It’s been a few weeks since I posted my last blog entry. I started writing a few different ones to follow up my self harm confession, but to be honest, how do you follow up something like that? Nothing that I wrote seemed as meaningful or as important as that post. Every word I typed on my computer screen seemed useless and a waste of my time. Surely I have more to offer the world than a short post on the internet talking about a few instances of hurting myself, right? I’m not interested in keeping up with the Jones’ when it comes to my blog. I try to be more about quality than quantity so I will no longer apologize for my lack of updates or how long it takes me between each post.
Beliefs have always exhausted me. I tried believing in God for awhile but ended up realizing that I just will never be able to accept that concept. I’ve believed in karma and ‘everything happens for a reason’ but honestly, I think most things are just coincidence and you take from your experiences what you will.
I believe in things like equal rights. I believe in women building each other up rather than tearing each other down. I believe in walking around without a bra on and not caring if people can see that you do in fact have nipples. I believe in displaying passion in everything you do and say if it’s something you are indeed passionate about without fear of being ridiculed for being overzealous or dramatic. I believe in sticking up for others who are unable to speak up for themselves.
I believe that I have a responsibility to myself and to everyone who will listen to educate and inform about mental health.
It has taken me a long time to find my purpose. I tried to fight it for a long time. Why should I let my mental health issues define me? Why should I let it control my life?
Well, after years and years of dealing with it, I’ve decided:
What’s wrong with that?
Why not take what I’ve been through and use it to help not only others, but myself?
I want to dedicate my writing and my future to helping other people in regards to mental health issues. Sure, mental health isn’t the only thing I have going on for me. I have plenty of other interests and opportunities. But I believe we have one life to live and I refuse to let my pain and suffering be taken for granted when I can use it to help someone else.
With that being said, whenever I see an opportunity to talk about mental health I jump on it.
Carpe diem and whatnot.
Today I was trolling the web and a Buzzfeed article titled This Is What Depression Really Looks Like appeared on my Facebook. The title alone was enough to catch my attention but what I read and saw when I clicked the link made me realize exactly how important the internet is when it comes to mental health. With just one click you can change someone’s outlook on a situation and I’m proud to be a part of the movement to end mental health stigmas.
The article discusses a campaign ran by Time to Change, an English organization dedicated to ending mental health stigmas. The campaign they have launched is called Get the Picture and it’s geared towards the media and the images they use to portray depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
We’ve all seen the image of the girl holding her head in her hands or the man sitting alone in the dark contemplating why he still exists.
I typed in “depressed” into Google Images and these were amongst the first images that popped up. Don’t believe me?
Go search it for yourself.
While these images are not entirely inaccurate, they portray the internal conflict of depression. That’s what depression feels like. It’s not always what it looks like.
The “Get the Picture” campaign has encouraged people to openly share and discuss what depression REALLY looks like and I’m here to share my contribution.
What can I say? I’m a woman of my generation. I take pictures of myself whenever I feel happy with my physical appearance and I post them online for other people to see that
“Hey! Marki likes herself today!”
I took this photo because I had just cut my hair.
The girl in this photo looks happy with her hair. She just got it cut and she’s feeling cute and quirky because she’s just made a drastic change to her appearance. How liberating!
Let’s talk about what *really* happened that night.
I was living alone at my sister’s apartment. I was so depressed and lonely at my previous living arrangement that my sister offered her apartment that she was no longer staying at so I could have some space to get my shit together. At first things were great. I was living completely on my own and I was closer to my family. Her apartment was fully furnished and it was cute as fuck. I felt independent and genuinely content. Then my sister eventually had to come and get her belongings because she was moving into a brand new house and obviously needed her furniture. So one day while I was at work she brought a moving truck and I returned to an apartment that was left with my clothes stashed in a corner and a mattress in the middle of the floor.
I cried myself to sleep, drifting in and out of dreams that circulated around the fact that I was indeed not independent and obscurely alone.
I remained at the apartment for a few months, sleeping on the floor and preoccupying myself with makeup and shopping. I never threw anything away. I let trash from shopping bags, drinks, and food I had eaten to accumulate the space that surrounded me. I would rather look at trash than at nothing.
One night I became so overwhelming consumed in my own misery that I felt as if I was drowning. I had been in this emotional state time and time again. I had run from it every chance I got. That’s how I ended up at this apartment in the first place. I ran from my feelings at my last home and my depression found me at the next location. I realized that where I lived or stayed didn’t matter: I was going to feel the same way no matter where I went.
My home wasn’t the problem. The problem was me.
That’s it. I’m the problem. I’m the reason I’m miserable. It’s me it’s me it’s me.
The idea of this consumed me. The hatred I had for myself overpowered me and I had to hurt myself in some shape or form.
I thought about cutting myself but I was trying really hard not to relapse. I knew that if I crossed that tangible red line, there was no turning back and I had come so far. So I searched in an empty apartment for a way to destroy myself.
I rummaged through the fridge and found two different kinds of vodka that my sister had stashed away. I quickly opened both bottles and poured them into one cup, begging them to join forces in hopes that they would somehow destroy whatever it was inside myself that was killing me.
I sat in front of a mirror and drank alone as I stared at my reflection and counted all of the things I hated about myself.
After getting drunk and distraught, I searched for a pair of scissors. I found a pair of tiny little nail scissors, you know the ones you trim your fingernails with? I grabbed a pair of those and hacked away at about 7 inches of my long dark hair. I cut it until my hands shook so bad I couldn’t hold them anymore. I stared at the pile of black strands around me and fell to the floor, the scissors laying beside me. It took everything in me not to grab those scissors and ram them into my thighs.
I reached for my shoes instead. I put them on, grabbed my phone and headed out the door in the middle of the night. It was raining but each cold drop of wetness that hit my skin was just a reminder that I was still living and breathing.
My other sister lived about two miles away from the apartment. I set off into the night in hopes that she was still awake.
Streetlights guided me towards the only help I could bring myself to ask for. Cars passed by, some honking their horns in hopes that they’d capture the attention of a lonely girl walking in the middle of the night but the only thing I could hear in my head were my own thoughts telling me that getting to my sister’s was my only chance of surviving the night.
I couldn’t be alone. I wouldn’t make it alone.
I arrived at my sister’s front porch and saw that the light was still on. I began to sob silently as I stared at my personal salvation. On the other side of the door was safety from myself.
I knocked desperately and heard the familiar bustle of pushing giant dogs out of the way in order to get to the door.
Adam, my sister’s fiance, opened the door and immediately looked confused to see me standing there. He opened the glass door and pieced together that something wasn’t right when I bursted into tears and collapsed into his arms. Oh, how freeing it felt to finally forget what it feels like to be alone. He dragged me into their home and my sister took over from there. They sat with me and asked no questions. She could see my hair was maimed and proceeded to grab scissors and help straighten it all out. I spent the remainder of the night crying in my sister’s lap until I drifted off into numbness.
I posted those pictures I believe the next day. I couldn’t hide the fact that I cut my hair but I could hide the fact that I was dying inside. No one needed to know because there was nothing anyone could do. How do I tell people that I chopped my hair off because it was the only alternative to make myself feel better? That my only other option it seemed like was to jam scissors into my legs?
These two photos were taken about 20 days before I went into the hospital for depression and self harm.
Depression has friends. Depression can smile.
That’s what depression looks like, my friends. You don’t see the tears and the screams and the blood. You see what I want you to see. It’s not black and white. It’s not something that can always be easily recognized. It’s in prom photos. Selfies. Family photos. Hanging out with friends.
It floods your newsfeed on Facebook and haunts your Instagram. Don’t let the media fool you with images of despair and self loathing. Depression comes in all shapes and forms and it’s up to us to make people like me feel okay with sharing their stories so maybe one day, we’ll be able to identify mental health issues without needing a big sign that says
“YUP THIS IS IT. THIS GIRL IS SAD AS HELL.”
The media will misconstrue your idea of what depression is but you can’t let it. Because the hot girl in that photo you just liked on Instagram might have tried to kill herself the night before. You never know unless you care enough to ask because society has taught us to hide what we feel rather than to speak up.
I encourage all of you to visit Time to Change‘s website to receive more information on this wonderful campaign.
(side note: this organization is based in the UK but just because we live in a different country doesn’t mean we aren’t experiencing the same things)
Thanks again for sticking with me. I’ll see you around.