When I first started dealing with depression, I didn’t know that’s what it was. I just knew I was different. I’d keep calling out of school sick, I lost interest in absolutely everything that ever brought me joy, and I just remember being in the dark… literally. I either slept the day away or stayed up all night, roaming through the depths of the internet trying to find something… ANYTHING that would make me feel normal. All I could feel was guilt and shame for making everyone around me hate me. Everyone thought I was lazy… honestly, I started to believe them. I was 16, and my doctor put me on antidepressants, but they made me feel worse, so I stopped.
A few years ago my depression became really obvious, and a really bad situation with a friend intensified my anxiety - I didn’t even know I had anxiety until I got so bad I could barely function. I got myself out of that situation FAST, and I added myself to the mental health waitlist. Three months until I could get an evaluation. That’s how long I had to survive for. Just three months.
Two years of ongoing therapy and two months of antidepressants has made this whole journey manageable, but there are still days when I struggle to get out of bed. Those are the days I feel the guiltiest. It’s not ME, even though it IS me. I never know how to explain it. I’m normally a happy, bubbly person who loves to dress up and love on people and travel the world! I am patient, loving, and understanding. But when my depression and anxiety show up? I feel...nothing. Everything irritates me, I can’t brush my hair, and I consider it a successful day if I feed myself more than a couple calories.
As a health and wellness coach, the days I struggle with my mental health make me feel like a fraud. I’m INCREDIBLE at what I do, but it all depends on IF I can show up - for my clients, sure… but also for myself.
In the beginning of my awareness, it felt impossible to live a normal life. No one understood what was WRONG with me, and it always came back to “but there’s nothing wrong with your life. Do you need money? Why don’t you just tell ME your problems? You’re always so positive. Maybe you just need to keep being positive.”
Over time I’ve learned that mental health looks different for everyone. Depression and anxiety are two separate things, but even my depression and anxiety looks different from someone else’s. Honestly my depression and anxiety look different day to day. Some days one shows up without the other, some days they’re both raging, but most days now? Most days they’re fairly quiet.
Although I’d never wish any of this on my worst enemy, I’m grateful for the person I’ve become because of my struggles. Most of all, mental health isn’t a topic of conversation JUST for those affected by the negative effects it has on individuals and the communities they are part of. Mental health should be something we are ALL aware of. The same way we go to the dentist for a checkup or our physician for a physical, we should be checking in with therapists regularly and advocating for a stronger understanding of what mental health actually is. We wouldn’t write people off when they have cancer just because we don’t also have it - so why the heck do we write people off when they struggle with their mental health?
I still feel ashamed and unworthy when depression and anxiety pop up. I’m a full time nanny and a business owner, so believe me, I GET the feelings of inadequacy. But slowly, I’m learning to love myself (and all that comes with me) all over again.
#dontcallmecrazy. My name is Jenn, and I have #depression and #anxiety, but they do not have me.
- Jenn Cutlipp, 2018