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I've always struggled with depression and it took me many years to figure out exactly what it was. It wasn't until I was an adult I realized what I had been experiencing had a face. It's not the cry for help everybody thinks it is, nor is it something someone is using to seek pity. There are highs and lows and both seem to require a "mask" or "persona". I know what you must be thinking, why would a high require a mask? Isn't that a good thing? Well, I'm here to explain how it might not always be such a good thing and help those who maybe don't understand how the lows aren't as bad as they seem either.
I tend to enjoy my "high" days. Unfortunately, they come with an extreme deepness, and I will talk in riddles. I think we all know how difficult it is to communicate without barriers, let alone with all the obstacles that come with being inconsistent in behavior. Almost like I'm speaking poetically for an entire day. Sometimes it isn't like that at all though, sometimes I'm like a hyper child asking for silly things the entire day, which can equally be just as annoying as riddle talk. I get like this because I'm feeling an increased sense of happiness though. I'm just so happy that every little thing around me touches my soul and brings me joy. No joke!
There's more to the high days than just the manner in which I speak though. I'll often find myself enjoying things I didn't enjoy the day before. I feel like expanding my brain and looking for the answers to things I let linger in the back of my mind. Idle thoughts that weren't important enough for me to entertain on days I felt low. I, however, get excited, a bit like a child again, looking to share what I learned. When I'm not met with the satisfaction I'm seeking in sharing those things, I can dwell on what I could possibly do to achieve a better conversation the next time it happens. This, of course, doesn't only apply to sharing new information learned, but any conversation I have. Depression, to me, isn't so much the sadness most may think it is. Its overthinking, overusing the mind in nontraditional ways. Which brings me to my next topic.
I'll often find myself dreaming I can be one thing or another on days I'm a bit full of myself, or even thinking I'll achieve more than I can with small tasks. I've thought I could be a multitude of things. From a doctor, a vet, a dog trainer, and many others. Yet I haven't done anything other than the same job I've done for roughly 6 years now, but I have changed locations of where I do said job. I convince myself I can do these things, but "low" has been watching from a distance. It's seeking to crush those things. So let me explain a little bit about the ugly low.
Low can be gentle or tough. A bit like a playful kitty (who maybe likes to nibble and scratch) or it can be that of a hungry lion. That, of course, depends on what I'm managing in my everyday life. Hit me with something during an extreme low and I feel as though I might be crazy because it's effecting me so harshly. The low does come with this extreme fog, almost like a wall between me and the outside world. Feeling like you're trapped in your thoughts and nothing else around you can even scrape the surface. You retain NOTHING. Which makes learning something new extremely difficult.
Another difficult thing with low is the awful thoughts that you sometimes have to fight. Things that you often feel like you are burdening people with if you try to discuss them. These can be different things. You may dwell on a loss from the past, one you may experience in the future, or even your own possible demise. Which comes with that touchy topic of self-harm.
I'll start by saying this. A thought is not an action. I may think something, but that doesn't always mean I will act on those thoughts. I've yet to become a doctor, vet, or dog trainer and nobody has been concerned about me for that. Those were merely thoughts and ideas. I must add though, those thoughts are not fun for me. If I share them with someone, it isn't to get attention or have someone fear for me. It's to try to get them to go away. Which brings me to my next topic.
Although I do agree that medication can be a wonderful thing, it is also a difficult thing. I myself have tried many. I have found those that work, some that work for awhile then fail me, and some that just made everything worse. The difficult thing about seeking help for me has been the stigma. People tend to think that you are going to hurt yourself and so they tend to tip-toe. There's so many repetitive appointments, not to mention co-pays and paying for the medication. It isn't always in the schedule or budget. That is why you have to depend on your ability to at least make it through, keeping in mind that not every person is going to feel or deal with things the same way.
I find myself realizing that I have this lingering low that is seeking to damage the high. I don't always want to depend on my medicine to fight it, because maybe I too want to be a warrior. I want to face it myself. It's painful, and sometimes even physically, to deal with the way my mind works. I'll have such bad anxiety my body starts to hurt. It really works that way. Even though I experience these things, it doesn't mean I want some quick fix I'm told I'll get with medication or supplements. I want to be able to look the low in the eye and tell it who is boss so to speak.
I don't want to be made to feel I am out of control of my own mind. I'm sensitive to many things because of my personality anyway. When people around me start to treat me as though I am not in control, I may just be foolish enough to believe it. I will begin to act and think I am weak. Which is never helpful. The best thing, for me, is for those around me to pretend I'm no different unless I come to you expressing how I am. It isn't okay to tell me what I need to do or how to make it better. Although I realize these aren't misplaced feelings and I know it's being said out of care, it isn't what is going to help me. Encouraging me to make it through, but only suggesting a solution to a problem that was presented to you is often a better way. Otherwise, I feel as though you're simply passing judgment on my personality.
The struggle is something that is never-ending. I've realized some people aren't made for dealing with people in need of such thoughts behind their actions. Because in order to help someone struggling with their mind, you have to think before you speak or sometimes even do. You have to truly care, or else you won't be helping anyone. It's a long road, but it's one worth walking. Because even a road lined with glass could be worth the travel if the scenery is a sight like no other.