Today....is opinion day. If you know me than you know that I have a lot of opinions and I'm always willing to share them with someone. There's something that's been pressing upon my mind as of late, and it's something that I'm going to use as the focus of my post today. You've heard me talk about it before in some form or another, but today, I feel like it needs to be addressed again.
When I was in High School I learned that not everything was okay in my head. I'd often feel hopeless and lost. I didn't have a purpose and didn't really care to find any direction. I found that through writing I was able to harness these self-deprecating feelings and corral them into a single focus. It was at this point that writing became an important part of my life. It helped me cope with all of the things that I had to do throughout the day. It helped me see that I could get up and do homework, hang out with friends, be social, and everything else that a teenager is meant to do. I was able to find an outlet and threw my mental illness plug into it. However, the power to the outlet would sometimes go out and I was left feeling empty and alone. I'd fall into a dark place and never thought I'd be able to leave it. It was when I felt like I had broken past my "breaking point" that the plug would start working again and I'd be able to function as a normal moody teenager.
This has been the case since High School. There are moments when I'll feel like I'm on top of the world. I feel like everything is in it's place and I can perform miraculous feats. Then, out of the blue, the mental illness unplugs itself from the outlet and I'm left feeling like a dried up husk. This feeling of emptiness lasts for a few weeks. It's at this point that I am able to plug back in and move on with my life. I'm convinced that this is something that I'll deal with until I'm perfected.Throughout the last few years I've discovered just how much it affects me and the people around me. I'm learning, what I call, the "personality" of my mental illness, and how I can work with it to help myself when I'm feeling like the world is coming to an end.
I've been faced with one of these bouts of depression for the last few weeks. I woke up about two weeks ago and felt like all of the energy that I had so graciously been given the previous day had all soaked into the pillow I was resting on. I didn't want to get up and I definitely did not want to go to work. But, I was able to pry myself away from my bed and go about my business. As the days progressed the pillow slowly sucked away more of my energy until all of the good thoughts that I had managed to muster up had all been replaced with thoughts of pure darkness. I had a rain cloud hovering over my head, the storm soaking my body with a mixture of resentment towards everyone saying "good morning" or making sure that I smiled and hollowness in my chest. Yesterday, I felt so down that I didn't want to do anything. I was completely drained and slept most of the day. I stayed in bed and only left for work and making dinner for my kids. When I woke this morning, I was sure that I'd feel worse than yesterday but somehow, the pillow, instead of seeping my energy, gave it back to me. I woke up happy and energetic. I was able to greet the day with a better outlook. Today was a good day.
I bring all of this up for one reason. As I was going through this depressive episode, something that's going to happen again in a few weeks, I was the only one that knew what was going on. I didn't inform anyone that the dark clouds of depression had harbored in my mind. I didn't allow anyone past the walls that I had put up in order to protect others from the downpour that I wrestled with inside. There were people who knew I wasn't feeling well, which is where I left it. I didn't feel well, but it wasn't anything physical. I was battling something inside my head that, for the last two weeks, had left me battered and bleeding. There wasn't anyone who knew what I was struggling with, and that's my point. We are so quick to judge someone for how they act and do things that we forget how much they could be struggling. I normally put on a mask to cope with my crippling depression. This masks helps others around me to feel comfortable. They see me as a sarcastic dick who doesn't mean anything that he says. I make them laugh and that's good enough for them.
There are people all around us who are struggling with one thing or another. It could be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. There is someone close to me right now who is struggling with the life-changing effects of cancer. She spoke to me of how she was walking somewhere today thinking to herself, "there is something inside of me that shouldn't be there. I have cancer. There is cancer inside of me". Her cancer isn't visible. You can't see it and don't even know about it unless she tells you. She's struggling though, hurting at times, and knows that this is only the beginning of a fight with pain. But, she still smiles and tries to have a good outlook on life. You would never know that she is suffering because she doesn't let anyone know.
We need to start living in a world where we can all be kind to each other. We might not always agree with the choices that someone is making, but we can still be kind. You might live or work with someone who keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. You might want to strangle them at times, wondering why they can't seem to get things right, but you can still be kind. You don't know what that person is going through and you might never find out. I am definitely guilty at jumping to a quick conclusion about who a person is based on the things that they do/don't do. I'm not saying these things, standing on the sidelines, thinking that I never falsely accuse someone of something. I tend to be in the thick of the ridicule, standing by the side of the accuser, feeling slighted by the accused in some way or another. But, that is one thing that I am working my hardest at changing. Just like no one can see the battle raging inside of me, I can't see the one blazing in them.
It might take all of the energy that we can find, we might have to squeeze it out of our pillows every morning, but we can be kind. We can focus on the good. We can be the person that others want to emulate because we are kind. We can choose to be kind. Someone once said, "In a world where you can be anything, be kind".
It is my hope that I can truly start being kind to everyone. If I have been uncaring and insensitive towards you in any way, please allow me to say sorry. I can be a jerk at times but I am learning to change that about myself.