Thursday, July 6, 2017

Beautiful Struggle.

I have depression. Some people will tell you that depression is a beautiful struggle to have. Depression is often romanticized by society, something pretty girls with dark pasts have, a disease full of tragic slides down the wall, ending in pretty cry face, musical sobs, a song so sad you'd cry too if you heard it.

Fuck. That. Shit. Because of this "beautiful struggle" view of depression, it's not taken as seriously as it should be. Suddenly depression is trendy, anyone having a bad day is "depressed", those who actually suffer from a serious illness written off easily as another Millennial desperate for attention. Do you know how hard it is to find qualified mental health care in this country? It's really freaking hard.

Depression, and mental health issues in general, are anything but beautiful. I can tell you from experience that out of all the things that depression is not, beautiful would be top of the list. I know beautiful people who depression, but that does not make it beautiful in any means. This disease is hideous. It's disgusting. At my best I've not showered for at least a day, at my worst I haven't showered, brushed my hair, or changed my clothes in a week or more.

Lack of motivation reaches to more than just not wanting to get out of bed and being "Sleeping Beauty" all day. It reaches down into your soul, convincing you to quit your job so you can stay in bed longer, to quit doing things you love so you don't have to leave the house, to give up regular hygiene so you can stay in bed, and as an added bonus, don't have to leave the house, because you're disgusting now. Who wants to be around a nappy haired filth person with bad breath? No one. So you stay at home, in bed, running out of money, running out of patience with yourself, with the world. Why do you matter? Why does the world matter? None of it does and that thought goes around and around in your head. Your stomach will growl, but you'll ignore it, because who wants to get out of bed to make themselves food? There's half a granola bar on the bedstand table. You'll eat it around 9 tonight. That's not beautiful. That's part of depression and it is horrid.

When people tell me what a "beautiful struggle" depression is, I think of what I must have looked like the first time I tried to commit suicide, tube down my throat, IV in my arm, my stomach contents being pumped into a bag, vomit coming out of my mouth, mascara running down my face. I was pale and gaunt, a familiar look when I'm at my most depressed. I had been rushed out of the house by my boyfriend so none of my clothes matched, my shoes were half tied, my hair in a bun that was falling out. The second time I was wearing a Christmas sweater in January, paired with some too big sweatpants, mismatched striped socks, and a pair of chic booties. I spent a large part of the night vomiting into little blue bags in the ER, curled up in a hospital bed, hugging myself until my Aunt arrived. My face, doing that pale and gaunt thing again, was thankfully free of makeup, and I didn't have to get the stomach pump, but I was constantly retching from the pills I had taken. This is not beautiful. This is a horrible sight to see. I could feel what I looked like each time, and it wasn't good.

My depression was written off for a long while as a cry for attention. That if I was given more love by those around me, I would get better, my abandonment issues would go away, I would quit laying in bed wishing I could just waste away, knowing that there is no meaning to any of this, we are all going to die and then nothing will come of us after that, and there's no point believing otherwise. At one doctor appointment I briefly mentioned that during my periods my mood swings got exceptionally bad, bordering on full on depression, leading me to take time off work while I was on my period. My doctor told me that was common and that it wasn't serious. I actually had a few doctors tell me that my worries that I was depressed or anxious weren't serious. It wasn't until I had my stomach pumped that I was finally diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Nothing about it was beautiful. Nothing about this was pretty. It was agonizing. I was hopeless. I'm still hopeless most of the time.

My point here, while all jumbled and messy, is that nothing about this debilitating disease is beautiful. That nothing about any mental health issue is beautiful. I wish it was. I wish I could openly tell people when I first met them that I had depression and know they would just think I was a more beautiful soul. But that's just not so. I used to hide my depression as long as possible because I was afraid of losing friends, of being someone who guys wouldn't want to date, of being abandoned. Honestly, these are still things I fear. Because depression has never been and will never be a romantic disease to have.

This thing is ugly, and evil, and ruins lives. Don't believe anything else.

Alexis Olmstead is just your average 20something living and working out of Seattle, Washington. When she's not spending ungodly amounts of time sleeping, Alexis enjoys exploring her new neighborhood, taking photos, and daydreaming of being a Broadway superstar. For more sporadic updates about life, love, and some other stuff, check back occasionally. 


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