“Of all the things a preteen girl worries about; crushes, periods, schoolwork, and zits; sorting through the fear of dark mental and emotional issues while trying to self-diagnose and manage them shouldn’t be one. Puberty is confusing enough, but depression is often overlooked as a mere symptom of an adolescent’s move into developing and growing into the complex emotions of adulthood.
Growing up in home riddled with depression and anxiety, coming from a family prone to these conditions generations back, the oppressive weight and darkness that accompanies these conditions was my “normal”. The whispers of despondency began when I nine and grew louder into screams as I moved into my early teens. I learned to not speak of my thoughts because I was usually shut down by those who didn’t understand or have time to listen; my fears were outweighed by the trials of others and I needed to be strong and supporting. I saw the effects of medication on those around me and didn’t want to become that; to lose myself in a medicated haze. I wanted the voices to be silent but didn’t know how to quiet them except to turn them into white noise and learn tune them out.
I began to research depression when I was 12 hoping to find, at the very least, coping mechanisms outside of the pharmaceuticals, if not a cure. My immaturity and inexperience often drove me to suppression followed by lashing out at those closest to me, or giving in to addictive desires. I craved love but didn’t feel worthy so I built walls to hide the broken parts and protect myself from being hurt more. I built my identity around not showing weakness not realizing I never strengthened those parts of me I needed to support a healthy mind on my own.
My life was saved by life itself. There are several distinct points growing up were it was almost too much to go on when the sheer beauty of life itself shown in to light my way. Moments where a certain glimmer of light through the trees, a phone call from a friend reminding me of my value in the world, and moments where I discovered a power within myself to choose to be happy even in hell remind me that even with the darkness; life is worth living. Sometimes the dark and screaming are masked over and easily ignored, even forgotten; other times it roars. Most of the time, I have been able to find a level of happiness and contentment in the challenge of finding ways of living the life I want creating paradise in chaos, but sometimes that vision is dimmed when the baggage gets too cumbersome, or the road too steep. Is it worth it carrying on? Which is harder; putting in the extra effort to be normal, or letting go and giving into the darkness?
Now a couple of decades later the screaming has been filtered out by that beauty, though it is not silent. I’ve never sought a medical diagnosis short of observations made by various counsellors over the years; I go in every now and then for a mental check and servicing; to tune-up and tighten up the loose ends, validate the direction I’m taking, and receive unbiased constructive-criticism. I’m still afraid of medication so I run, I mange my diet, I keep busy and when the screaming gets louder I keep busier; anything to stay ahead of the storm. I was lucky to take on a career that put me in the role of providing communication training; my role required continuous self-evaluation and understanding of what makes me tick to find ways of managing those aspects in a way that was healthy, and fed my soul. It meant looking deep into myself to embrace and understand the darkness. My ambition is to be the person I needed when I was trying to find my way; someone to guide, help, and sometimes stand back to let me learn my own lessons. Someone who sees the struggle and acknowledges it; who can provide a safe place to let go. Someone who can help another fly.”
– By Miranda.
You can find more of Miranda’s inspirational words by visiting her mental health blog here; Uitwaaien Kairos.
Themanicyears is still looking for people to share their stories! If you have an experience with Mental Health you would like to share on here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, and get your story published on our “Sharing Stories” feature.– M.