you expect rain
-natural. nayyirah waheed
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health. A lot about my personal struggle with depression.
For awhile I was obsessed with trying to pinpoint the moment that my life broke open allowing all of the happiness and safety to be spilled out and all the sadness and fear to seep in. I felt like if I could trace it back to the source, then I could rewind life and fix it. Or, at least point to the thing or person who caused it and find comfort in laying blame. It was easy to look back over my life and attribute my sadness to others. There was the terrible job, the emotionally abusive girlfriends, the stress of having to work full time while getting my masters, the constantly trying to live up to praise and expectations. But the truth is that no matter how good or bad life is externally the sadness was always present internally.
I use to think my life broke open on May 11, 2006 – on my 21st birthday sitting in a padded room at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. The day I wanted to end my life. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety and sent home to suffer in silence. Afterward I quietly slipped back into life, I didn’t share with anyone where I had been that evening, Not my college friends or my family (only my mom knew, but we never spoke of it after that night), not my coworkers, and not my friends now.
Looking for that specific moment of internal rupture made me realize that it didn’t exist. There was no one moment, one thing for me to blame. Nothing but myself.
At some point in life, not telling others about my struggle became a weight on me. It became the silence that was killing me and despite the quote tattooed in plain sight, I was living like the silence could save me. Not telling others that I have a history of depression, that I have attempted to end my life, that my bad days are sometimes much worse than just being tired meant that even those closest to me couldn’t understand what I was going through. It meant I was suffering alone because I refused to share myself with the very people that could help.
Now at 30, 9 years after the worst time of my life, 9 years full of ups and downs, I’m back on daily medication. I’m back in individual therapy (after a two year hiatus of regular couples therapy), and I’m finally willing and able to talk about the depression.
I’m not broken. I wasn’t in terrible relationships, didn’t get drained by other ppl’s drama and didn’t stress out trying to live up to other people’s expectations because I am broken. I did all of that because I was depressed and anxious, bc I was afraid someone would find out I was weak, because I thought acting normal was the best way to be normal, because chaos and dysfunction felt like the only thing that was real. I let all the things in this world crush me because I’m human. I let myself be bruised.. But I was never broken.
I am a whole person. No cracks. No chunks missing. None of me has spilled out.
I’m still alive to learn these lessons. I’m still growing. I give thanks for that every day. I give thanks that I no longer have to wear a smile to hide my pain because I can just talk about my pain. I give thanks that I have enough love for myself these days that I can surround myself with only those who can allow me the space to be honest.
I give thanks that I no longer need chaos and dysfunction in order to feel something.
I give thanks for anyone who reads this and sees me for who I really am…bruised but not broken.