It may not be a five letter word, but it’s a dirty word to SO many people. The ‘D’ word that people whisper and try to cover up. The big ol’ DEPRESSION (that was me yelling it really loudly because I give absolutely no fucks).

There’s no secret that there is still a stigma around depression and anxiety, even though it’s becoming increasingly clear that these afflictions affect a lot of people. Lately, I’ve been noticing a good handful of my fellow blog babes ‘coming out’ about their issues with depression and anxiety. Which is awesome.

When something is stigmatized, what it really needs is to be talked about. Openly, confidently, happily. Being depressed or anxious already sucks – why should anyone have to go through the extra difficulty of covering it up? Props to all the strong, successful, badass women who also happen to have anxiety, depression, or other mental/emotional issues for putting their issues out there and creating an open dialogue. There’s no shame in a medical condition – and that’s what these are: medical conditions. It’s NOT a choice, a bad attitude, or any of the other bullshit things I’ve seen people say.

Listen: I have diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ve had symptoms since I was a sophomore in high school and have been on medication steadily since college, which totally changed my life. Boom. Medication works for me ( along with meditation, crystals, visualization, exercise, a healthy diet, and managing stress) and it doesn’t make me ‘fake happy’ or a zombie; it helps me get back to a set point like a goddamn normal person so I be who I really am. It gets me to a point where I can actually make choices and control my mindset instead of being overrun with my batshit crazy brain chemicals.

People are typically very confused when I talk about my depression and anxiety issues, because I am an exceptionally positive (to a fault), happy, optimistic person. I’m happy and I love my life. I also work at it.

I know it’s not my fault that the chemistry of my brain isn’t quite right, so I’m totally cool taking anti-depressants to help me out there. Holistic health and spirituality are a big part of my life too, and I think make a huge impact. I have an auto-immune thyroid disorder that messes with my hormones and contributes to anxiety, so my thyroid meds help balance out that aspect. Even with all of this though, I still get paralyzing anxiety sometimes where my husband has to talk me out of crazy town because my chest feels aggressively tight and my brain won’t slow down. Luckily I’m pretty aware of the fact that it’s just anxiety rearing it’s ugly head and I don’t let it derail my life of awesomeness or take my vibration down.

I’ve figured out through a lot of super fun really awkward conversations about mental health that most people equate having depression with being sad all of the time or being negative, which I just want to say is completely, utterly not true. Sure, if left unmanaged depression can totally swallow you up. It acts differently in everyone and with me, it just doesn’t make me sad. Sometimes it makes me really tired, or fuzzy, or obsessively worry about things. It doesn’t make me doubt myself one bit or doubt my faith in my abilities or the power of the universe. Just like diabetes doesn’t make people think they are bad people.

If you have anxiety or depression or any of the myriad brain chemistry disorders, it doesn’t make you any less incredible. Honestly, it probably makes you more incredible because you have learned to be strong and confident despite obstacles placed in front of you. It has taught you how to be in tune with your body and brain, and how you interact with the world. Don’t ever feel guilty or ashamed – you’re normal, you’re a badass, and you are capable of anything.

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It’s fully possible to be a bright shiny optimist who loves life, finds tremendous success, and enjoys life….even with a wonky brain. It’s just like a little tattoo on your back: you’re aware it’s there, but after a while, it just becomes a part of you. It’s not who you are, but it’s not invisible. It’s just there, you have a funky little dolphin on your back, but you are not the dolphin.

Do you deal with anxiety, depression, or other mental/emotional disorders? Join the conversation below and share your story. Let’s get transparent and support each other.

Love you.

Author: ErinLane

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