It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

It had been a solid start of the month for me. I could get out of bed, go about my day without it feeling like that Depression Mixture TM of being both bland and dull and yet so violent that it could almost bring me to tears. I slept for up to 7 hours a night and the idea that no matter what I did, I would horrendously fuck things up, had dissipated. I finally started to think that far from being CEO of my brain and calling all the shots, my depression had been relegated to the status of a subpar temp, showing a couple of times a week at most to make copies and get coffee orders wrong. But I was mistaken.

I tricked myself. Depression, much like embarrassing memories of events on a night out, or endless TV reruns of How I Met Your Mother, or the McRib burger, never really goes away. Despite my best efforts, I had reverted to my status of human puddle. My self-confidence played hide-and-go-seek, and my ability to get things done, from getting out of bed to tackling my dissertation, had withered away faster than my house-mates’ willingness to uphold a cleaning rota. My first and usual instinct was to get irrationally mad at myself. I felt better, and I didn’t anymore and somehow this was my doing, it was my fault. I was an idiot for not being able to gure out how to fix it, and ultimately, myself. Other people were capable of leading normal lives, and I was a loser for failing to do so. In those moments, it’s hard for me to remember that my brain and body chemistry are simply different than most people’s. I imagine their brains look like a flux capacitor, while mine resembles the insides of a Henry the Hoover hot-wired together with a toaster someone threw out. That’s not bad, just different.

Coming to terms with the fact that much like my uneven jawline and slight scoliosis, my depression will never go away, and forever be a part of me, was one the hardest things I ever had to do. Accepting and remembering and moving on. I know my ‘happy triggers’– things that I can do or think about to get me out of most of my funks, but depression has a way to blur minds and make logic seems so far out of reach. Depression feels like what uorescent lights sound like: a constant, dull buzzing that makes it hard to focus on what’s in front of me, especially if it happens to be good. Happiness and joy icker but never burn bright.

My mind is on the same old loop: I’m a failure, I’ve done so many terrible things in my life that I deserve to feel bad forever, I am alone, and it will always be that way. I am unlovable.I’m a piece of shit. Every good thing I’ve ever had I’ve ruined. Everything I try to achieve I fail at. It would be better for everyone if I just went ahead and offed myself.

These are feelings. Feelings aren’t facts. I am wading through the muck right now, remembering the good things I have done with my life and the positive impact I can have on other people. I try to remember that I am loved. I look through pictures. I read old birthday and Christmas cards. It’s pathetic and sad but it helps and that’s what matters. I always feel like the negative feelings are unique to me. I know that is not the case. I don’t want to harm myself, I just want to hit the reset button and start over. Clean slate my brain. Start afresh.

I’m writing about what I’m feeling not because I expect a Pity Party or some empathy and attention, but because I want anyone else living through it to know you’re not alone. It’s so easy for me to tell someone to take a shower, go for a walk, reach out for help, or a million other ways I’ve learned how to cope. But having been in the thick of it again, I remember that when you’re depressed, you wake up buried in quicksand. Reaching out to grab a phone takes a monumental amount of strength. Making a meal is a Herculean effort. Everything is easier said than done.

I am going to do my best to keep tell- ing my friends and loved ones what I’m going through and not tell people I’m doing, “just fine” when they ask. I don’t know when this dark fog will li , when this Black Dog will trot along. It could be tomorrow or a year from now. But if you’re reading this right now and you relate, I hope you can turn your brain o for just a m ment and remember that you matter, to try and be as kind and compassionate towards yourself as you are to others. Keep fighting the good fight.

I don’t have any advice today, I just want to remind you that it’s okay to not feel okay.

If you do need more urgent support: contact your GP or the out of hours NHS 111. You can also use the Samaritans number 116 123. If you need to check in with someone go along to one of the wellbeing drop-in sessions at the Student Services Helpdesk, they run every day out of 4W on campus or in the Virgil building http:// www.bath.ac.uk/guides/welfare-and-wellbeing-advice/


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