden I was on the fast track to feeling normal, or as close to normal as I could be!

I have tried for the last two years to describe what I went through to my friends and family, it seems that no one really understands except for people who struggle with this too. Even with all these little sayings and clever explanations of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts it still seems that society in general has this stigma on us. We are all placed in the same box.

If you have suicidal thoughts, you are suicidal. If you are depressed you just need to get out more and make friends. If you have social anxiety or panic attacks you are just shy. We are all different, there are different feelings and states to all of these things. Imagine if you will a box of crayola crayons.

In that box of crayons you have several different shades of pinks, greens, blues, and reds. Each shade of pink is different from the last one, getting darker and darker as it goes down the spectrum until eventually you have a color that is unrelated to that original baby pink color you had. This is how I see mental health when it relates to depression. It is such a broad spectrum of colors, each unique to its own person.

I am such a happier person since I stepped out of my comfort zone and admitted my suicidal thoughts and anxiety ridden feelings to a stranger. Today, I have had no angry outbursts for no reason. I have had no lingering thoughts of harming myself or other people. My insomnia is virtually non-existent and my demeanor in general has improved. I no longer struggle with feelings that blindside me on a daily basis and I have learned to control the legitimate feelings I do have. I want to urge all women to come out and talk about these things with your doctor.

Don't be afraid to open up to someone about how you feel. I know I was always afraid that my son would be taken from me if I expressed the things going on inside my head or that I would lose my job. I learned that this was all stemming from my anxiety and that what happened was the opposite. I got help. I got support and anytime I need to talk, there is always a listening ear.  

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