Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Beaten Down Feelings and Invalidated Pain

Depression doesn't care about your social standing, your grades, your home life or how well off you are.

Depression can surface unexpectedly and without warning to those it decides to infect.

And yet, people have the audacity to believe it can only be present in a certain type of people. If you don't fit the bill, you must be lying or going through a "phase."

I'm here to tell you that's total bullshit.

I was always the perfect child. I have a loving family and a good home life.
Family Portrait by Leah Dile
Never did drugs, always on time, never skipped class, stayed out of trouble and tried to be a good influence. I was the "goody two shoes" and proud of that title. I passed my classes with flying colors, had the voice of an angel and I knew exactly where I was going and how I was gonna get there.

Then my junior year of high school came and everything changed.

I began feelings things I had never experienced before. Feelings of regret over nothing at all. Anxiety over every situation. No confidence in the things I excelled at. Lose of enjoyment in the things I loved. Exhaustion, but sleep eluded me as my mind overflowed with negative thoughts. All of this built up to an intense pain, always just behind my eyes, right where I couldn't fix it.

I tried to hide it. I tried to pretend like I was fine, it would go away on its own, it was just a fluke. 

"Are you okay?" "I'm fine just tired."

I spent months like this, secluded in my own mind trying to figure out what I had done to bring myself to this mental low. When I couldn't come to any conclusion, I turned to the internet and my school's counselor. 

Original Photography by Emily Smith
I realized I was showing signs of depression and I approached my mom. My mom who had always loved me, always told me my feelings were valid and always would discuss things even if she didn't agree with me. I knew I could turn to her and she would help me.

She told me that I was fine.

"You're in high school, it's just a phase." "You don't have depression." "Counselors and therapist and psychiatrists just blow things out of proportion you're fine." "You just need to sleep more." "You just need to lose weight." "You just need to exercise more."

Having the person who had always cared before refusing to listen to you is one of the hardest things to ever happen.

I turned to friends next. Many of them said it was hormones, others became angry saying I had it too good to be depressed. Others just laughed it off like it was an awkward conversation they didn't want to have.

There were a few who tried to help and I am so thankful for those teachers, friends and my boyfriend at the time for listening to me, even if they weren't sure how to help. The fact that you cared carried me through to graduation.

However I mostly suffered in silence, too beaten down and broken to reach out. It took me three years after high school to even consider therapy.

I know this seems like a long, meaningless story, but all of that goes to say please, do not, for the love of everything that is pure and good in this world ever invalidate the things people are feeling. If they reach out to you there's a reason. Don't brush them off, you're impacting them more than you could ever know.