It is April 2015, I’m standing in the waiting room of my local hospital. I lean over in agony, using the back of my hands to wipe away my tears, furrowing my brows in confusion and mumbling in something between pain and lassitude. One thing I’m certain of however, is that I’m enshrouded in heartache, lethargy and disillusionment. I’m afraid this is what most of my teenage life has entailed. Finally I get a glimpse of the receptionist signaling me. She seems to be looking at my jaded self with a bit of contempt but I still tell her, “I need to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. ” She asks if it is an emergency, I tell her it is but she still says the next available appointment isn’t until next Monday — even though I take it, I’m not too sure I’ll make it that long. Joke on her, I’ve been considering a back up plan (suicide) since my bout of depression began, and it has only been a matter of timing. I have had morbid fascinations with suicidal ideations and held such tendencies. My mind is going awry but I still manage to get home in one piece.
Monday came. Whew!
A diagnosis. Clinical Depression.
Getting a diagnosis is both a terrifying and a relieving confirmation. It is paradoxical; it can be both a breakthrough and a gateway to another long and difficult path.
Finding out I suffered from clinical depression wasn’t surprising to me. Instead it was CONFUSING. Confusing because of the stigma associated with people living with mental illnesses. I feel like I will never be able to articulate depression with ease; depression makes my stomach churn, I find it bone-chilling. The way it is insidious and compounding really breaks my heart. I mean how do you describe dying on the inside while you are still alive? How do you go about in a society that is hellbent on believing that we are just lazy, attention seekers or weaklings? How do you explain to random people that you have to take meds daily to manage a chemical imbalance in our brains?
The biggest misconception about mental illness survivors is that we are homogeneous in some way. Some believe that the badge “mentally ill” should only be applied to delusional, homicidal, chainsaw-wielding psychopaths. Some believe it should only be applied to angst-ridden teenage girls crying in bathrooms at lunch breaks. Some believe it should be applied to homeless looking adults in the streets.
I assure that these three characterizations are society’s ascription to the meaning of “crazy” and might after all only be applicable to a fraction of the mentally ill community. Because we are diverse, flawed, vibrant and beautiful on so many levels in every way we exist in this world outside of the stereotype that society places upon us. The only misconception here is that we could possibly be lumped into such deductive categories.