Yesterday, I was driving on the I-5 freeway from West Seattle heading home after a company softball game. We had just lost the game in the bottom of the last inning, 11-12. Regardless, during and after that game I was the happiest I had been in weeks.
As I let my mind wander listening to my favorite (self-shoutout) me-crafted, Spotify playlist for driving, I had a few realizations that drove me to write this post. (p.s. dropping the link to that playlist here -->)
Vibey Music For a Long Drive- Spotify Playlist
I consider myself politically active. During campaign seasons, I volunteer canvassing and phone banking for candidates in my spare time. When asked about the issues that I find closest to my heart, one that always comes to mind is mental health. The importance of mental health could never be overstated in my opinion. How you are mentally will shape how you view the world around you, how you treat your neighbors and loved ones, and ultimately how you sleep with your thoughts at night.
For many people, mental illness is a deeply personal issue, one that needs drastic support and recognition from the American government. Now, back to driving down I-5.
As I drove down the freeway, my mind wandering post softball game loss, I realized I'm depressed. No, I didn't self-diagnose myself in a fury of feelings due to losing in the last inning (although I wish it were that simple), I realized once again, that I am still depressed. From my last two years attending University, it's become abundantly clear to me how quiet I truly have been about my clinical depression. My closest friends tell me that I used to be the bubbliest person in the world, but somewhere along the way things changed. For someone who deeply cares about fighting the stigma around mental illness, I've been awfully quiet about my own experiences living with it.
Now at this point, if you struggle with depression you may understand the feeling I'm getting at here. The feeling of having a wonderful day, life, career, family, or relationship and still not physically be able to produce enough happy to meet other people's energy. Or, the feeling of going from being extremely happy, to extremely sad in a matter of seconds. For me, having both depression & anxiety feels as though I'm never doing enough or constantly imagining worst case scenarios. Whereas depression often feels like a muted, toned down version of the person I am. A shell of the bubbly person my friends recall from our younger years.
I was officially diagnosed with depression when I was in my mid-teens. Thinking back on those years, I spent a lot of time trying to fit a mold I thought was expected of me and I was scared of being noticed for falling out of a universal path. Maybe it was my academically rigorous public high school, but the pressure became overwhelming. I think it's difficult for people who don't have any form of mental illness to fully understand something they've physically never felt before. Constantly feeling like a piece of your energy and desire to live are both missing.
Now, this has been a long blog post and it's the first of more honest truths and stories dealing with mental illness I'll be sharing here. I'll talk about my experiences dealing with mental illness in the "real" working world, medications and therapies I've tried, and the ways I find time for my own self care.
Thank you for being here and for reading part of my story.
If you read this and know me, please let me know: was I really that bubbly?
Political Side Note: Also, I'll be talking about just how true the image below is. Many groups - low income, people of color, people with physical disabilities, etc.- dealing with mental illness are at even greater risk to commit suicide due to undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.