I don’t remember a time where I haven’t thought about escaping my problems. Whether it was laying in bed for the day and calling in sick, missing the party because I knew no one there, or debating what would happen if I drove my car into a pole; how many days of work could I miss? But it always got better. There’d always be a good period of genuine happiness where I couldn’t get enough of my life. But the darkness would always come back. Not always as strong as before, but it never really left me. I had no idea that you weren’t supposed to feel completely exhausted all the time – I was a student for five years, I thought it was just part of the process. I figured feeling blank was better than feeling like dying. At one point I had a routine of getting home from work and crawling into bed, refusing to get up because there was nothing to do and no point.
It took many years, way longer than it should have for someone with a degree in psychology, to finally say, “Hey, I need help.” It’s easy to encourage our friends to do it, but when it comes to ourselves, we don’t seem to want to. We admire our friends bravery and their courageousness and beam with pride when they get the help they deserve. We overfill them with love and support. When it comes to ourselves, we do the opposite. We talk negatively about our problems and remind ourselves people have it worse. In the doctor’s office waiting room, we worry we’re wasting people’s time. We don’t even know how to bring what we’re feeling up to our doctor, because we fear of the unknown.
But I finally did it. I finally got help.
I think without a shadow of doubt in my mind that 2016 has been the year with the most self-growth. I found out my brain doesn’t regulate dopamine properly and that creates a world of problems. Depression. Anxiety. Compulsive Behaviour. Perfectionism. Avoidance. Lack of Energy. It also explains why I’m the drunk crier at nearly every social event. When your brain learns to function without regulated dopamine for years, (according to my psychologist, probably since my teenage ones), it’s hard to reprogram it. It’s hard to get better.
The hardest part isn’t taking my medication and embracing that we’re going to have a life-long relationship together. It’s not maintaining my therapy appointments and scheduling time every time I need it to do my therapy exercises. It’s not the strength it takes to remind myself sometimes that I’m worthy of this time I set aside from myself,something that is as important as my job and commitments I make to others.
The hardest part is being told by other people what my problems are, once I have the courage to open up about it. From stress, to my attitude, to my sleep patterns. It’s asking me when I’m going to stop my medication or try this natural remedy. I have spent hours on google trying to figure out if there’s another solution. It’s people recommending treatment plans for me, as if I am not already trying everything I possibly can to be better. I’ve had so many conversations laying in bed late at night asking my partner to brainstorm a solution with me, as if it’s not okay that things are working really well for me and that little white pill is partially to thank.
This is why I often don’t talk about my own problems on social media, or on this blog even, but seem to have no problem advocating for changes in how we view mental health. I’m worried that by talking about my problems people will see me as less trustworthy. That they’ll lose respect for me or they’ll be waiting for the day I forget my medication and all hell breaks loose. That they will second guess my abilities or the tasks they give me. But I’m better than I’ve ever been, and only continue to get better. I have the energy to pick up some of my old hobbies. I go out and do social things without giving myself a giant pep talk most of the time. I’m a much better partner and friend and daughter and sister than I had been years ago.
I know I’m going to have people reading this and asking, “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have helped.” I want you to know, you have. I wasn’t ready for help until now. You can’t save people, you can only love them.
So thank you for not letting me eat dinner in bed and telling me that I need to shower, because love doesn’t always appear as hugs and kisses.
Thank you for having your arms open for a hug when I need it most.
Thank you for going for coffee with me everyday, because it makes me feel like I have people who care enough about me to take the time out of their day to include me.
Thank you for trusting me with some of the biggest responsibilities a person can be given.
Thank you for being my mentor 3,000-kilometres away.
Thank you all for allowing me to be part of your family and ensuring I’m surrounded by love on every special occasion.
Thank you for giving me a place to stay when I don’t like to be alone.
Thank you for inviting me to social events that I don’t always go to, but continuing to include me anyway.
Thank you for answering my messages, even about the most random things, because it’s nice to have friends.
It’s been a rough time – often a silent battle. But in the words of Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I’m going to keep going, and there will be bumps in the road along the way. But with all of the little bits of support you’ve provided me with, I know there’s no reason for things to end.