I can’t believe it has been over three months since I last updated this blog. So many things have happened. I had an unforgettable trip to Hawaii (can’t wait to go back; dreaming of moving there). A month later, I returned to the US and had incredible adventures in LA and California. I went to Singapore for a couple of days. I got a lot of new tattoos. (Yes, a lot!) I’ve reconnected with so many wonderful people. I’ve made some new friends. My band has gotten back together. (We have a gig at Route on the 23rd, see you there?) My cousin Fifi got married. (I was one of her wedding hosts and I had so much fun). I wrote personal pieces about mental health for the paper. And yes, I’m still learning to live with depression.
Three months ago, I was in a really good place, well on the road to recovery. I believed my first depressive episode was behind me and I thought that if depression hit again, I would be equipped for it.
Then, two things happened.
First, in May, I skipped my medicine for one day—one day!—and went through withdrawal. It was hell. (Lengthy post about that soon, I promise.)
And then, weeks later, in June, my second depressive episode hit. I was wrong. I wasn’t ready for it. In fact, I had no idea it was even happening until it brought me to my knees. Depression doesn’t always look or feel the same, even to the same person.
My first episode made me numb. My second one made me feel too much. I couldn’t stop sleeping (which derailed my plans of going back on Rivotril but more about that later). I felt exhausted all the time. I was irritable. I was miserable. I swam in negative thoughts. I would hole up in my room for as long as possible. I had crying spells. Still, I managed to work. I fulfilled my social obligations. During those few weeks, no one knew what was going on except me, not even Dr. D.
It took me weeks to send an SOS to Tita Marie in Seattle who tried to help me figure out what was going on. She told me to cut back on sugar and alcohol and she agreed that I should schedule an earlier appointment with Dr. D.
But before I could do that, I woke up one morning just feeling better. Refreshed. Like the storm had passed and the fog had lifted. I felt like myself again. Normal. I was excited to work. I had a lot of energy (which meant more time in the gym, yay!). I was eager to see people. I didn’t feel like hiding in my room anymore.
This was just last week.
Tonight, I watched Finding Dory with my mom and I was stunned by how much I could relate to Dory. Her frustration with her mental disability. Her ability to accomplish tasks despite her issues. Her stubborn determination.
Seeing her trying to navigate through the deep sea reminded me so much of swimming through the darkness of mental illness. The confusion, the setbacks, that feeling of being lost were all totally familiar. It can be a lonely struggle… but only if you make it one.
And maybe that is the biggest lesson that I needed to learn tonight. That while my murky head can make me feel like I am fighting this on my own, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dory has Nemo and Marlon and Hank and Destiny and so many others… and I have so many people rooting for me that listing them all would be impossible. And I am grateful. I just need to be able to remind myself of that during the bad days.
And you should do the same. After being so vocal about my battle against depression and anxiety, I’ve heard from so many people going through the same thing. I always tell them one thing: it doesn’t matter what your issues are, you are not alone. We are not alone.
Let’s keep fighting, and, like that mighty blue fish, let’s keep swimming.