MELISSA ZEBOROFF: DEPRESSION HAS ARRIVED

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to YouAreMore. 

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Why? I haven’t felt the need to. 

I like to write when I am actively experiencing depression and anxiety because I personally feel that it’s when I’m best able to share the rawness and reality it brings. Well, that time has come. For the first time since my initial diagnosis, I’m truly depressed again. It isn’t the same as before because I know that I will get through this. History will repeat itself for me. But the painful process I have to overcome to get there is daunting. Typically I wake up at 7am, well rested, and eager to get outside and see my loved ones. This is no longer my experience. It has been a few months battle now of waking up feeling sluggish, fatigued and ready to go back to bed without having done anything. Once confident, my self-esteem has diminished. As you can imagine, this creates severe social anxiety in my academic environment, and personal life. 

It’s been months since I’ve felt like my world was crashing in slowly and there was nothing I could have done to stop it. Now that my nursing program has reached the half way mark, stressors are piling up and due dates are approaching quicker than what is needed for me to feel like I have a handle on things.

I get forgetful so every day when I plan something or tell someone I’ll have something done it must be written down because my mind like a tangled spider web. Naturally people would think, take on less, delegate to others; support is there. Logically, I know this. Being depressed is a different narrator to every sense of the word. I try and prove to myself that I have control over things and can accomplish things by taking on multiple tasks. In a way this is because I have no control over my emotions, and have lost my confidence in my capabilities as a student, a professional and a person. My thoughts have become irrational and confusing and I’m separated from my “usual self”. I have taken my lack of self-control out on others by shutting down and getting defensive; again, not my “usual self”. I preach lifting others up and supporting others till I’m blue in the face. But this is not something I’m able to do right now, and this was hard to accept. Every day, no matter where I am, even in my own space at home, I am extremely uncomfortable. While I know that things will change because history proves this to be true, I cannot see an end site with all of the stressors that are in my life at this time. I am in a very heavy academic program and unfortunately a busy course load is part of the game. However, what I can do is practice self-care every god damn day. This consists of going to the gym every day, and ensuring I have adequate “me” time to center, and simply take time to breathe to calm my nerves. Self-talk is also a daily ritual. I have negative thoughts entering my mind every hour stating, “I cannot do this”, “I’m going to fail”, “I’ll never get through this”. It takes me verbally saying “yes you can”, “yes you will”, and “this does not define you, this is temporary”. Visits to my therapist have become a regime because while it helps to tell myself these things, I need someone else to tell me so it solidifies in my mind and trumps the negative self-doubt.

I remember when I first started feeling like I was losing balance in my life. And it wasn’t until recently that I started to become distant with close friends, and family members; isolation was my first clue to how depressed I really was…. Again. I hyper focused and panicked on the fact that I was back in the slumps all over again. The pity and victim came out and I allowed it to be my reality. Being open and honest with my core friends and family was the best decision I could have made. We all need support. It is not a sign of weakness (as my depression told me), but a sign of strength (as my logical self knew).  Through open communication and support from the health care system and my loves ones I am now back on a journey to recovering from this. I realized that depression isn’t just a part of my history; it’s a part of me but doesn’t define me. It’s a minuet aspect of my personality and rather than allowing it to take over, I, and others out there, must prove that it is not in control. Because this is the first time my depression has come full circle since my diagnosis, it is hitting me hard. But realizing that it will come back in the future, and doesn’t need to be a daunting challenge, but an acceptance, is what has helped me get through this. I have the tools to get through it and I will be better able to overcome it when stress hits later down the road. You’re probably thinking, is stress what caused this relapse? Maybe,  maybe not. Depression can come and knock on your door at any time, and it is up to us to push back. How do I do this? SELF-CARE. SO whatever self-care looks like to you, do it. Motivation isn’t always going to be there, so discipline needs to happen. I force myself out of the house some days because I know that one of these days, I will start to feel more alive and rejuvenated. I will again want to be around a group of people because I want to, not because I feel I should. For someone who loves people and being around them all of the time, I constantly turn in and isolate. Is this a good thing? Sometimes, I feel it is. And Sometimes I challenge it. My point is, everyday isn’t going to be perfect, and that needs to be OK. While I sit here writing this, I hold myself accountable for telling my own self this every day. The reason I chose to post this now, is to preach the suffering that comes from mental illness, but also advocate and create a supportive community of people who are experiencing mental illness, or have family members and friends experiencing it. It’s a very sticky area to try offer support into with little knowledge around what happens to a person’s mind and behaviours, so if this brings any guidance and clarity, my goal has been met. If there’s anyone out there who wants to reach out and support one another, I’m always here, and you’re never alone.