When you live with a mental illness you are faced with tough decisions daily. When your body is aching and you can’t face the world do you take a day to look after yourself in the hope that some recovery time will improve things or do you power on, fearing that isolating yourself will only worsen your symptoms? It’s tricky. Daily decisions: do I take my medication? Do I bother to eat today? Do I spend my energy on a shower? Longer term decisions: can I cope with a job right now? Should I take some time off school? Should I tell people about my situation?
I have had many, many sources of input for these decisions. Doctors, family, therapists, friends, the internet, myself and of course the illness itself all have their ideas on what I should do and more often than not the advice is conflicting and confusing. Even the simplest decisions are multifacteted and confusing. Every night when I take my medication, I do so because my doctor tells me to and most people in my life encourage me to follow my doctors advice but that doesn’t mean I have read every fear mongering article on the topic of antidepressants. But do you know who really hates the idea of me taking antidepressants? Depression. My illness hates and fears my medication more than any Daily Mail article could and depression tells me not to take it. My illness tells me that the very medication I take to fight it is making me stupid, is synthetic happiness, is a sign of weakness and that makes total sense. The depression is a selfish illness, it pushes for its own continuation more than anything else, depression will fight for its self-preservation at any cost.
Every time I take my medication, it’s a little dose of poision to that voice that tells me I am worthless. Each day I nourish myself with good food and exercise I am training for this battle against my illness. Whenever I speak out about my experiences and seek help I am exposing my depression and weakening it. The things that depression hates the most are what I dedicate my time to and with those things that depression wants I do the opposite.
Some days a day off is exactly what you need and other times it only serves as time for the illness to multiply which is why I have to listen very carefully to that voice. When it says “You have to go! Don’t be lazy, this is pathetic!” I know its trying to push me till I snap and I take a self-care day. I show it that I am looking after myself by taking a break and that watching a Disney movie can actually be a productive use of time. Other days I hear it say “Stay home, I know you want to, they don’t want you there anyway,” I know its trying to hide me away, isolating me, locking me up like a prisoner. On those days, I get up and face the world and show my depression that I’m a badass who keeps fighting and gets stuff done. It’s not easy but whatever depression wants, I do my best to do the opposite.
I cannot help but see this as a battle. It’s me versus my illness in a war that’s been waging in my head since day one. But guess what, depression? I’m not weak and I don’t give up easily and I will keep fighting you as long as you are a part of my life. Depression has been trying to kill me for as long as I can remember but two can play at that game. The best part is I know its weaknesses, I know how depression is allergic to sunlight and friendship , I have seen how depression shrivels when faced with open conversations and unashamed advocacy. This isn’t a pleasant fight, trust me I know that, but its one I’ve got to fight.
Keep calm pals, and do the opposite of what your mental illness wants you to,
Love Helga xxx