Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Story

This week has challenged me to share my story of dealing with depression. I blame and thank Jared Padalecki for this. I am not shutting it in anymore. I refuse to be ashamed of it or think it is my fault. I am going to own my battle and continue to fight it with all I have but I won't do it alone anymore.

I grew up in a very close family. My parents were strict but loving people. We had a healthy, secure childhood and never wanted for anything. My mother had had some bad experiences with people who dealt with depression.  I remember hearing that "depression was just an out for people who want a pity party" mentioned on more than one occasion. I don't blame my mom. She was busy raising 6 kids and fortunately had never dealt with mental illness. But that 'definition' stuck with me for at least 20 years.

My paternal grandmother was my best friend all of my growing up years. She and I would talk weekly about anything and everything. I sought her for any advice. She and I would spend any possible time together. She taught me how to crochet and play the guitar. I truly knew what unconditional love felt like because of her. She was the first person who told me I was beautiful. She was faithful, loyal, courageous and the most loving person I had ever met. She was my best friend. My grandmother fought a terrible 6 month battle with cancer and passed away two weeks after I turned 16. (It's been 13 years and I still am crying typing this). I felt like the bottom had fallen out of my world. I remember sitting at her funeral trying to desperately hard not to cry because I figured there were other people there hurting worse than me. That was the first day that I remember putting on a mask. For years I thought it was grief that haunted me. But I couldn't shake it. I tried all the methods to deal with grief but I couldn't make any progress. This dark, lonely black cloud filled my heart and mind every day. I found it hard to study in high school or college. I became scared to make friends because I didn't want to lose them.

I constantly felt guilty for feeling down and discouraged. If you stood from the outside looking in, my life was really good! I was healthy. I had a loving family and a great job.  So I hid it all. I perfected my smile and happiness. I was very convincing. People asked me all the time if I was ever sad. "I never see you doing anything but smile" they would say. They had no idea that I cried myself to sleep every night. That I would lay in bed every morning thinking if I just didn't get up would anyone really care? I was scared of my own thoughts. They would assault me out of nowhere. Taunting me and telling me horrible things. It just got worse as I grew older.

Four years ago I lost three good friends to suicide in the space of 8 months. In my most private, truthful moments, I admitted to myself that I was jealous of them. Why did they get to give up when that was all I wanted to do. I had fought for so long, could I find relief too? Those thoughts scared me so much. I didn't know what to do with them. On one particular bad day, I had a co-worker pull me aside and say "Honey, have you ever thought that you might struggle with depression?" I fervently  denied that notion. I knew what would happen if I admitted to that with my family history. I would be labeled as a needy, pity-partier. I already hated myself enough. I didn't need that too.

One day, not long after, I came across an episode of a show I didn't know playing on TNT. There were these two young guys leaning on a classic car with beautiful mountains behind them. One was trying not to cry and telling the other one " I don't know how the whole thing went down exactly. But Dad's dead because of me. And that much I do know... So tell me. What could you possibly say to make that all right?" I knew right away that whatever was going on was not that boy's fault. But his tortured face matched my heart. I had to know if he figured out how to live with what had happened. That night I checked out Supernatural season 1 from my library. In 4 weeks, I binged 6 seasons of Supernatural. The plots were interesting to me but I was sucked in so fast because of one thing. These brothers had the worst life! Every person they cared about was taken from them. But they kept fighting. Every day in and day out they fought for people who needed help. They NEVER GAVE UP. Never. I hung on to that truth. I knew that these brothers were just fiction but their story breathed life into my shredded mental state and gave me something to grab on to in the swirling black hole. I started to look outside myself. I realized that as I started to pour myself into making other people's lives happy that it would lift small corners of my darkness.

That doesn't mean that in past 3 1/2 years I haven't had some pretty dark days. It doesn't mean that I don't have some days where I barely hold on. But this show and the fandom surrounding it have become my family. I have met people who don't consider my depression to define me. They are willing to slog through the muck with me. They don't want to "fix me" or ignore me. They listen without judgment or advice. They even gave me the courage to tell my mother about my struggles. I met my best friend through this fandom.

Last summer, I was able to meet Jensen and Jared for the first time. Their honesty and candidness about real life opened my eyes. I knew that I had scars but that meant I had fought hard. I believe my personal experience has softened me to the battles people are fighting around me. I want to never give up. Never. So I will,

Always Keep Fighting.

One day at a time.

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