In the Spring in 2014, I suffered a horrible bout of Major Depressive Disorder. Although it was one of the most difficult times in my life, it helped bring me where I am now, which is complete happiness. So, in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, here is my love letter to depression.
Out of all of the trials I have faced or people who have hurt me, I’ve probably hated you the most. You kidnapped me during one of the most colossal times in my life and took me to a deep, dark place. You made me want to stay in bed all day even though my racing thoughts would not allow me slumber without a sleep-aide… so I spent several hundred hours of my life staring at a French lace ceiling in my parents’ house. You took away all the passion I had for things that once gave me meaning, and I thought you would take everything from me—even my life.
I hate the false reality you created for me during your presence in my life. I thought I had no friends, because no one would want to seek companionship with someone so indifferent and lethargic—or crazy! I thought my fiancé (now husband) would be better off without me, because we could not spend an evening together without my mind going completely numb at least once and my body being overcome with panic for absolutely no reason. I thought that my life was over because I would finish my undergraduate studies merely six months later than I originally planned. Finally, I thought God hated me because I was mad at Him and because I almost didn’t believe in Him throughout this period in my life.
All of these ideas were wrong.
I hate the fact that you put me in therapy, a place I didn’t want to be. Talking about you didn’t seem to make anything better, because it made me ruminate on things I could not change, and it made me look back on the ever-bleak three months that lead up to you. I couldn’t stand the thought of your leading to me to lose myself in self-harming thoughts, and I most certainly avoided the picture of substance abuse that ends up the fate of many people with mental illnesses, especially those who live in rural Appalachia, a place highly concentrated with narcotics.
Honestly, I hate you to your core, and sometimes I curse my brain for having imbalanced chemicals; seriously, it had one job!
But at the same time, I cannot hate you at all.
You quickly taught me that my illusions of a false reality were entirely untrue. Friends who I hadn’t spoken to with any regularity called or texted me after they found out I’d been hospitalized. Whether to check on me or to offer a message of encouragement, their thoughts brightened my day and help my soul begin to illuminate again.
You showed me just how strong of a bond that my dear Colby and I have. He refused to leave my side, even if spending time with me meant having to say things more than once during our conversations or holding my body as I got tremors of anxiety at any possible moment. He never questioned wanting to be with me, and only mentioned postponing our wedding if I needed to for health reasons.
You reminded me of why I chose to be a teacher. I got a new internship with new students, and realized that feeling more like myself was all I needed to be a good teacher again. I passed my Praxis tests with huge margins, which taught me that, even with racing or irrational thoughts that make it hard to focus, I can do anything I set my mind to. And statistically speaking, I will have a student one day who suffers from a mental illness. I hope I can offer him or her a place of solace as someone who understands.
You introduced me to God again. I started following Him with full sincerity for the first time in my life. Colby and I found a new church with wonderful people. Each Sunday, it felt like God was speaking through our pastor directly to me. My favorite sermon was about James’s advice to the new church recently after Christ’s crucifixion. The verse 1:4 epitomized my current struggle and my pursuit out of it: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Did James actually write his letter to people with psychological disorders?!
I still contend that therapy did not help me get over my depression, but that doesn’t mean that it was completely meaningless. It was really nice to have someone to talk to about other stresses in my life: trying to get my house ready in time for my wedding, living at home after being on my own for a long time, and having to get an ultrasound because my physician thought I might have breast cancer (thank goodness I didn’t). It was nice to get perspective from someone who I knew had my best interests in mind because it was their job to do so.
You inspired me to write the first book I might actually finish.
You inspired me to write poetry again.
You inspired me to start my own business.
You inspired me to revel in the sunsets and appreciate the beauty in the mountains I call home.
Because of you, I have learned what it means to truly work hard and overcome obstacles. Because of you, I am much more humble than I used to be. Because of you, I have a closer walk with God than I could have ever imagined possible.
So, even though a part of me hates every single atom that makes up the imbalanced chemicals in my head, another part of me loves you and owes my life to you. You helped me find myself when I didn’t realize I was deeply, dreadfully lost.
And for that, I will be eternally grateful to you, depression.