And it’s back again.
For me it comes as a surprise. I never seem to see it coming.
It’s like I’m on a stage and the trapdoor opens. I fall only to be submerged in a huge tank of water and there I am swimming with my clothes on. Wondering how this happened. Why is it so hard to swim to the top and grab a breath of fresh air? I’m angry that I didn’t recognize the signs. I am exhausted from swimming. I am tired of trying to fight for air. The people in my life are on the outside of the tank watching me. “What’s wrong?” – “Why can’t you swim to the top?” – “How did this happen?” – my eyes glaze over because all I can think about is swimming to the top and I don’t have the energy to explain to you how this happened, because if I knew I wouldn’t be here.
Eventually I drag myself out of the water and let the sunlight beat on my face. It feels good. I feel good. Everyone forgets about the tank and me falling. Life continues until it happens again and we repeat the same cycle.
The good days far outweigh the bad days, but the bad days are bad. Fighting something that no one else can see is harder than one might think. If I had a broken arm, people wouldn’t expect me to lift boxes or perform heavy tasks. When you have an invisible illness – the world keeps moving – while that invisible illness slowly starts making you feel like you’re disappearing.
People can’t comprehend how my life on the outside could lead to the darkness on the inside. But that’s not the way it works. Nothing is as how it seems and you don’t choose the darkness. I think the darkness chooses you.
The worst part is letting people in. Letting people know what’s happening. When your head is dark, the last thing you want to do is bring someone else into the darkness. So you push people away into the light. You fake smiles. You fake energy. You fake it alot. So everyone else can be okay.
The problem with faking it all of the time is it wears on you. It doesn’t help the problem, it masks it.
So you learn how to accept it.
I’ve spent a lot of time accepting the darkest parts of myself and being okay with the darkness. I’ve learned to accept that some days I will not be able to take on the world and that some days just keeping my feet planted on the ground is enough.
Depression is so internal and that internal talk in my head likely contributed to the thunderstorms I am experiencing now. I was lucky enough to find therapy when I did. It’s funny rewriting the things that you say to yourself. It seems so simple, yet it is so hard. The internal monologue of our lives contributes so much to our daily routines, self-esteem, business, relationships, friendships.
We are all a constant work in progress. In a year I’ve learned the power of neglecting yourself and what that does on the psyche. I’ve learned how to build a business…as I tore myself down. I didn’t realize that the blocks of time I was taking for my business – were blocks from the pile of my own self-care routine.
Once the blocks are all gone, you’ve hit rock bottom. You reach and there’s nothing left to grab. And that’s where I was. I was at rock bottom.
My memory is a blurr, partly because it’s painful and partly because I was a ghost at that time. Rock bottom was me in a hospital gown. Deep dark circles under my eyes. A blank stare. Rock bottom was crying for no reason and not having the energy to eat. Rock bottom was not being in control. Rock bottom was being so scared of myself.
I remember the eyes of the people who loved me. Scared. Confused. I remember being scared to be alone. I remember the color purple and being in a wheelchair.
I remember crying as the door closed and I knew it was me against myself.
I remember how bright the light was outside when I finally got out. And I remember trying to rebuild myself day by day.
I remember going for runs to quiet the voice in my head. Crying because I was in the eye of the storm.
Bargaining with myself.
I have come SO FAR and I know I still have a long ways to go.
I share this as a cautionary tale to those who neglect themselves for their work. Neglect themselves for their family or friends. Keep my story close to your heart as a reminder that balance is very real. Investing in yourself is a necessity. At the end of the day a healthy mind and a healthy heart is all you need.
Ashley Rector, founder of Harness Magazine.
This article was sponsored by BetterHelp. We are lucky to partner with such an incredible mental health resource. If you wish to learn more about depression, see this article: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/