** A blog made in 2015 from a previously owned blog.
“She was trapped in a maze of incomprehensible pain and heartbreak. Completely and irrevocably alone in a maze of mirrors reflecting her every shortcoming, indiscretion, sin, and inequity. Projected on every millimeter of every wall was a reminder that she would never find her way out.”
Imagine being in a glass case that is as wide as your wingspan. There is a hose that is releasing water at a neck-breaking pace. With each inhalation, water continues to rise. Higher and higher. There’s no way out and your mind is clouded because you can only think about your inevitable death.
Imagine wearing a pair of sunglasses 24/7 that you’re not allowed to take off. Not by choice, but by obligation. Your whole day is dark, even when the sun is out. Even when people are smiling.
Imagine being in a nightmare. You’re running down the street, panting and sweating profusely. You’re trying to escape something, but you can’t quite make out what it is that you’re running from. You open your mouth to scream for help, but nothing comes out. You open your mouth again – nothing. No help.
Imagine having the worse day you could possibly have. Now imagine that same day, but with the realization that this bad day is actually a good day for you and that the days you await will be worse.
Today, May 10th, concludes a week that is very near and dear to my heart – National Depression and Anxiety Week. Some individuals chose to celebrate it, some did not. However, I’m going to discuss why this week in particular should matter to everyone – not just for this week, but for everyday, hereafter.
Hi, I’m Jasmine Jenkins and I am depressed.
As a sufferer of depression, I am able fathom the immensity of the distress that all victims of anxiety and depression cope with. I was officially diagnosed with depression only about 6 months ago, but am more than positive that I have been a victim ever since I was a young teenager. Growing up, I was always told: “What goes on in this house, stays in this house”, “Be tough”, “A psychiatrist? You mean, a shrink?”. When hearing all of this, I was subliminally conditioned to believe that it was not acceptable to not be okay. I was able to master the act of a big, fake smile and passive aggression. Not knowing how to cope with my emotional baggage, I would take it out on my siblings and friends. I fought, I cursed, I smoke, I drank, and I rebelled. I assumed that if everyone saw how cool I was, then no one would see my sadness and anger. This continued throughout the course of my middle and high school career.
Wipe your tears, puff your chest, push your chin up, and keep it moving.
It wasn’t until my freshmen year in college where I could no longer hide from my emotional/mental shortcomings. As a top-tier athlete, it is literally a full-time job that requires both mental and physical stability. Your day consists of class, study hall, weightlifting, conditioning, and practices. Without focus and the will to carry out these tasks, your days were arduous. As a freshman, I had midterm deficiencies, I had been suspended for a game due to a violation of team rules, and I made my first attempt at suicide. I had nothing to live for and everything to die for. I constantly heard thousands of voices, showcasing my deficiencies as a human.
You’re nothing, you might as well just die. You’ll never be good at basketball. You’ll never pass that class. You might as well just quit. Your teeth are so ugly. No one loves you. You are so lazy. You’ll never be fit enough. Success will never come to you. You don’t deserve it.
For almost every day of my life since I was 10, I experienced flaws, imperfections, and failures being crowded at the forefront of my mind. I became numb and drew further into my shell, into my nightmare. Even the simplest tasks were difficult to do. Showering, brushing my teeth, eating, tying my shoe, answering my phone, checking my text messages, smiling – living. This state that I was living in had disturbed my whole being.
I can’t remember how many times I have attempted suicide. I don’t know which scars are from cutting anymore. I can’t remember the amount of times I reminded myself where my dad kept his hunting rifles. What I do know is that I have finally realized, after ten years, that I desperately needed help. For that, I am liberated.
Why does this matter to people without depression?
- As individuals in society, we have coupled sufferers of mental illnesses with weakness and vulnerability. We must stop advocating for the idea that asking for help or guidance is for the weak. Because of labels floating around, victims of depression and anxiety refuse to seek help because they think they are being strong by not doing so. Help is colorblind, genderless, and isn’t biased to a specific group. By eliminating the stigmas, we subconsciously allow individuals to feel better about seeking help.
- Victims of depression and anxiety are usually coined as lazy whiners who need to stop wallowing in self-pity. “How can I feel bad or help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves?” We must understand that depression is like an addiction. While we are all aware that it exists, it is almost as if we find comfort in the emptiness. While there isn’t any happiness, there also isn’t failure. There is a difference between laziness and depression. Laziness can be felt while still feeling pleasure and happiness. Depression consumes every aspect of your life, including emotions. Laziness can be fixed with discipline, while depression cannot.
Eliminate the stigma. Make it okay to not be okay.
What can you do if you think you’re suffering from depression or anxiety?
- Be not ashamed. Admit that you have depression or anxiety. As a sufferer, admitting is half of the battle. There are many different types of depressions, causes, and treatments, but none of that matters unless you are courageous enough to admit that you have it.
- Seek help. If you find yourself in a serious depressive episode and the matter is urgent, there are helplines: 630-482-9696 or 800-273-8255.
- Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
Pay it forward.