Today's guest post was written by our social media volunteer Lauren. That's her new foot tattoo, as shared on our Instagram recently. We're so proud of Lauren for sharing her story and what she's learned so far about living with depression with our community.
6. Taking medication is nothing to be ashamed about.
For so long, I tried to avoid medication. I did everything my therapist told me and I put in all the work I possibly could. I even relocated to remove myself from the negative situations I was in but nothing was working and I was only getting worse. When I finally started taking medications, it took some time, but I ended up feeling much better. I could get out of bed every day and function much better. I was nervous of what people would think but now I’m happy to be on medication. I like being able to function (for the most part) and I like feeling productive. I now have no fear about taking my meds. They are not for everyone, but if they work for you, embrace it and don’t be ashamed!
5. Not everyone is going to understand and that’s okay.
When I was struggling the most, I wanted my best friends to get me and to understand. I wanted them to hear me and just listen. I wanted them to understand that their version of tired and mine were different. My brain didn’t work the same way that theirs did. I used to get really frustrated at one friend in particular because she just wasn’t getting it. Every time I explained my exhaustion she explained she was even more exhausted. Every time I tried to explain how difficult it was for me to get out of bed, she explained it was harder for her. She was trying to relate but I knew it wasn’t the same. After what I felt was a long battle of trying to get her to understand, I finally came to the realization that its okay that she doesn’t. In fact, I am glad she doesn’t understand. I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone. I took this realization as an opportunity. I was beginning to learn which friends I could go to depending on what my needs were at that moment. And, as I have to remind myself sometimes, that’s okay. It truly is.
4. Sleep and routine are crucial.
I used to be able to stay up all night and wake up early, go to work and still function normally. That is no longer the case. I learned quickly that I was going to need a routine and a lot of sleep. I am constantly working to maintain my routine and learn how to be flexible when necessary but at least now, I am aware how important this is for my mental health.
3. My depression is not cured.
There was part of me that thought once I acknowledged my diagnosis and went on meds, all would be well and my struggle would be over. Every day, I work to keep up my overall health. For the most part at this point, I have good days. Sometimes, I even have great days. I can openly talk about my depression and I feel confident in my recovery and the wellness path that I am on. However, I have my days. I have my days where I can’t get out of bed, or shower, or eat. I have those days where my routine falls apart and my day is chaos. But for me, the difference is that I know that won’t last forever. I treat every day as band new day and opportunity. Sometimes, I fall, but now I know I have the tools and strength to get back up.
2. I (we) are not alone.
For so long, I felt completely alone. I thought I was the only one who was too exhausted to shower or who could not get out of bed. I thought I was the only one drowning myself in alcohol to numb the pain. I was ashamed, embarrassed and scared. How was I ever going to make it through this? Was this pain and emptiness ever going to go away? I cannot express how appreciative I was to discover that I was not alone. In fact, there were people out there sharing their stories so I knew I was not alone. There were people who wrote about their experiences and I could relate. It was a beautiful thing. I have been able to connect with so many wonderful people who have struggled with their mental health. We are a team. We fight together and we are absolutely NEVER alone and I couldn’t be more thankful.
1. I am grateful for my diagnosis.
It seems like an odd thing to say that I am grateful for my depression, but I really am. It was a wakeup call for me and ever since, I have been determined to change certain things in my life. I want to be healthy and I deserve that opportunity. Since I have been diagnosed, I have met some truly amazing people and I have opened my heart to opportunities I didn’t even know existed. Instead of being fearful of this journey, I am doing my best to embrace it. I realized I was not taking care of myself and I wasn’t going to make it continuing down the path I was on. Now, I am sharing my story, connecting with others and fighting to end the mental health stigma. I am truly grateful.
Lauren Kenney is a 28 year old living in Washington, DC and was recently diagnosed with depression. Since being diagnosed, Lauren discovered her passion for ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and is so grateful she has been given the opportunity to share her story and educate others on mental health. She enjoys volunteering with mental health organizations and is thankful for good therapy, yoga, and meditation.