the last six years


i gave a speech at the student mental health panel a few days ago.  it was probably a mediocre speech but it was fun and a good crowd and i felt good afterwards.

i always said i would tell my friends and trumpet around when i had finally won my 'battle' against depression.  again, i don't think it's a battle.  it is a reality.  and i never really did that, and i never will.  but this is a post to say one thing: i'm still here, and i'm proud of that.  but i'm not proud of myself for staying alive; that doesn't feel noble or courageous at all.  i'm proud because i have learned to love the darkest version of myself.  and that is why i do not want to erase the last six years.  and that is why i'm writing this post.

sometimes i feel like i've lost 6 years of my life.  i stayed in bed.  i wasn't a leader and i wasn't a champion and i didn't rise victorious in any great fight for something important.  and there are a lot of things i believe in fighting for. i wasn't the 'dynamo' i used to be and i didn't laugh with as much enthusiasm and my reality was generally just that i was living inside of myself.  this post will be for those six years of my life that would otherwise remain blank in any memoir.  because when you're depressed the world goes on without you.  so this is just that; the world never went on without me.  i was always a part of it.  (although i didn't know that at the time).  and this is just a little proof to myself that that is so.  i was something good in the world.

there are no more shocking details about depression i can reveal.  i have opened my heart and shown you my entire reality.  any other dark details i might share could be triggering, so i will keep them cradled in my mind.  but by and large, you know everything.  and i'm happy now.  as i was writing my speech i legitimately had to research my own writing to see how i felt.  granted, i remember a lot of things.

there are some things you don't forget.

i remember my friend calling me and crying because i didn't want to be alive anymore.  i remember you taking a knife from my hand and hiding it.  i remember nessie licking tears and mascara off my face like it was her one noble task in life.  i remember obsessive dreaming about drowning myself while sitting in a dark room in toronto.  i remember writing a poem called 'the world was not meant for me' and meaning every word of it.  i remember writing 'an ode to my depressive self' and having to convince myself that i had value.  and i remember every friend and every response i got to my first e-mail admitting my sadness to my friends and family, and every message i got from friends and strangers once i started writing my blog.

now.

for the sake of history, let's review.
in grade twelve i was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia, at the time), which the DSM lovingly dubs "double depression."  i'm actually not sure if that's in the most recent DSM, but it's in the notes of my doctors, at least.
i spent seven years in a crippling sadness.  during the last two years, i thought about suicide every day.  that sounds like i'm exaggerating but i promise you i'm not.  i promise you that because those kind of thoughts stick in your mind like dirty gum and you remember the days when the thoughts weren't there.  the thoughts were always there.



i somehow got a degree.
to this day, i cannot possibly imagine how i managed that.  i was miserable in the last two years of my degree.  i could barely walk, let alone write a paper.  and every time i walked to school i would cry about my most recently disintegrated romance and repeat 'i am worthless' over and over to the beat of my step.

after a year in ottawa studying and working on da hill, i am home.  in that year, i stayed in bed a lot.  i cried on my birthday because erin's flight was cancelled and i finally accepted that effexor just wasn't working for me.  and then by the time june rolled around, i was capable of working a real job with real hours.  by october, i was capable of working and then going home and cooking and watching netflix.  these are milestones you don't forget.  by the time i saw my psychiatrist when i had moved back in december, i had healed.  

i have already told you what i have learned from my unbearable sadness.
i have already told you how i learned to love my unbearably sad self.
i never know what to write about anymore.  that is why i barely post anymore.  but here i am.
and here you are.

the last six years of my life i have been essentially immobilized by my depression.  mental illness can and does do that.  but that doesn't make us worthless, or make us take up space, or any of that; it gives us a perspective, and often lets us love in a fantastic (though painful) way, and brings us into a world where everyone lives; into a world with real darkness.
and being able to see that is important.
and you glow, and are something good in the world. 

the last six years have stuck with me.  
and here they are for you.


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