MIAW and How it Affects Me

Friday, October 10, 2014

We're nearing the end of (if you're in Ohio) a cold, rainy, generally gloomy week. I find this a huge coincidence as it is Mental Illness Awareness Week and "generally gloomy" is a fairly common state-of-mind for me. I didn't know MIAW existed, but I'm glad it does. In summary, I've been suffering/fighting/whatever you'd like to call it against mental illness for years. It started with the death of my best friend Kelsey in 2008. That event forced me to mature at the ripe old age of 16. Her death was unexpected as she passed from a 1-in-a-million disease no one knew she had.

From there, I began catastrophizing. Basically in my head I would have "episodes" as my counselor called them. I would be doing something mundane like driving home from school and suddenly my mind would spiral out of control and imagine some catastrophic event, like my whole family dying before my eyes, Cameron dying in a violent car accident, my dog being taken from me and killed. Essentially, they all had to do with my loved ones dying, just like what happened to Kelsey.

This caused me great anxiety on top of the deep depression I'd fallen into since her death. My counselor said the depression was causing the episodes and the anxiety so that was what we needed to tackle first. Needless to say, overcoming mental illness is easier said than done. In order to tackle depression, things need to be positive on a regular basis and stable. Unfortunately for me when I was working to beat this, I was finishing a senior capstone project, trying to graduate, planning a wedding, leaving my parents' home, trying to find a job and buy a house. Not exactly the ideal circumstances.

Depression is a funny thing. It ebbs and flows, has its ups and downs and can sometimes strike unexpectedly. Right around the time of our wedding, things got really bad for me to the point where I was contemplating suicide. For the last several months, things have been on the upside. But last week, things were a little down. It's a process, but it's something I deal with and have confidence I will someday overcome, because I know depression lies.

Why do I pour all of this onto the oh-so-public digital pages of this blog? Because I want people to know they're not alone. Depression can be caused by a great many things. Death, loss, change, or nothing at all. It's important to know how many millions of people struggle with this, mostly silently. Sharing is caring as they say. So here I am sharing what no one in my real life outside of this blog really knows. Maybe this week will be the week that inspires me to share, and maybe not. Either way, that's okay.

This post was feature on NAMI's "You Are Not Alone" Page Oct. 8- share your story here

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