Friday, May 26, 2017

A Letter to my Depression

Dear Depression,

We've known each other for a while now. Coming up on eleven years, in fact. When you first showed up in my life, I wasn't quite sure what you were. I recognized that I was sadder than normal, but I was fourteen, dealing with an undiagnosed illness, moving to a new state, and trying to make friends. There were a lot of things I was trying to combat and you found your home in that struggle. I remember you telling me that it would be easier if it all just stopped. I wouldn't be sick anymore and I would no longer have to feel the way I was feeling. You were an enemy I was fighting off without even realizing it.

Fast-forward to the next year, when you decided to take a break from me. I had wonderful friends, was learning how to manage my illness, and enjoyed life for the most part. I thought my bout of sadness had surpassed, believing it was only situational and that I wouldn't need to deal with you again.

Then you came back with a force of lighting my first year of college. It was the first time I introduced myself to you, learning you had a name: Depression. I finally told someone about you and she explained everything. Dr. S. helped us become friends. She explained that you were a chemical imbalance in my body. While dealing with my illness, my body had exerted itself too much to also remember to continually produce the correct amount of serotonin. I burned through my full day's worth before lunch, which allowed you to re-emerge.

That's when I learned that you would be with me for life. There would be times when we were attached at the hip and times when we'd take space. But what mattered was that I accepted you and become your friend. Thus began a new adventure. That day, we started taking Sertraline, a serotonin supplement, to help us get along. Unfortunately, during that time, another chronic illness began to emerge, leading me to take time off school. During that time, I suffered heartbreak and loneliness, two things you thrived on.

I had never really understood how serious and all-encompassing your friendship was. I was consumed by you. My days during those three months were spent in a tough mind-space. I was questioning a lot things and trying to understand why you picked me. I already had two chronic illnesses, I didn't need a third. I started to speak to a therapist about you once a week. I, however, never truly felt comfortable expressing those feelings to her, so ultimately stopped when I went back to school in the spring. During this time, we decided to up my dose of Sertraline.

It's been six years since Sertraline was introduced into my daily schedule and six years since I started to see a difference in my behavior. For the majority of that time, you left me alone, allowing Sertraline to intervene on my behalf. Until these last few months, I hadn't given you much thought. I'd pushed through and overcome your influence. But then you showed up. I haven't wanted to admit to anyone that you'd entered my life again, because it felt like defeat. I'm still taking my antidepressant, so why are you here? This time period in my life has been full of change and uncertainty in my future. It's brought up a lot of questions about where I want my life to be and where I want to live it. Apparently, that's where you've found your new home. You've given up on loneliness and found uncertainty. I'm working every day to show you that your friendship is one that doesn't need to be prominent. You can be a silent partner in the background, while I continue to find joy in the things around me.

The most frustrating part about your friendship is not knowing when you're going to show your face. It could be in a weak moment a couple of days from now or a feeling of loss in a few years. Everyday I fight to keep you at bay. I never let myself give in to your friendship - a constant battle between you and my own happiness.

However devastating it can be, you've taught me more about myself than I thought possible. I've learned to embrace you, call you a friend. You're something that connects me to others that have also found your friendship. You've allowed me to be in tune with my own emotions. I can decipher between sadness and depression, because trust me, there's a difference. You've made me stronger, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Until next time, your friend,
Ainsley

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