Saturday, July 25, 2015

Personal Story: Dealing with Undiagnosed Depression

In my last post, "Personal Story: Revealing My Old Self," I wrote about my struggle with anorexia throughout high school. This post was the first in a little series I want to create for you. My "Personal Story" series will contain stories about me that you may or may not have known already. This is going to be a little outlet for myself that has been needed for some time.

Next in the series: a few ways I dealt with my depression without too many people knowing.

My childhood was not much of a childhood. I had to grow up a lot faster than most kids did. I was the "good kid" because I had to be. I saw no point in adding to whatever my parents were already dealing with. I stayed quiet and kept my issues and desires to myself unless they seriously needed to be addressed. While I have some fantastic memories as a child and teen, there are more painful memories that stand out.

I had to go through a lot. I have seen both of my parents in hospital beds for reasons no child should ever have to. Luckily, my dad survived and has a large family to show for it. However, I watched my mom slowly deteriorate along with her life over the course of almost ten years due to cancer. I watched my oldest brother go off to the Army, unsure of when he'd be coming home again. I watched my older brother make mistake after mistake, not knowing how to help him or if he would ever quite figure it out. I watched myself grow further and further from the only sister (well...step-sister) I have, unable to fix whatever made us strangers. I learned of death and loss at too young of an age. I won't go into detail about all the rest of the events that affected me over the years; we'll save that for another time.

Right now, I want to talk to you about the fact that I know I was depressed. I don't need a doctor to tell me that. I didn't exactly know it back then. I thought I was, but I wasn't 100% sure. But I managed just fine. I just thought it was how things were going to be for me; I didn't know any different. It was around my senior year that I started to become happy again. Looking back at it now, I dealt with my depression a few different way, good and bad.

Good Ways I Dealt:

1. God
I was the good little Christian girl throughout high school. I went to church every Sunday. I didn't get into trouble. I prayed and read my bible on a regular basis. I struggled with putting everything into His hands; I gave Him as much as I thought I could. They always say, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," and I kept that with me through it all. When I would start to be overwhelmed or when I broke down, I reminded myself that God didn't have me go through this for nothing. He's preparing me for something, and I have to fight through this to find out what. 

2. Confided in others
The times that putting my faith in God failed me, I confided in others. I had plenty of people who would listen to me: my cousin, boyfriend(s), youth leaders, a select few friends, and even a stranger every now and then. Having someone there to talk to, whether they know you or not, is a wonderful thing. Being able to get it all off your chest to someone who will listen and not try to fix everything for you is exactly what I needed the majority of the time. Even if it's just one person that you tell everything to, it can go a long way. I want to thank my best friend who's actually my best cousin for being there for me through it all. It's "us against the world" forever and always. I love you!

3. Dance
Like every other athlete out there, exercise was always a great way to relieve stress. Dance was not only a stress relief, it was a depression relief for me. I went to the studio as much as I possibly could so I could be surrounded by fellow dancers, faculty who loved me, and music to express my deepest of pains and help me escape from the world outside. When I was dancing I was many things-- a dancer, student, teacher, assistant, and friend-- but most importantly I was a part of a dance family that loved, supported, and encouraged one another. I had never felt more a part of anything than I did (still do when I can go back) at that studio. So, thank you to all of those who made a difference in my life there. You know who you are.

4. Faked a smile 90% of the time
No one knew I was so unhappy, because I mastered the fake smile. I was able to hold in my negative feelings throughout an entire day and save it for my pillow. I found a way to pretend I was always in a good mood or just content with everything. I didn't voice my opinions and I only vented about them when it was necessary and to people I could trust. There were off days (hence 90%) but for the most part, when I was around people I was "happy." Because of this, I was called a "beautiful spirit" by those who knew me only in public. Well, behind every beautiful spirit there's a story.

Not So Good Ways:

1. Cried myself to sleep 
Referring back to "Faked a smile 90% of the time" I said I saved my feelings for my pillow. Unfortunately this happened more often than not. I feel emotions very deeply. Which means I have a lot of built up emotion I had held in a given day. Tears would come when my lights went off, and they wouldn't stop. I couldn't tell you when the tears stopped and sleep began the majority of nights in high school. It wasn't healthy, I know. But it happened.

2. Negative thoughts
I won't spend to much time on this, but I'm sure it's clear what this means. There was one time I didn't want to make it through my shower. There were many occasions when I thought, how simple it'd be to just crash my van and be done. Luckily, I never allowed myself to get that far gone in my mind. I reminded myself to call that one person when I thought like that because I promised him I would.

3. Cut
I hate to admit it, but I think I need to. There were exactly four times I cut myself. Now, I am way too weak of a person (no matter how much pain I feel) to hurt myself badly enough to leave a scar. I would use my van key and do it until I stopped crying and started focusing too much on what I was doing. I only drew blood two of those four times because I snapped back to reality and remembered to call someone instead. I was lucky enough to be able to do that. Not everyone gets that choice or wants it.

4. Relied on relationships to identify myself
Finally, the absolute worst way I dealt with my depression. Yes, all these other things were not that great and honestly most people consider them the worst. I don't. I relied on my relationship with a boyfriend to define who I was as a person. That is not okay by any means. No one should ever feel like they can't live their life without another person by their side. That is a privilege not a necessity. I didn't think I could go a day without feeling like I was someone's girlfriend. The longest I was single in high school was about three months. But even in that time I was trying to get back with my high school sweetheart. That is just something no person should ever do to themselves. Every person is worthy and capable of an independent life. It's only when we can figure out how to do that the right person will come along.

Well, there you have it. I have gotten another thing off my chest, and you have learned another aspect of who I am and who I was as a person. I repeat from the last post: I am not looking for anyone to say they wish they would have known or they would have helped or I should have told them or anything along those lines. I'm not looking for help because I fixed myself with the help of the few who did know. I learned and grew stronger from it.

Until next time,


Jenny Kim said...

The depression you had sounds crippling. I can imagine what you had to go through early in life with losing your mom. But it sounds like you are better now, so just keep doing what you are doing to make it through each day. Thanks for sharing your story.

Kay said...

Thank you Jenny. It was difficult to say the least, but I am so much better now. Very very happy (: Thank you for reading my story! It means a lot.