Written Jun 8, 2018
June 2017. Houston Pride Parade. I’ll never forget that night. I had gone out to enjoy the festivities with a group of my closest friends and had a blast. Dancing, screaming at the awesome parade cars, drinking (a little more than my usual although I didn’t notice it at first), and spending time with my girls. It was all great.
By the time 1 AM rolled around, I found myself sprawled on the bathroom floor weeping incessantly and being cradled by my friend Mearaph like a baby. Was I a little too inebriated? Sure. Was there so much more than what at a surface level looked like a bad night of drinking? Absolutely. Had I been purposely drinking to drown out the demons in my mind? No doubt.
I had never totally acknowledged the lingering feeling I had of hitting rock bottom until that night. The weight of everything that held me down finally threw me off balance strongly enough to get me to stumble. My roller coaster relationship with my mom, my own insecurities about myself and the progression of my career, my spiraling relationship; all of it lodged itself in my throat as the biggest knot that after a few drinks of whiskey and months of self denial was completely unraveled.
That night I quietly accepted what I had been trying so hard to block out and what would become my invisible carry-on luggage for the next 8 months: I was extremely depressed.
On the outside, everything seemed so picture perfect. I had a good job, a boyfriend, amazing girlfriends. I was always the happy one, care-free, unapologetically myself and proud of it. A deeper look on the inside showed an entirely different person. I was afraid of everything, I was self-conscious and self-critical of myself in ways you couldn’t imagine, I felt lonely and misunderstood, I was consistently angry.
Getting up every day? Forget it. For months it was a mashup between waking up and still feeling exhausted (after 10+ hours of sleep), crying like, as soon as I woke up, or just laying there for another 30 minutes not moving and hating my life. Social events? I was probably mad I had to go or crying about feeling ugly right before showing up with a dazzling smile. Arguments with friends/family? Forget it. I was a combination of Cardi B/Eminem when they’re angry on steroids.
It took everything in my power to survive, and a lot of internal conflict to keep me from doing anything drastic. I also realized that cycle had become almost normal in my life.
I can trace back to middle school the up and down trends of my emotions and the battles with becoming overwhelmed with life as it is, and losing control of my mental stability. As the year rolled forward, my behavior worsened. I lost friends, my relationship ended, and I lost myself.
Although on the outside I was thriving and seeming to live a happy and exciting life, by the time the holidays rolled around I felt useless.
So what did I do? We always hear about the really big things folks tackle to manage their mental illness, but for my personal experience, it was the following tiny, daily changes that made the biggest impact.
1) I reached out!
This one is huge, but if you’re dealing with depression TELL YOUR CIRCLE (s/o to my best friends). If you’re scared, then find your one person and let them help you. If you don’t think you have that someone, call one of the many free resources out there! Betterhelp.com, the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1 800 273 8255), call your insurance provider and see what therapists are in your area. Then make sure you GO. You don’t have to go through this alone. Having direction and clarity with what to do with your feelings is the foundation for healing.
2) I forgave myself.
It sounds weirdly simple but until I was able to do this, genuinely, I kept failing at trying to get out of my hole. Remember all that self-hate and self-doubt? Everyone goes through even small amounts of that. It’s a normal part of being human. The waking up late and constant crying? It’s okay! Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you loved who you knew was living through a difficult time. Forget about beating yourself up for every mistake and every negative thought. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Accept yourself with all of your flaws.
3) I was honest about my feelings.
It is SO easy to pretend to others and even yourself that you’re fine. Don’t do that. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re mad, be mad. If you’re happy, be happy! Don’t lie to yourself and don’t suppress your feelings. It only makes healing harder and creates additional unnecessary tension.
4) I did what I loved.
Again, sounds simple enough but I seemed to forget this during my dark days. I always loved dance, and I always loved going to church. Somehow I lost that in the span of that year. I had so little to really look forward to and it affected me greatly. Once I was able to finally bring those back into my life routinely, it helped me stay motivated to keep going. I wanted to feel well enough to make it to Wednesday service. I wanted to have my energy for my dance lessons on the weekends. I wanted to show up to each of those and actually enjoy them.
Taking every single one of these fundamental steps created a change in me that I wouldn’t have imagined was ever possible. Through MightyHeidi, I will continue to share my perspective and the steps that helped me continue on a path of emotional growth. Let’s help each other be stronger one conversation at a time.
– Be Mighty
Update – If any of you would like to begin counseling with an amazing therapist in the Galleria area I highly recommend: https://www.kbtcounseling.com/