Allow me to show you my thought process.
Me: Why are you writing about this again? You sound obsessed.
Me 2: ….
And here I am. That is my thought cycle for most of the time. They say confidence is sexy. This is not sexy. Being constantly unsure of myself has me bored on so many degrees. Picking the kind of socks to wear to bed becomes a whole thing, peppered with everything “wrong” I did and said over the weekend.
I am getting better at not obsessing about my thoughts but overall, battling and managing depression is hard. Taking a shower is right up there on the list of achievements along with brushing your teeth. When I write here, I do so to educate people through my experience. I want people to know they are not alone if they are going through depression, and secondly, if you know someone who’s showing signs of depression or they’ve verbalized it, it is as bad as they show and say it is.
I am glad that the media is bringing it to light, but I, like many others, are irritated by some narratives that are out there about depression. We are just getting over ‘wewe ni mwenda wazimu’ (your are crazy) stigma yet here we have people glorifying it. “I’m sooo depressed, like omg!”
I think the issue is lack of knowledge. Not everyone- actually only a handful of people- will sit down and read the DSM-5 so they won’t know what it actually means to say you’re depressed or suffering from a mental illness. I suppose I am also ignorant in some ways like when I say that my period cramps are hell while another person will end up in hospital for the same.
In that regard I’m finding that I have to be more sensitive to people who are going through something I cannot relate with. As a good friend said, she doesn’t understand mental illness, but she can only try and listen and support me instead of assuming and trying to relate, because she can’t. And that’s what we need more of.
Another example of how NOT to glorify mental illness: I’ve had panic attacks but I cannot say I suffer from anxiety because they happened all of three times. Sure, they were bad, but it would be pretentious of me to throw in “I also suffer from anxiety,” never mind I don’t have a diagnosis for that. And yes, I’ll get a second opinion on the diagnosis of bipolar II and questionable singular sign pointing to psychosis. If you’re seeing a psychiatrist, I suggest you do the same.
I’d be so happy to come here and say “something is definitely wrong with my neurotransmitters but thank God it’s just a bad case of depression.” If it’s not… oh well!
We soldier on. Not because we feel like it, but because we are warriors.