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Finding Hope

It’s difficult to believe things will get better when this struggle has been consistently worsening over the past decade. Ten years is a long time to face the same demons every day, but that’s my reality, & all I can do is keep facing them each day without losing hope that the greatness that lies ahead is worth facing the adversity confronting me today.

Each day is a battle. When I wake up, my first thoughts usually revolve around suicide. How enticing it appears! After about two hours, I finally get out of bed, having talked myself down from being excited about death. Convinced I must face my day, I address my symptoms: What will today’s battle look like? It’s usually evident right away. Today it was deep depression where all I wanted was to give up on life. It’s a change of pace from the paranoid anxiety from the past week & the major depression, suicidal ideations, & hearing voices from the past month. Nevertheless, it’s equally disabling & challenging.

The fact is that depression is exhausting. It depletes me of everything I am. It takes away my drive, interest in things, ability to experience pleasure or excitement or joy. It’s all-consuming, all-captivating—& all-destructive. Depression wrecks everything in its path: every thought, idea, hope, friendship—everything. It makes even simple decisions feel impossible. Just deciding on what to wear took awhile & a few wardrobe changes. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin; how am I to feel comfortable in some old pieces of cloth?

If I try concentrating on something, the depression takes over. It’s like I’m trying to change the movie playing in my mind, but the DVD player won’t open. The TV just keeps playing the darkest scenes of my life & the message of hopelessness over & over & over again until it drives me mad. Depression consumes every inch of my being without my permission. When I fight it, its grip tightens, increasing the sense of helplessness overwhelming my existence.

My phone buzzes with a text message—always a pleasant distraction from my dark mind. “How are you?” I stare blankly. What am I to say? How can I express that my mind is in such a miserable place that I literally want to die right now? That would only frighten them. I respond with, “Fine.” It’s much easier than confronting the brutal truth of my reality when I don’t know what can be done to adjust the chaotic destructive consuming my being.

The darkness overtakes my interior while on the outside I appear perfectly well. It’s miserable, drowning in a glass box while watching everyone else walking around & breathing with ease—without even thinking about it. Don’t they realize how grateful they should be for oxygen in the air?! How self-absorbed are these creatures that the life that sustains them gets no recognition? If I had air to breathe, I would bless it every moment of every day. But most of the time, I’m stuck drowning, & remembering what it’s like to breathe without effort is impossible—it’s such a distant memory, it barely even exists anymore.

So I try to embrace the day instead of being defeated by it before it even begins. I do my best—truly, I do. I put on good music, light some incense, take a hot shower, spend time cuddling & playing with my adorable cat PookieBear, force some form of breakfast down if possible, maybe even clean up around my one-bedroom apartment. But that never shakes the lingering darkness waiting to overtake me the second I let my guard down.

I truly do have to be on my guard all the time. One negative thought could mean the difference of wanting to live or die down the road—it doesn’t take long for a negative concept to trigger disabling symptoms of my mental illnesses. If I am not constantly fighting to live, I slip into a darkness where all I want is to die. Finding forms of peace & relaxation are difficult (which is why I’m so grateful for marijuana—but that’s a whole other story). So I keep fighting for the will to live, hoping one of these days it won’t be such an intense battle.

I medicate, with prescriptions left over from my old doctor (who cut me off services with no reason or warning) & with substances obtained through friends. I take my anxiety medication (Propanolol/ Inderal) & some Adderall. The combination awakens my brain while keep my anxiety at bay.

Time to get out of the house. Sometimes a change of scenery helps, especially when it involves being around other people without any interaction being required, like a coffee shop.

Loaded up with a snack, medications, & work to keep me occupied, I set out. I drive to Palmer Park, a large state park just down the road from me. I climb up the mountainside in my faithful truck Tilden & park at my favourite spot overlooking the entire went side of the beautiful city I live in. Listening to my favourite music, I take deep breaths, reminding myself that pain is destructive & temporary but beauty is powerful & everlasting. I have a choice, in every single moment, to admire the beauty or be consumed by the pain. It’s exhausting to choose beauty but it always pays off & leads to seeing even greater beauty in this big, chaotic world.

I drive to the bottom of the mountain & park beside the swing set. I swing until I can’t feel my nose or fingers (yay for Colorado winters!). I swing until I can feel the worries slipping away & the empowering beauty of existing seeping back into my being. I swing until I believe I can fly, until I believe that I am more powerful than the darkness trying to destroy me. I swing until I KNOW that I am going to conquer the adversity tearing me down presently because I am STRONGER than the evil dominating this world & my mind.

Legs pumping, I soar into a future brighter than my present. Once more, I believe in myself & all the things that make living so beautiful & worthwhile. Teary-eyed, I swing until I know I have the willpower to challenge my depression & the voices taunting me with suicidal ideations. Now I am prepared to face my day.

After the park, I drive to the library, my home away from home. I reserve a study room & set up shop: laptop & half a dozen clipboards with notes for my blog, treatment plan, & book. I ignore my to do list & begin writing—something I rarely ever have the inspiration to do these days because of how repressing the depression is.

A year or two ago, I wouldn’t have fought so hard to sway the stance of my depression. I would’ve sunk into it, sedating myself & remaining in bed all day, refusing to face the world. Yet here I am, embracing my day instead of sinking into the darkness. Here I am finding hope & purpose when I awoke with complete hopelessness & despair. I am so thankful for substances & people that help get me through the day—without them, I wouldn’t have proper tools to fight my mental illnesses. But with them & my beautiful mind, I find a way to sneak away from the darkness somewhat unscathed.

I am so thankful for days when my mental illnesses don’t win the battle. I’m grateful for days I claim victory, & this is one of them.

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