I’m not going to pretend that life with depression is a walk in the park with the occasional drizzle. Depression is overwhelming. It starts small then slowly takes over your whole life. It affects the relationships you have and makes you lose parts of yourself – the ones who had interests and felt joy and passion. While my years as a depressed individual have been the worst, the hardship taught me many lessons.
Everyone has problems, you just can’t see it.
There are rare moments in my life where I do open up to someone and admit that I often feel sad or lonely, and I’m surprised by the responses I get. Sure, sometimes others’ problems are not on the same scale as a mental illness, but I often look around assume that everyone is put together and happy when that simply isn’t true. It doesn’t help that I live in the age of social media where a scroll through my Instagram feed showcases all the best moments from those I follow, which I illogically compare to the personal parts of my life.
However, it is impossible for anyone to go through life without coming across a couple of obstacles. My depression made it easy for me to fall into a ‘Why Me?’ mentality and even easier to feel like I was different than everyone else. But it also made me realize that people probably looked at me the same way. They probably had bad days too and silently cursed me for having better luck than they did. If only they knew.
You are never truly alone.
I know you’ve probably heard this one about a million times in your life. I’ve heard it a lot, too and I used to roll my eyes at this phrase. I was smart enough to know that I wasn’t the only person in the world to have depression but knowing only raised more questions for me. If other people feel that way, then how come nobody talks about it? How come we can’t seem to find a clear-cut solution?
I finally realized the importance of knowing that you are never alone a couple of months ago, when I started to experience feelings that weren’t typically tied to depression. It turns out that there’s a whole population online of people who also feel foggy in the mind, anxious to go outside or like their life is just passing them by. It’s helpful to know that even when you feel like a complete outsider, there’s one person who has been there and has survived.
Some good can come from the bad.
This lesson came to me in 9th grade. We were assigned a project in English class where we had to write about a time in our life that changed us. A turning point, it was called. For weeks, I worried about what I was going to write. I didn’t exactly experience much in my life. Eventually, the story of my sadness, as I described it before, came out. That essay won me an honorable mention and ignited my passion for writing.
My depression is something I struggle with everyday but, so far, it has also shaped me. I may not like all of myself but I do know that feeling down all the time has made me more aware of how others feel. I often look around at the people surrounding me and wonder if, they too, are battling a mental illness and barely holding it together.
And, like many past and present Healthy Minds Canada bloggers, my mental illness has made stronger, even if it’s just a bit. Strong enough to share our stories here, without shame, in hope that it may inspire others to do the same.
About Fatou Balde
Fatou Balde is a floater in life, currently dipping her toes in communications and psychology to see what she might pursue as a career. She’s been depressed since 12, and desperately trying to get better since 16.