I know I haven’t been blogging much. Between edits for the next book, other sekret projects, traveling, and my new day job (which I love), I haven’t had much time for blogging or social media. But May is Mental Health Awareness month, so I wanted to write a little bit it.
Back in April I wrote a guest post for Teen Librarian Toolbox called “19 Years of Living” detailing what my life has been like in the 19 years since I attempted suicide at 19. One of the things I talked about in that article was that depression isn’t something that ever goes away, and in the spirit of honesty, I thought I’d talk about what I’ve been going through lately.
One of the things I frequently hear are people with depression being questioned about the validity of their illness. About whether they have the “right” to be depressed because there’s nothing wrong with their lives. From the outside, things seem to be going really well for me. I love my new day job and the people I work with, my books are doing well, I’ve got a lot of new projects in the works, I have great friends, a great boyfriend, I’m financially stable, I have a nice place to live, and I’m not suffering any physical medical issues. To an outsider, it must seem like I have everything I could want. And I do. I’m very lucky, and I honestly can’t think of a single thing I want or need.
And yet I’m not okay.
I smile at work, I tell my mom about all the great things happening in my life, I tell my boyfriend I’m happy, and I tell my best friend just enough about the little nuisances in my life to keep her from digging any deeper.
But I’m not okay.
I’m struggling. I’m struggling with feeling alone, I’m struggling with feeling worthless. I only get out of bed because I have responsibilities. I lose my temper over the dumbest things. I was trying to build a desk a couple of weeks ago, and I took out my frustration on a nearby box with a hammer. When I’m not struggling to keep from crying for no reason in particular, I feel numb. I feel wrung out and full of shit and like a complete waste of skin.
I know what this is. I know I’ll come out of it. I know if it goes on much longer I’ll have to discuss it with my psychiatrist.
But I’m not okay, and I don’t feel like I can tell anyone. I feel like people who are struggling in the tangible ways I am not will look at me like I’m an ungrateful asshole who doesn’t appreciate what he has. I feel like people who have never battled depression will tell me I should just smile more and enjoy my good fortune. I know that if I tell my friends or family, they’ll just try to “fix” me, and I’ll have to “let” them in order to make them feel better.
So I keep it to myself. I smile and make sure only to cry when I’m in my car or alone and I try to let everyone know that I understand and appreciate how lucky I am so that when the shiny happy visage invariably slips they won’t think I’m ungrateful.
And this is my reality. Some days I’m bitter as fuck about it. Some days I really resent people who roll through life never knowing what crushing depression feels like. Other days I tell myself this is just a thing I have to deal with and there’s no use dwelling on it too much. Neither approach makes it easier. It just is.
Even now I wonder as I write this if there are people who might read it and think I’m just another entitled asshole whining about nothing. But this is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I’m being honest about my struggles with depression in the hopes that maybe someone else who feels the way I do might read it and realize they’re not alone. I have everything I could ever want, and I’m still not okay. I’m struggling every day.
I don’t want pity, I don’t want solutions, I don’t want advice. I just want awareness. For me and for every other person who isn’t okay and is struggling where no one can see. So please be aware: just because we’re smiling doesn’t mean everything is okay.