Today I couldn’t get out of bed. Not because of a hangover or lack of sleep, but because the idea of hiding in my warm sheets was far more appealing than going about my day with my happy face on and pretending everything was fine. Today wasn’t my best day.
Mental illness runs in my family. My mother has reminded me of this my whole life. But the fact that it’s genetic doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t smooth my racing thoughts that tell me that I’m not good enough and that I don’t deserve it. It doesn’t calm my ragged breaths when my mind feels like it’s spiraling out of control. It doesn’t make me hop out of bed and run to face the day. My anxiety and depression aren’t things I chose. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am, but I’ve decided that taking my time is okay.
My history with depression started in middle school. I cried in the darkness of my room out of confusion and took paper clips to my skin to try to recreate the invisible cuts on my brain. Once I found running, that kept me busy and seemed to help. However, the story doesn’t end there. Depression and anxiety came back in full force during my senior year of high school and have ebbed and flowed in and out of my life ever since. It’s still hard for me to discuss this as they have negatively impacted many aspects of my life for longer than I care to admit.
It took years before I could get help, before I could convince myself it was okay to speak up for myself and fulfill my own needs. I looked down on the idea of getting help because it made me feel weak. I’d always taken care of myself, so why couldn’t I keep doing it? I felt unsteady and impaired, though I knew that in order to help myself, I needed to be strong. Strength is what I required when I told my parents I needed help, and as I waited, shaking, to go into my first appointment with a therapist. Strength is what helped me go back. And it turns out I had the strength I needed in me the whole time; it was just a matter of finding it.
I know what it’s like to feel weak, but I have also discovered that I am stronger than I ever knew. If you feel weak, remember how many others have been where you are and come through it. You are strong and resilient just by being. Some days will be better than others and that’s okay. You aren’t alone and sometimes you need someone to lean on. This is a fact I’m still learning to accept. Like I said, today wasn’t my best day, but tomorrow might be and I have to be here to be find out.
Kiera Elkow is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.