I have a challenge of deciding which verb tense to use when describing my mental health to others. When I tell friends that I have depression and anxiety, they look at me a bit confused since I seem okay, and they are right, I am okay right now. My mental health is pretty stable at the moment, but depression and anxiety are lifelong illnesses. This is why I feel the correct tense is to say that I have it, since there is a chance I could be dealing with it again in the future.
Is that a pessimistic way of looking at things? That’s another question I also ponder. I do have a lot of faith and will-power that I will not have another major depressive episode, but that seems to be a bit too optimistic and an oblivious way of thinking, missing out on the reality of things. On the other hand I feel like if I say that I had a mental illness, that I will jinx myself for thinking too optimistically.
The way I see mental illness is it’s like having a heart condition. Let’s compare having a mental health breakdown to having a heart attack. For both you would have to had gone to a hospital, and both require a slow recovery to return to your daily life. To prevent the incident from happening again, you would need to proceed with caution and be careful about your lifestyle choices. Although you may never experience a heart attack again, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart condition and don’t have to be careful anymore. Much like mental health, just because I’m not crying and in my bed all day, doesn’t mean I no longer have depression.
Although, I seem generally happy, content, and calm with my life, I do still need to be aware of my moods and mental states, and to keep a balance in my life. My mental illness is not something of the far past, to push away from my memories forever, but a reminder to not forget about my mental health.
About Elena B.
Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.