Hi friends. This post is going to be the most personal one that I’ve ever written. It’s going to be very personal and emotional and at times hard to write, but that is the exact reason that I wanted to write it. Because it needs to be talked about.
You see friends, for about a year and a half, I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety.
What?! DEPRESSION?!? No no NO! It’s not cool to even say the word depression, let alone admit that you might have it, right?
The word depression is a lot like the word Voldemort. People are terrified to even say the word. They cringe at even the slightest whisper of it. If you are brave enough to speak the word then you better beprepared to face the intense social backlash that comes with it. This is why I’m sharing my story with all of you. It’s time for me to talk about it. It’s time to end the stigma.
I know what you all might be thinking. There’s absolutely no way that Court could be depressed, right? She always seems so happy and chipper and always willing to make people laugh and always having such a good time with life! Well, that’s exactly what I thought myself. There was just no way that I could be depressed. It could NEVER happen to me because I’m Courtney Liebl and nothing ever gets to me or brings me down!
As it turns out, I was very wrong about that.
About a year and a half ago, I started feeling out of sorts. I didn’t feel like myself. I just attributed it to the stress of senior year of college and always worrying about classes or homework or the ever-impending doom of graduating and going into the real world. I just kept telling myself “don’t worry about it, you’re fine. All of the other graduating seniors are probably feeling the exact same way that you are so just suck it up and deal with it.” So naturally, the school year came and went and I graduated and all that jazz and I just swept it under the rug and sucked it up and that was that. I realized that the real world was coming whether I liked it or not and so I just put my mental health on the back burner for the time being.
But that’s the thing with depression; it will lie dormant and quiet for however the hell long that it pleases and then when it’s ready it will come along and show its ugly face whether you’re ready or not. Depression doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t give a shit how nice of a person you are or how much money you have or how great you think your life is. Depression just does not give a shit.
Recently, the depression has decided to creep back into my life and has slapped me in the face harder than anything I have ever experienced before. At first, I denied it. I ran as far away from it as I could. I was so far deep into denial that it wasn’t even funny. Because again, it wouldn’t be cool of me to admit that I suffer from a mental illness, right?
So for about the past few months or so, I’ve been really struggling with it. Add into the mix extreme anxiety and it was like a mental health tornado that I couldn’t escape from. All of the things that I love to do that would usually give me so much joy just seemed like a chore. I used to love to go to the library and aimlessly wander around and look at books because it was one of those simple things that made me so happy. Now just the thought of having to get up and go out in public to get to the library fills me with extreme dread. I used to love to go grocery shopping because it was weirdly one of those things that was very soothing to me. But now it makes me so terribly anxious that it takes me about three days to summon the courage to even make it into the store. Even answering texts back to my friends and family and talking with them, which has always been the thing that brings me the most joy, has lost the happiness that it used to bring me. I even joined a gym because Legally Blonde taught me that endorphins make people happy, but I stopped going after two times because my depression was saying “why even bother?”
My anxiety has gotten so bad that I am constantly in a state of panic and stress. When it seems that things are at ease and my anxiousness is at a stand still, that lovely little anxious voice inside my head rears its ugly face and brings up all of these completely irrational scenarios or things that could go wrong and then my anxiety just goes bananas. It has gotten to a point to where the only thing that I really look forward to anymore is sleeping, because it gives me a chance to escape the feelings of dread that my depression brings and to shut my brain off for a few hours.
I knew that I had a serious problem. I knew that I was dealing with an illness that wasn’t going to go away on its own. I knew that I had to reach out and get help. It took me almost an entire month to work up the courage to even tell a few of my close and dear friends what was happening. My anxiety told me that they would judge me and think that I was weak for feeling this way. One of my dear friends pointed out, “that voice of anxiety may be powerful but it is NEVER right.” So I finally admitted that I had a problem.
That was the first time that I had ever told anyone what was happening.
That was the first small step that I needed to take in order to move forward. Because this is a marathon, not a sprint. And any steps forward, no matter how big or small, are positive steps in the right direction. That one small step of reaching out to my friends and family has already helped tremendously, and it’s given me the courage to call and schedule an appointment with a professional. It took me about three more weeks to work up the courage to make the call to set up the appointment, so I would consider that about five steps in the right direction!
I know that I have a long and tough journey ahead of me. Hell, it’s already been a long and tough journey already. I know that there will be very good days and there will also be very bad days. That’s one of the most frustrating things about depression; sometimes I’ll have a week where every day is great and I feel awesome and then sometimes there will be a stretch where it will be nothing but bleak and grey days.
I’ve learned to just take everything day by day. I’ve also learned that those bleak and dreary days sure do make me appreciate the good days that much more.
I hope that by sharing my story with all of you that I’m able to help someone else who may be struggling. I hope that I’m able to give someone else the courage to speak up when they feel like there’s nowhere else to turn and they feel lost. Always remember that your mental illness does not define you. You are not weak. You are not a burden. You are not your mental illness.
I have depression and anxiety. My depression and anxiety do not define me. I am not weak. I am not a burden. I am stronger than this mental illness. I am not my mental illness.