Today, a friend of mine asked me, "How crazy would it be if one day you just woke up content?" It was in reference to her wondering if my depression came around due to all the hormones of puberty and if maybe I'd be rid of it come menopause with the second hormone shake up. I responded with, "Content? I don't know her." A funny exchange, but poignant none the less. Contentedness isn't something I'm familiar with, and I haven't been since I first started feeling the stirring of my depression when I was barely a teenager. Dealing with a handful of mental illnesses has made me an extremely tumultuous person when it comes to my emotions. There's a lot going on upstairs, let me tell ya. I'm not incapable of happiness, or other positive feelings, it's nothing like that. It's just that my overall state of being hasn't been without darkness looming over it for about sixteen years. If souls are a real thing, I guess the closest comparison I can come up with is that my soul's got a heavy ball and chain attached to it- one that I can't get rid of. Some days it's easier to pull along, others it's harder. And as the years pass, I'm growing more tired and jaded at the weight following me everywhere I go. Waking up in the morning is nice; it's a new day. That's until I go to climb out of bed and feel that weight. It's like, "Ah, yeah. You again." I've been like this for just over half my life and it's become the norm. The very idea of being truly content and at peace is like, "oh wow could you imagine!?!" Now, before you think, "Omg but Shayla life isn't easy for anyone, we all have hard times!!", just know that I'm not talking about bad days and bad moods. I wish I could explain it better, I really do. It's a hard thing to put into words. It's... as if my mental health illnesses are my shadow. They don't fade away like a bad day, or a grouchy mood, or a crappy situation that can be resolved. There isn't a single moment of any day that I'm not dealing with some sort of mental health symptom: -Sometimes it's anxiety over this or that. Could be small, nagging fears or something so big I sleep with all the lights on or don't leave the house -Maybe it'll just be pure depression. -Possibly searing rage for either no reason or minute reasons that don't even sorta warrant that kind of reaction. -It could be self hatred for this, that or the other. -Now and again it's a manic episode where I'm wild and frantic- a force of nature that'll stop for anything. -It's feasible that it'll be my impulsiveness coming out which ends in me hurting myself financially with impromptu shopping sprees, cutting more than a foot of my hair off for the hell of it or doing something I wouldn't have done had I been able to think it through which leads to regrets. -Could be a mix of any of the above. I'm sure there's others, but I figure you get the gist at this point. All that jumble up there goes for tons of others dealing with mental health stuff. Anyways, I actually forgot the original purpose of this post when I started writing (foggy brain because, surprise, depression!). I'm going to figure out something relevant right now. Okay. Got it. When people find out I have mental health problems- especially depression- they react with utter shock. They're surprised that laughing, smiling, joke cracking me could be dealing with something like that. Then there's times that folks describe me as outgoing and lively- which are two things I couldn't be further from. You can't judge people on face value when it comes to mental health. Saying someone must be faking it, or being over-dramatic, or that they don't even "act" like they have (insert mental illness here), it doesn't mean it's not there or that its "not that bad". Years of negative stigma are what taught me to wear a convincing mask and I know the same goes for countless others. Our illnesses aren't phases. They aren't things we can "just" fix with going outside for a walk or eating clean. They're with us, and more often than not, they're with us for life despite what you think you see. If you didn't even know someone was suffering, then you didn't know. That's not on you. But if you do know? Show some compassion. Don't be that person. Try to understand that we carry a weight that lives within us, it can be basically coded into the very essence of who we are (yay brain chemistry!!).
And to those reading this who do live with mental health illnesses: be gentle with yourself. You carry a lot around and it's okay to be tired and it's okay to not put the mask on for awhile. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions is incredibly important. It's just as important for us to try and not live in those negative emotions, but acknowledging them is necessary. Fuck thinking that you need to put on a show for everyone else, that if you don't you'll be a bummer, or that if you cancel plans because you feel shitty that someone will be mad at you. Fuck that. You come first. Always. P.S- I write these off the top of my head mostly, so I'm sorry if they come off kind of disjointed. I hope I'm still making sense. x Shay