“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.” ― Dorothy M. Neddermeyer
I am an organically happy, upbeat, positive person; a fervent child at heart. I also have depression and anxiety. That phrase may not have been much to read. I’m sure the passing thought of who doesn’t fluttered by, and that may be true. Studies have shown depression and anxiety are on the rise for XX reason or another. But that phrase is the culmination of a 14+ year war with myself. It has taken until the age of 27 to not only acknowledge I have depression but to accept it.
The root of my depression is, like most, chemical. Upon reflection, it is apparent I have had some form of depression or anxiety since I was a young girl. It stems from a condition I’ve had since I was 13 called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In short, this metabolic disorder wreaks havoc on your hormones, body structure, and appearance. As a young competitive swimmer, in the pool sometimes 7 days a week, the intense physical exercise kept the hormone play, and dire symptoms at bay.
I always knew something was off internally, but I chalked it up to “being a girl”. After high school, I went to a college where a pool did not even exist, so goodbye original coping mechanism and hello awful symptoms of PCOS. My head was in a million different directions, I slept all the time, I rarely found joy in ANYTHING. My grades suffered, I had massive weight gain, mood swings, more frequent migraines, panic attacks etc. I lacked healthy coping strategies and tried to drink my way through my “despair”. Despite this, I externally smiled.
After climbing partially out of the rabbit hole, through yoga, running, and talk therapy, something was still internally kinked.
Aware of the stigma, I wanted nothing to do with medication. In the same breath, as an endocrine nurse, I am aware a Type I diabetic would not refuse to inject themselves with insulin because they believed they could power through the pending hyperglycemia. It physiologically is not possible. So, what made me believe that I could power through these symptoms that were so gripping? Well, I thought the answer was simple. My depression was different. I could control it; I could even think my way through it. I was not weak, this was simply a challenge. I’ve been doing it for years!
What a silly ego I have.
By lifting the following veils, I have achieved peace with my depression.
1. Equating acknowledgment and acceptance
Ah, the first big one. I was able to recognize early that I had some sort of depressive issues, yet I was able to rationalize it away.
Yes, I am depressed but I can figure it out. Yeah, I am really really painfully anxious today but it will go away. It’s fine.
It was always “fine.” I acknowledge, understood and knew but refused to accept this bold fact.
After losing several relationships including a solid, respectful one with myself, I needed a renovation. Through, intention, meditation and hard inquiry I have finally accepted this is a part of me.
2. I can handle it on my own
For better or worse, I tried multiple outlets of “handling” this condition on my own and failed – repeatedly.
I have accepted there are some things that cannot simply be muscled through. Knowing when to ask for help and DOING it, is an indication of strength.
3. Depression is a flaw and medication is a crutch
This one was the hardest to swallow, and what it came down to was overcoming my own ego. I then sought counsel from those I trusted and love, and who I hoped loved me enough to continue loving me after bringing this condition to light. To my surprise, relief and support were what I received. The tape I kept playing in my head gauging other’s reaction was absolute bogus.
Lifting the veils, and taking action steps did not make my depression or anxiety go away completely. I do not wish to live an anxiety-free life or a life without some emotional roller coasters – that is what makes us unique and human. What I can do, is feel through the moments and manage with positive coping strategies, without spiraling out. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from lifting the veils is acceptance can lead to freedom. Our greatest courage comes when we face ourselves, and accept all of the good, the bad, and the in-between.