I've hesitated to be very forward about this in public because it makes you feel vulnerable. I am literally feeding into the stigma that I claim to want to break into, but I think today is a tipping point. This week we've watched two cultural icons lose their battle with depression, and it's time to talk, honestly. I think these blistering losses, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Robin Williams, they resonate with people because you think that success and family means you can't be depressed. Depression is not sadness.
I've hesitated on this public platform because I didn't know if it would be appropriate to talk about myself on a site I use for my travel work. But if I'm going to share any of myself on this platform, it would be dishonest to ignore my depression and anxiety, especially considering there seems to be some misconception that if you're functioning, if your life is good, if people perceive you as happy, that you can't be depressed. Depression is not sadness.
I don't need to medically explain mentall illness because for a lot of people, information isn't the problem, it's stigma. I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to reach out, and all I can really do is be honest and offer my ear and my shoulder, if you need it.
So. I’m overwhelmed by my depression and anxiety most days. Since finally getting medical help I’m definitely more capable and productive, but something I wasn’t prepared for was that how you feel still exists. You treat it now, acknowledge it, try to take care of yourself better than you used to, because at least now you have the energy to take care of yourself, even if you still feel like you don’t deserve it.
What nobody told me was that there will still be days where nothing feels worth it, least of all yourself. I wasn’t prepared to still have “bad spells” that lasted for weeks. It’s hard to ride waves of anxiety you barely understand. It’s exhausting to constantly tell yourself that everything is okay and life is great and nothing is wrong, and still have it mean nothing to your heart rate or your fatigue or the perpetual paralysis that you tell yourself is “self care because you deserve to rest, you work a lot, and everyone stays home, it’s normal.” It’s not normal.
I hate talking about this, it gives me anxiety to talk about my anxiety, but it’s really starting to break my heart how many people not only relate to what I’m saying, but only realize that they have options other than tacit misery, when I say it. Life isn’t supposed to be happy all the time, and neither are you. But if you feel stuck, you might be stuck. Listen to yourself. Please, PLEASE ask for the help you need.
Fun fact, Gus is my therapy dog. He helps me redirect all of the relentless energy I used to invest in torturing myself, into instead caring for another life, getting outside, and asking for comfort from a creature that will give it unconditionally. I'm not saying I'm cured, I'm just saying I'm working on a plan to keep me healthy.
You don’t have to get a Gus, but get a plan. You deserve to take care of yourself, and you deserve to know that, even if your brain isn't letting you feel it. All I can say is that I'm here if you need me, and I understand how you feel. I may not understand every bit of it, but I see you, and I want you to see me, and I want you to know that it's okay to not always feel okay. Just please reach out.