Mental health is something we always talk about now. However, in my experience, we always talk about “other people” who struggle with their mental health. Anyone can struggle with mental illness. Anyone. Especially during this time of year when it is so dark and dreary all the time. So here’s what I’ve learned from living with depression:
- Every day is a new day. Maybe today sucks. But that does not mean that tomorrow will too.
- It is ok to not be ok. Maybe the only thing I can do today is make it to class. Stressing about it is not going to make it better.
- Anyone can be going through something. Even the most successful, the prettiest, or the happiest looking person in class could be in the depths of despair on the inside. So be kind.
- Reaching out for help is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I would not be alive today if I didn’t reach out. It may make me look more vulnerable, but it has made me stronger.
- I am not invincible. I need help from others sometimes and reaching out for help is not a bad thing.
- Just because I’m not currently capable of doing that reading for class or that paper, it doesn’t mean that I’ll never be able to do it. Maybe later this afternoon or tomorrow the darkness will lift a little and I can do a little piece of it then.
- When I am not doing well, I need to surround myself with supportive people. Sometimes that means sitting in my grandparents’ living room watching tv with them. Sometimes that means inviting my best friend over to just sit together. It keeps me safe and reminds me that people care about me.
- Having a dog to hug when I come home can mean the world when I’m not doing well.
- I’m not alone. Depression can make me feel like I am totally alone but so many people have stepped up and helped me and loved me and cared for me at my weakest.
- I am not capable of doing everything I used to do. And that is fine. Someday hopefully I will be able to do everything I used to again. But for now, I will find joy in the little things, like making it to class or reading a chapter in my favorite book.
Depression sucks. It really does. I have been struggling with it for several years, am on medications, and go to counselling pretty much weekly. If you struggle with your mental health, you’re not alone. There are people who care about you and who will help. Reach out if you can. If you can’t today, I get it. Try again tomorrow. There are supports available. For example, the UPEI counsellors are amazing and it is a free and confidential service. Don’t keep struggling alone. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not fun. But you don’t have to stay there. There is hope, even if you or I can’t see it right now.