My #BeReal guest today is Abbie.
More than once, Abbie has been on the other end of one of my tear filled messages. Like many who suffer from depression you wouldn’t know by looking at her, or even working next to her that she lives with “suffers from” Major Depressive Disorder. Please welcome my friend Abbie!
There was a time when I imagined a future filled with dreams and hope. I thought my trusting nature and compassion towards others would guide me in my passions toward a meaningful and fulfilling life. I believed in the friendships I spent time cultivating and nurturing, taking pride in being the best friend I could be. I loved college and never doubted my elders when they said I would find my place in the world upon graduating. I had goals of getting my master’s degree, not only to further my education and career, but mainly because I loved academia. Being successful in whatever path I ended up choosing was my destiny because I was driven and intelligent.
I was a vibrant young girl who believed everything I went through would only make me stronger and better equipped to impact the world in positive ways. I didn’t know then that I would spend the rest of my life fighting for my sanity and survival. I didn’t know the fight would be against my own brain, a battle invisible to everyone around me. I didn’t know that nearly all of my longest-known and best friends would abandon me because, in their words, they couldn’t handle my illness. I didn’t know it would destroy my plans for a career, or make my dreams of motherhood become enormously ‘at-risk.’ I didn’t know depression would slowly, painstakingly strip me of the person I thought I was – the person I dreamed I would be.
Now, my truth is different. In my eyes, in my heart, I am a failure.
Every single thing changes when you have to fight for your life. Depression has the ability to change aspects of your personality. It has the power to destroy all logical and intelligent thought processes. And it is capable of convincing you that death is the only way to stop the madness. Any insecurity you’ve ever had is magnified tenfold. You doubt every decision you’ve ever made and every decision you’re about to make. While your soul craves social connection and understanding to keep you grounded, people largely don’t understand, which is a deeply isolating feeling. Then isolating becomes second nature and I think that’s when I started to slowly lose tiny pieces of my spark.
I graduated from high school and college, just as I was told I needed to do in order to be successful. After college I spent four years battling a severe depressive episode. Those are important years for a college graduate. You work as an intern, make connections, figure out what your options are and how to get where you want to end up. I was in intensive outpatient treatment five days a week. I checked myself into a psychiatric unit at the local hospital for four days at one point. I could barely hold down a retail job. By the time the episode lifted I had a four-year gap to explain to prospective employers and I could only find part-time jobs. I worked in the field for a few years, I never found a single full-time position, and I certainly couldn’t make a living. I was miserable. My degree had proven to be another failure. A very expensive piece of paper that is worthless. I let my parents down and I’ve let myself down. I have a full-time job now that has nothing to do with my field of study and I make ten dollars an hour. This is a failure to me. Once again, I have not reached my potential. I know there are many people in the same position as myself, or worse. I sound ungrateful, I sound like a selfish snob. I am neither but how I sound is not the point, it’s how I feel.
During the four years of that episode I lost every friend I ever had except one, and one other has reached out to me since. I don’t blame them. I was depressed beyond measure and awful then, but I am forever changed by their abandonment. I’ve lost faith in the compassion of others, and I am scared, maybe even unwilling to let anyone as close to me again. Being judged for something I have no control over and to be found wanting empowers depression’s voice that I am not enough. My experiences have also weakened my compassion for others, which was once a defining characteristic of my personality.
I currently take ten pills between the time I wake up and the time I go to bed, sometimes more if my anxiety is high. I also take the depo-provera contraceptive injection in an effort to keep my hormones level, otherwise, two weeks of every month I am overwhelmed with suicidal ideations. I take a fish oil pill with the highest concentration of EPA on the market because 1000-2000mg of EPA per day has been shown in studies to help patients with depression. I still cry nearly every day. When I’m not crying I feel more numb than anything. The meds have affected my memory, my ability to focus and think clearly, and they have affected my personality. I no longer have a sex drive. At all. I’ve been on all of the meds that are supposed to have lower sexual side effects, they didn’t help my depression or my sex drive. I had to explain all of this to my husband and convince him it had nothing to do with him. Sexuality was once a fun and playful aspect of my personality that I enjoyed, as most people do, but it’s just not there anymore.
The person I thought I was is now fragmented and scattered at best. Depression has ripped holes in and torn pieces from the young vibrant girl who began this war. Years of treatments, pills, doctors, failures, and a never ending emotional roller coaster have taken their toll. I feel like a science experiment. I have very little self-confidence or self-worth. My dignity is paper thin, I don’t know where the medication ends and my personality begins anymore. I fear I am fading away like the color in an old photograph. Those tiny sparks that kept being chipped away added up, now I’m not sure there’s any spark left. Honestly, I’m exhausted – I don’t want to live this way.
Hasty convinced me that telling my story, the raw honest unfiltered version would make a difference. I have to be honest, depression tells me I shouldn’t. That I’ll sound worthless and pathetic. But one thing I’ve learned is that silence is NOT the answer. Being real is hard because this is my truth. I know it’s ugly and I am not seeking sympathy. My story is just one of millions who live with major depressive disorder and have not found an effective treatment.
Abbie is a published poet & established writer, paid to write website content & maintain a professional blog. Abbie has lived with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of her life. She finds comfort and release in writing about her journey and has found many others who do as well. She created this page in an effort towards education, awareness, fighting stigma and cultivating community. For more about her personal journey start here.