Darkness surrounds me and I feel as though I can’t breathe. All I want to do is sleep and cry, but then I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I try to get up, but it’s like something is holding me down so I can’t move. I try to move but it feels like I’m chained to bed where I lay in misery wishing the blackness would go away. It sucks me in and as a cling to life. I wonder if I will beat this darkness.
That is what Depression feels like. That’s how I felt from the age of 14. Depression is like a black hole that constantly hangs over your head waiting for you to slip up at any moment. I know it’s there hanging over me, but I get up every day and fight these demons because I refuse to let them take control of my life.
My entire life I’ve struggled with my identity; who am I as a person? What do I want to become? Where do I belong? Growing up, I was the silent one. The one that didn’t say much and the one whose thoughts were running through her ready to flow out like a fountain. There was no one to listen to me. Instead, I pushed my thoughts into the pit of my stomach and never spoke up. It was if I was locking them up and no one would ever hear them. I was the girl that would never speak unless spoken too; act unless I needed to. I was living in a world where I didn’t fit in.
From the time I was little, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to be. I always felt like that I was more than a little different than my family and the rest of the kids in school. I would think about things mainly in the future. I thought about life and death and what happens after we die. My thoughts were my own. I remember starting a diary. I would write how I felt and what was going through my mind. Even as a child, I was mature for my age. I never acted out and when I did, I felt it was justified.
Growing up, I thought my family was the picture perfect and nothing could tear us apart. That was a lie and we all knew it. I still remember the fights, the screaming and yelling and slamming of doors. I watched my parents marriage crumble right in front of my eyes. My siblings and I were torn because we loved our parents so much. I was my daddy’s little girl and I always took his side even at a young age. The battle of divorce was laid out on the table. As children, we had to understand that was the final resort. I needed to come to terms with the fact that my parents didn’t love each other anymore and for our sake they would split. This was the most traumatic even in my life. I felt as thought my entire life was falling apart and there was nothing I could do to fix it. At the time, I was seven years old and that’s when the isolation began. I spent a lot of time in my room away from the world reading, sleeping and writing.
My parents knew something was wrong, because I used to love spend time with my siblings. I rarely hung out with them after the divorce. I would spent a lot of time isolated in my room surrounded by my own thoughts which sometimes let to over-thinking and Anxiety set in as a young age. Then the depression came, I didn’t know what they were but I just accepted the darkness. At that time, I liked it. I was engulfed in a dark blanket and it made me feel comfortable. I never wanted to leave. Years later, I would do anything to get away from that black blanket that engulfed me.
Fast forward to high school and the hellish experiences that entered my life during my senior year. This year was supposed to be the best year of my life. It ended up being the worst one. I would’ve given anything to redo that year. This was when the depression and anxiety came back in full force. Depression does’t give shit at all. Anxiety makes you worry so much you make yourself sick. Having both is a vicious feedback look. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I laid in bed feeling empty, hollow, and as if nothing was there. I cried over everything and it would get the point where I would lay in bed all weekend and no one would try to talk to me because I was either asleep or wouldn’t answer.
My father finally stepped in. He helped get me treatment. I was diagnosed with Depression and put on an antidepressant. They didn’t do anything about the anxiety and back I went in the pitfalls that I call my life. Despair, emptiness, loneliness and a sense that nothing was going to better remained in my life.
Every time I talked about how I felt, I was reminded that I had a roof over my head and to suck it up. That’s why I decided it was better to fake it. It wasn’t worth hearing the remarks I would get from talking about my depression. They accused me of faking it, wanting attention, being anti-social, and making my problems seem bigger than they were. Only if they knew that wasn’t it, that the farthest thing from my mind. I was in emotional pain. I decided at that moment, I would no longer talk about how I felt or my depression. People soon began to drift away from me. They no longer wanted to be around me. I was already losing myself, I didn’t want to lose my friends and family. I would put on a brave face and act like everything was fine even though I felt like I was dying on the inside. I would choose those around me before myself. It remained this way until my late 20’s.
In February of 2015, I started to experience terrible anxiety and I wasn’t sure what was causing it. I would feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t say anything because at the time, I was going through a stressful period in my life. The anxiety got worse and worse and in April of 2015 I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. I was put on medication and began the journey to a happier life. I’m still on this journey.
There are some days when it’s easier and there are other days where getting out of bed is the only victory. Recovery is part of the journey and I’m still learning and taking my time with the process but I’m healing. I’m healing mentally, physically, and emotionally and taking the first step towards recovery can be daunting but can be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
In January of 2016, I rejoined Twitter for the purpose of keeping up with friends. In the process found Team Not Ashamed and now I co-lead it with five amazing women who have battled Mental Health problems. We aren’t ashamed of our mental illnesses. They don’t define us a person.
I have become a voice for people that don’t know how to speak for themselves. Anxiety and depression controlled my life to the point that it was threatening everything I love and cherish. I refuse to let it defeat me. I will fight until my dying day and I will be a voice for those who can’t speak. Being an advocate for mental health is so rewarding and it’s something that I will continue throughout my life. This is my story and I am not embarrassed or ashamed of it, I’ve learned that our struggles make us stronger. This is only part of my journey and I will come out victorious.
I’m Megan, I’m 29 and I live in the midwest. I am senior in college majoring in communication studies and a mental health advocate. I co-lead @teamnotashamed on Twitter with five awesome ladies. In my free time, I lift weights, read, write, and spend time with family and friends.