author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
Sometimes, in Louisville, Kentucky, with caffeine in hand, you will feel that same despair you felt at the beginning of your diagnosis.
As someone with severe depression, I can attest to fleeting moments of clarity when it comes to my illness. These truths are sometimes miniscule, easily discarded, but there are a handful of truths that arise and stay with me through months, even years. One of these truths arose when I was sitting alone in a Kentucky coffee shop, working my way through reviews for my online class; this was no ordinary bout of depression, this was “hit me like a steam engine, square against my chest,” depression.
I sat, vacantly staring into the pouring rain, hands clasped firmly around my now lukewarm tea, and felt bad … like, really bad. I felt so bad that my brain was forced to track my medication intake, how much sleep I have been getting, what I have been eating, but I arrived at the same conclusion I always do: sometimes depression can’t be defeated. Sometimes, in Louisville, Kentucky, with caffeine in hand, you will feel that same despair you felt at the beginning of your diagnosis.
It passed, quicker than usual, and I was back to routine Annie things by the time I picked my girlfriend up from class. However, this would become one of those truths I think about in every silence, every minute of downtime: sometimes, there is nothing you can do. This has nothing to do with helplessness; it has to do with strategy. It is vital to remember that there is no fail-safe, guaranteed route back to mental stability. You will falter, you will fall, and yes, cursed as the word is, we will fail our goals set.
I am 20, almost 21, and days facing the sun can be much harder than not leaving bed all day. Even with the use of modern medicine, counselling, interactions with friends and family, I am not 100 per cent protected. I never will be. This article is not intended to scare anyone, or discourage anyone away from professional help (please seek it; it changed my life), but rather the opposite. It is a plea for those suffering from any degree of mental illness to set up a safety net.
You must reach out to those close to you, set up a close relationship with both your doctor and therapist, and make lists of strategies. Unfortunately, there is simply no guarantee that mental illness can or will be eradicated any time soon, but we play its twisted little game. We can play it intelligently. We can have fallbacks before we ever fall in the first place.
Take this time to make a mental catalogue of your resources: friends, medications, favourite foods, safe places, hospital locations, and so on. I have my doubts that any of us will ever truly overcome the things we suffer with, and while that’s far from okay, it isn’t a cause for despair. It is a cause for strategizing, planning, and rationalizing – help exists for a reason. Seek what you can.