Life

Depression: It’s Not My Fault

Let me preface this by saying this was not the intended post for the day. I was going to post about how to make a pretty headboard…but this felt more important. Also, I didn’t edit this. I wrote it last night when I was feeling low, and I took a chance. In fact I scheduled this to post before I usually wake up in the mornings so I couldn’t change my mind. Please forgive any run-on sentences or misspelled words… this is from my heart <3 IMG_0108 I’m the bubbly one, the smiley one, the girl who’s always cracking jokes, but this isn’t me all the time. Sometimes I feel like I have no control of my body, and I don’t even know how to deal with myself. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for other people in my life…but they tell me not to think like that; “It’ll make it worse”, they say. I have depression. I’m not afraid to admit it. For a while I thought it was something to be ashamed of,  and actually sometimes I still do. But it’s no more my fault that I have depression than it is someone’s fault that they have a disease. This is hard to get a grasp on. I feel guilty a lot. I spend my days telling myself that I’m lazy and that if I just tried harder this would go away. If I could just eat healthier, or keep the house cleaner, or exercise more, surely I wouldn’t be so depressed, right? Nope, not at all. I tried that for waaaay too long. I tried fighting it on my own for way too long. I spent multiple days in a row in bed not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to go anywhere, and finding it difficult to even take a shower (which made it worse). All the while I was thinking, “You are wasting your life, just get UP”. But I couldn’t. Wanna know why? It wasn’t my fault. It’s still not my fault. Let me put this in writing for myself as well as for anyone else out there who has depression or loves someone who is depressed: Depression in NOT a character flaw. It’s a medical condition.

It’s so hard to understand though, even when you’re the one going through it.  I get so down on myself because I feel like I’m not doing my best, living life to the fullest, whatever you want to call it. Most days I feel like a failure…and it’s really really hard to get out of that mindset.  When looking back on my life, there are several times that stand out because they really proved to me that it wasn’t my fault, but it’s still hard to understand.  Depression is the most obvious to me when everything in my life is perfect, and I still feel terrible.

When I was 19, everything was great. I had a new boyfriend who was incredible, I was going to my local community college and taking art classes, I was living with my amazing and supportive family, and I had a group of friends that I loved. But my hair was falling out… a lot. Like, I avoided washing my hair at all costs because it made me cry to watch my beautiful hair clog the drain. I didn’t tell anyone because I thought it was my fault, and that I just had a bad attitude and I wasn’t trying hard enough. But by bottling up my feelings and depression so much, my body made a desperate cry for help. I was over at my boyfriends late one night and I just broke down. “I’m so sad and I don’t know why, and my hair is FALLING OUT.” I could hardly even get those words out I was crying so hard, as I still often do. I was hyperventilating and catching my breath was getting harder and harder. This is when Kirby drove me up to my parent’s house and got them at 1:00 in the morning; we were all scared. I felt relieved, scared, and embarrassed all at the same time. I just KNEW I was overreacting and being dramatic. I must be, right? I got help. My family and Kirby are so supportive and got me to doctors and psychiatrists and psychologists and anyone they could think of that could help me…. But it still wasn’t fixed.

Two years later Kirby and I went to Europe, and again, it was a perfect time in my life. We had five weeks off together to travel; we had nothing but time, love, and new things to discover. Our travel plans were flawless, the weather was perfect, and our trip was everything we dreamt it would be…except I was sitting in our room in Cinque Terre (a heavenly small town on the west coast of Italy) sobbing for unknown reasons. Feeling guilty, of course, that I wasn’t enjoying the perfection that was my life. “It must be my fault,” I thought. “Clearly I don’t know how to just let it all go and enjoy my life”. Again, I was wrong. It wasn’t my fault.

Skip ahead to our Honeymoon in Costa Rica, age 25, just 7 months ago. Our wedding was perfect and it lived up to every small detail I had wanted since I was a little girl. Not only was our wedding a dream, I married the most perfect, dreamy (yes, he is seriously dreamy) and wonderful man I have ever met. We had a view to die for, tropical drinks were flowing, the weather was perfect, and all of my bikinis were fitting just to my liking. What did I do for some of the time on our honeymoon? I cried. Sobbed, in our beautiful, perfect room with a view. “You ungrateful bitch,” I thought. “You can’t even enjoy your life NOW? Kirby deserves so much better. What is wrong with you. Go DO something. Enjoy yourself. Have FUN.” But in that moment, I couldn’t. Wanna know why? It. Wasn’t. My. Fault. It was my depression. My ugly, stubborn, nasty depression.

The thing about depression is you can’t fix it on your own. You need help. I’m doing another post about what has helped me, but if I included everything this would go on forever…there is a lot to say because this has been a long journey. Oh, but the other thing…? You can’t fix me either. It took my wonderful, caring, sweet, patient husband a long time to understand this. It’s not in my control, and it’s not in your control. You can’t will your partner into not having high blood pressure, and it’s the same with my depression. This sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? Yeah, it feels that way, too. I’ve had a bad past few days, but I’ve been trying to just take care of myself, which I wouldn’t have done several years, or even months ago. It’s a long journey of learning what works for you. Instead of being curled up in my bed crying right now, I’m drinking tea and writing about my feelings for the whole world to read…for me, that’s major progress.

It is so so hard to write about the times when my picture perfect life just…wasn’t. These days with social media, we feel a pressure to make everything look like a Kodak moment. I often joke that we’re quick to put up pictures of us laughing with our friends and dressed up for the night, but not so much during the moments we’re crying on the couch in our pj’s and eating ice cream. You don’t want people to know about those times, because it makes you look lame, weak, what have you. But to me, that makes us real. One of our goals on this blog is to keep it real. To include the good with the bad. I’m taking a risk by putting myself out there, because I know I’m not the only one. There are ways to feel better. I promise. But more than anything, know this: It’s not your fault.

And this dream

photo (1)

So I brought out the oldest journal of mine I could find the other night, to find some material for a post. I was inspired by Girl’s Gone Child and her posts on Instagram of her journals when she was in high school. They are hilarious, please check them out.

Anyway, what I found was amazing and unexpected.

I had just had a conversation with Anthony the other day about how I wrote a song when I was little (he’s a composer, so I was trying to relate). It was in my I Want to Be Jewel phase, and I had guitar chords to go along with it and everything. It was about resisting the temptation of drugs. Anyway.

I opened this journal and laughed at some funny lines (“Writing is so much easier than typing. I’ve been doing my e-mail a lot”) but then came across maybe the best thing in the entire world. Another song that I wrote.  I can’t even… just read.

photo 1

 

I naturally texted Anthony that picture immediately.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

 

I seriously can remember the tune of this song like it was in the top 40 in 2001. I wish I could sing it to you guys. But you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Look out for more journal posts from Young Stephanie. She had a lot of things to say.

25, Broke and Fabulous

photo (13)

Sometimes I feel like I am in post-college limbo. Or that college was an amazingly exciting and sexy affair I just can’t get over.

I feel like something is just holding me back with one thread as I’m running as fast as I can but stay in place. I feel emotionally mature enough to have a Real Life. And if I can’t have a Real Life, then can I at least just be back in college? No? Sigh.

I am a cliche it seems. Unemployed, 20something, and moving back in with family. I know I’m not this super unique person with rare problems- so many people my age are in this exact situation. That makes me feel a lot better. At least I’m part of some kind of historical event- that means something, right?

I just moved out of my adorable perfect little studio in Santa Barbara and in with my sister, which is definitely not the equivalent of moving in with my parents- but it still means that I don’t have a place of my own. Which just sucks, I’m sorry.

I am so so so lucky to have not only my sister, but my boyfriend and his amazing roommates who let me stay with them and pretend that I’m still in college (complete with a kegerator and parties where no one really cares where beer spills).

But it still sucks to not have my own place anymore. Emily reminded me of this. I always try and look at my life and remember how grateful I should be- which I am. But the other day Emily reminded me that I’m not crazy to be cranky about not having a place to call my own.

There’s that part- no space that I can decorate all girly-like and walk around in a horrendous state where no one will see me.

But there’s also the part where I don’t have a job. Which is just confusing. You forget what day it is, what time it is… you’re ready to party on a Tuesday night and everyone else thinks you’re crazy.

Then there’s the constant guilt- did I do enough today? Did I apply to enough jobs? Along with the awkward moments: “So, what have you been up to lately Steph?” “…..I did yoga last week I think. And I applied to 12 jobs. And I walked to the gas station once to get Anthony candy just for an excuse to go somewhere outside….”

The worst in my opinion, however, is the Identity Thing. At 25, I feel like I should have some kind of career path going, at least. Ideally I would have a badass title and a great salary. But I would settle for just a job that makes sense in the context of some type of career and that allows me to, I don’t know, afford a car.

I hate that in our culture our occupation defines who we are in a lot of ways. The first question you ask people when you meet them is usually “What do you do?”. This makes sense considering we spend most of our time at our workplace. But when you don’t have a job, or the job you have doesn’t mean much to you, it sucks to live in a world where people attach so much meaning to it.

I’m getting better at disregarding this stuff and remembering that I’m ONLY 25 and can switch jobs, careers, styles, religions, hair colors- whatever- as much as I want. Who I am has nothing to do with “what I do” most of the time. So I’m working on valuing my relationships and passions more and taking time to cultivate those to feel good about myself.

I also feel proud that I have been financially independent since I graduated college. Of course I have student debt and I live with my sister rent-free and eat her food off and on…. but there is something so freeing about being the only one who really cares how much is in your checking account. No one else has to know. I can spend my last 10 dollars on a six pack and it would only be my business. I don’t know, it just feels good.

There is so much that I want to do now that I have a partner that I’m ready to start a life with. It makes it hard when that partner is just as broke as I am, but it’s also nice to know I’m not alone and we’re figuring it all out together.

IMG_2625[1]

Hopefully I’ll look back on this time in a kind of romantic way. I always hear my parents tell stories about how they were so broke they didn’t know how they were gonna pay rent, how hard searching for jobs without the internet was, etc. At least I know I can survive on ramen and microwave quesadillas with no job and still be insanely happy.

My badass title currently: 25, Broke and Fabulous. Hmm- I should update that on LinkedIn.

Links I Love

Links I love

From left to right:

1. The first female skateboarder, Patti McGee

2. Why olive oil is a great hostess gift, on one of my favorite blogs

3. Pink lightbulbs are supposed to give a room a pretty glow; I’ll be buying some soon to try it out

4. How lovely…untranslatable words from other cultures

5. Well, this calendar is adorable…a good excuse to eat ice cream! Also, I am in complete support of Bathtub Party Day

6. A happy dance. Maybe this is how I should start my days?

1 16 17 18

%d bloggers like this: