About a year ago, my mental health was at the worst it has ever been and I finally sought out help. Soon after, I was officially diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety. I’ve never been so unmotivated or had such a distaste for life before that period of my life. But I didn’t “get” it. I didn’t get it because I couldn’t see “it.” I wanted to break one of my limbs just to make the excruciating pain I was feeling into something tangible, something I could put my finger on. I didn’t get why it was becoming increasingly harder to fall asleep at night despite my exhaustion, but it was impossible to get out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t understand why I had such a longing just to stand in the middle of the traffic… just to see what would happen.
My depression and anxiety are, by far, the hardest things I had to deal with. They make the obstacles I’ve faced because of my cerebral palsy seem like nothing. I was always able to overcome those obstacles and have a strong mindset during the process. However, with my depression and anxiety, only the word, “impossible,” comes the mind, a word that I’ve eliminated from my vocabulary as a young girl.
The main difference between my cerebral palsy and mental illness is that one is visible while the other is not. My strong mentality have always gotten me through my daily life with CP, but my depression and anxiety affect my mentality, which was only thing I could depend on. Now since my mentality is uncontrollably affected, it is a lot harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me, CP is the least of my problems, and that’s saying a lot.
This past year, without a doubt, has been my hardest one yet, due to the series of unfortunate events that unfolded. But unlike the previous year, I was able to keep my head above water and breathe.And I am now at the place where I consider one good thing at a greater value/impact than three bad things. I’ve re-instilled the passion for writing in my soul, and that has been a tremendous part of my healing process. Now, even if I take one step back, I am able to take three steps forward. My voice had been silenced for years… I’ve now amplified my voice and now there’s no way to shut me up.
I thought my depression and anxiety heightened because I was always doing a million and one things at once… in order to leave no time for me to wander and get lost in my thoughts. I’ve been the definition of high-functioning depression and anxiety ever since I can remember. However, this year, I’m doing more than I’ve ever had, but instead of drowning, I’m cruising through life with me as the driver and not the other way around. They key difference is that now I’m actually passionate about the things I’m doing, and appreciative of the little blessings life has to offer.
I truly believe the change of environment has a tremendous effect of this positivity. My internship at DoSomething.org is the, by far, most rewarding internship I have ever had. It has definitely made me understand the importance of loving your job, or anything you do. It certainly makes waking up in the morning (and the commute) worthwhile. I just love the fact that I’m using my writing as a vehicle for social change, and witnessing the impact it has. Everyone at the org is a badass person who gets shit done… like the KPI is through the roof. Like, this is the kind of a thing I want to do as a career, and it’s truly an honor to get a glimpse of it as an intern. Also, being away from the Barnard/Columbia for two days a week has been extremely refreshing.
Although my postgrads plans are still not set in stone, my internship has open my eyes to a possibility, and now I have a plan and I’m following through on it. I do not want to disclose the details of the plan, in efforts to not jinxing it, but don’t worry, you will find out soon enough.
So, here’s to the 1st anniversary of my mental illness diagnosis. It’s been a rocky road, and some days will be good while others will be bad, but I choose to continue. I’ve never been stronger, more vulnerable, or more content than I am now.