Now I see the world through diamond eyes.
I have had some spiritual awakenings in the last week. If I could step out of my body and look at where I am now compared to where I was a month, maybe even a week ago, I would see visible and extreme differences.
Here are some of the things I've realized about depression and the journey people who deal with it are on. There are certain things depression and anxiety want you to believe. There are certain things it sometimes does convince you of and drives people out of your life when you are consumed in those beliefs.
1. Depression wants you to think no one gets it. It wants you to feel isolated; like you are the only person in the world who has ever felt the way you feel when you are in it's grasp. It steals the joy from your heart like a thief in the night. Mixed with anxiety, you might not sleep right for days. You might be up and down worrying about things that don't even exist until you worry them into reality. When the people who would rally around you if you had cancer or a stroke or heart attack, or if you were mangled by a bear back away, it's because they don't know what to do. It's not because they don't love you. They are scared. They don't want to make it worse. They don't realize that not talking to you actually makes it so much harder, but to them, it's easier. If they don't talk about it or think about it, then it's not a possibility that they will lose you to depression in their mind. Yes, suicide is a decision. No, it isn't a good decision, but it is a side effect of this illness and if you are ever having thoughts like that, you need to tell someone. If they don't take you seriously or tell you to "get over it" or say that you're just trying to get attention, get them out of your life. They have no place there. Someone far gone enough to even utter something like that needs help. They need love, and not "tough love". They need genuine care from those around them, and if someone can't give that to you, don't fault them for it; but get them out of your life because truthfully they are dangerous and could end up sabotaging your recovery.
2. Depression wants you to think you don't matter. You do, though. Depression wants you to lay in your bed and cry all day. It wants you to have to make up excuses for why you can't see your friends. Did you hear that? Your FRIENDS. They love you. They want to look into your eyes every now and then and see for themselves you're okay. Sometimes they aren't okay and your voice has the power to help them. Your off color sense of humor can inject a little happiness into their darkness and sometimes they need that. Depression makes you say you have a migraine or the flu when the truth is you just can't get it together long enough to shower and get dressed and presentable to leave the house. The worst part? You don't always know why. Sometimes, depression just shows up and sits on your chest like an elephant. Sometimes you cry and the most irritating question you can even imagine hearing is "what's wrong?"
3. Depression wants you to think you need people you don't. It takes your attention away from the people who love you and puts it on to the people who are "too busy" for you or "tired of your crap". So the longer you go without hearing from someone like that, the more worthless you feel. The sadder you feel. The more hopeless you feel. You're so focused on the person who doesn't care and worried about why they don't, that you don't even see the people around you who do. Life starts to feel like a test. Maybe if I do this differently, this person will love me or care about me. You don't NEED anyone like that. People like that are the ones who need the help. They are the ones who haven't heard of compassion. Sure, being friends with someone struggling with depression can be hard, but it doesn't give them any right to be cruel to you. The first time they are, be done. You matter. You're worth it. You can do better than that, and if you think you can't, call me. I'll be your friend. And I'll pray for the people who aren't strong enough to love someone through their darkness. Don't conform to anyone's demands for you to handle yourself differently. Do it because it's best for you. Change your thought processes because it's healthy for you to look at the world through eyes that see good. Don't ever let anyone make you think that to be their friend you need to change your personality. You're someone who lives with depression. You are not depression walking around in a body. You can deal with it in healthy ways with strong support from people who are able to give it to you. People who selfishly want you to be what they think you should be have to go.
4. Depression wants you to think everyone else is living the highlight reel of their life and they never have dark days. We compare our worst to everyone else's best. Is it any wonder that depression is becoming so much more common? You know what? If you show up at my house at 3am, I'm going to be decked out in my ratty old First Federal tee shirt, glasses, and pajama pants. I won't look good at all, but I'm still me. If you look on Facebook, you'll probably see that I don't have a lot of pajama clad, makeup-less photos up. Those moments exist for me, just like they do for everyone else. You won't see me posting on the days when I cry more than laugh. That's not a chapter of my life I want to read out loud. It exists though. And I have a few people I can trust with those moments in my life, and they help me. I have a few people who couldn't handle it, and it's better that they are off the canvas because there's no healing with people like that chipping away at you. Just remember that what you see is not always fact. Don't compare the darkest moments of your life with the brightest of someone else's. You'll slip into the rabbit hole of self hate and talking down to yourself every time, and you don't deserve that. No one should treat you like crap. Not even you.
5. Depression wants you to think you are a burden. Sometimes people say things to you that just come out wrong or your depressed mind transforms it into something it wasn't meant to be. Forgive them, and forgive yourself. Try not to take the bad behavior of others on yourself. If someone is mean to you, it's not about you. It's about them. People who really love you love all of you. Even the not so lovable parts. You might get on someone's nerves here and there. You might drive someone crazy now and then because your racing thoughts and anxiety grab a hold of you and you need reassurance and are not reassured even when you get it. It's okay. Here's your reassurance. You are enough. You matter. Something you did or said at some point affected someone in a way you don't even know. They might not have had or will never have the courage to tell you that, but it's the truth. Your presence makes someone's life better.
Depression is a bitch. Anxiety is an asshole. By themselves or mixed together, they sure can reek havoc on people who would love to be happy and never feel these things. It's not something you can just "stop". But you don't have to live unhappily with either of these monsters. You just have to figure out the right way to wrangle them in, step on their throats and look them in the eye and tell them that you're not losing today for them. You're not missing out on your life for them. You're not letting them rule anything anymore. Whether it's a pill, talk therapy, art therapy, yoga, or whatever helps you get a firm grasp on your depression or anxiety, get a tight hold on it and tell it that you will be victorious. And remember if you aren't triumphant over this illness once in awhile, it's okay. Don't unpack and live there. Get your through your darkness the best way that you can, and try again when you've built up some more strength to grasp it again. No matter who you are, you matter. Your life matters.
I'm on the front line. Don't worry, I'll be fine; the story is just beginning. Look at the world through diamond eyes. And listen to Shinedown when you need that kick in the butt to motivate you to remember that you will be fine. You've got this.