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My dad sat us three kids down and said two words that changed my life forever: “We’re moving.” After that moment, life passed in a lazy haze.
I was only there physically; emotionally, I was distant and listless.
The moving truck was loaded with eight years of memories, childhood, and belongings. We went in the morning, and I didn’t even give a backward glance at my old house. I still think that it was one of the hottest days I’ve ever experienced; however, despite the overwhelming heat, I was chilled to the bone. Maybe it was the over-working air conditioning, but there was this gnawing sense in me, a feeling that was foreign. I realize now this was the beginning of my depression sinking in.
The next two months were pretty friendless for me and my sisters. After all, school hadn’t begun and so with the exception of the welcoming church people, I didn’t really make many friends.
When September hit, I was ready for school…
On the first day, I walked into my new class and was greeted with awkward smiles from one or two students. To be honest, I was quite gawky and uncomfortable in my skin at that time, and it was as if people could see it.
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The next two years of school were probably the worst two years I have experienced so far.
I was ruthlessly bullied in grades 6 and 7, which was the major contributor to the downwards spiral of my depression. I was labelled a “fag,” “useless,” and “a waste of space.” People threatened to beat me up, talked behind my back and turned my few friends’ backs on me.
I remember just wanting everything to end; after all, it was a miserable existence I was living and I wanted out. Depression backs you into a corner and forces you to believe that there is only one way out: death. It was a dark two years that I pray that I never have to relive again.
I never showed my parents, friends, or siblings that I was depressed. I artfully mastered putting on a different face for myself: one that was happy, whole and ambitious. I managed to fool them for years. I did this because I wanted to show myself and everyone else that I could grunt through it myself and that I was sufficient on my own.
I realize that I was selfish and confused. It was a sad time. However, life went on, I went to a different high school, and things drastically improved.
I got good grades, had friends that actually treated me right, and the cloud that was engulfing me seemed to lessen to the point where I could breathe easily again. Yet, when I got home, I was still depressed.
I think the reason I stayed depressed was that I was comfortable with my depression.
I am certainly not immune to change, and in fact reject it. However, I lived with my depression, and it began to take over my life.
I was in the car with my sister and I finally opened up to her about my depression and she said five words that changed my whole outlook on life: “Don’t let this define you.” Although it seems so obvious, it was as if I needed someone to say it for me to finally understand.
If I let my depression define me like I did, I let it defeat me.
I was essentially a puppet, my depression the puppeteer. It dictated what I said, how I acted, and what I did. It controlled me to a point where I ended up becoming a lifeless doll.
Once I vowed to not let it define me, the strings that bound me to the puppeteer broke and I was free at last.
I know now that depression doesn’t have to be a label that I wear and I would say that I am recovered. However, recovery is never perfect. I have my down days; I even have down weeks. But I don’t let those days and weeks defeat me. Instead, I use my outlets (running, writing, and music) to help me get over those bouts because I am equipped with the knowledge, willpower, and tenacity to never return to the dark cloud that I lived in for four years.
It is refreshing to know I can fully breathe and take in all that life has to offer. It certainly isn’t easy, but I can promise you it is worth it for you, your family, and those that love you.
Don’t let depression define you, but instead conquer the apathy that depression causes and you will begin to love yourself, you will experience freedom.
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Originally published January 21, 2014 on our old Tumblr Blog
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