Depression’s Like A Big Fur Coat

“Depression’s like a big fur coat–it’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm.”
 
This is a quote from Icon For Hire’s song “Iodine,” which has become one of my favorite songs over the last couple years. Most people here know my story, although some only know bits and pieces. There’s people I can encounter on a daily basis that don’t know me, or don’t know the struggles I’ve gone through, or don’t know the reality of what goes on inside my head.
 
Back in 2012-2013, I had one of the hardest years of my life. I came to the realization, after many hospitalizations, that I had depression. Some people still refuse to believe that depression is a real thing, but unfortunately it is. It’s not just sadness. It’s not just crying every once in a while. Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling completely numb. Sometimes it’s as simple as being tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get. Sometimes it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning and do things that you have to do because you’re supposed to be a responsible young adult.
 
Writing is something that’s always been important to be, but over the last few years, I’ve used it as a way to channel my feelings. It’s been one of my easiest coping mechanisms and it’s been incredible hearing from readers who tell me that my books have made them realize something about themselves, of that a book of mine has changed their life in some way. When I look back at everything I’ve gone through and then examine where I am now, I see all the obstacles I’ve overcome. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to know that I’m no longer in that place I once was. On the other hand, every phase of life comes with a new set of struggles, and we must learn how to deal with what life throws at us.
 
Although I’ve overcome many things, the one thing I wish I could say I’ve fully overcome I have not. My depression. Some people may be wondering how that’s possible. How I can seem like this happy person all the time, whether it be at work or somewhere else, and still be depressed. Some wonder how it’s possible to have confidence in myself, yet still have depression.
 
I wish there was an easy answer, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, it’s not. I made a post a while back about being an empath, and about how everything around me affects my emotions. I’m a highly sensitive human being, and it’s both a good and a bad thing. The problem is that we live in a world full of negativity. There’s not a lot of light that shines through. Several people have told me that they believe most people are inherently good, and maybe that’s true. Over the last two years, I’ve come to realize that even though deep down they’re good, they do not come across that way, especially to me. I’ve been treated poorly by people when I don’t deserve it. I’ve been abandoned by people who swore they’d never leave. I’ve fallen in love yet again, only to have my heart ripped out of my chest. I’ve been played by people who seemingly have nothing better to do than to mess with my emotions.
 
So why am I telling you all this? Well, as a person who struggles with depression, although a lot of it is internal, external forces have a tendency of making things worse. I always have these two conflicting sides in my head–do I become numb like everyone else and turn into an asshole with no regard for others’ feelings to protect my own, or do I continue to love, to feel, and to be in touch with myself so I don’t fall into the darkness this world creates in people?
 
When I wrote my novel The Long Road Home, it was one of the most personal books I’ve ever written, and it has reached so many people. It’s my favorite book that I wrote, because I wrote depression as it is. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it can be confusing. Often times it leaves the people surrounding the ill to wonder what the hell is actually going on inside their head.
 
Part of me feels like a hypocrite. Sometimes I wake up in the morning wondering what right I have to tell people that it gets better when I still have monsters in my mind. I wonder what gave me the right to write the things I do when I’ve not fully recovered myself, and potentially never will.
 
But that’s the thing about mental illness–it finds a way to tell you these lies. It finds a way to convince you that you’ll never be good enough and that it’s best to just keep quiet. Because if we keep quiet, no one will get better. If we ignore what’s there, no one will get better, and instead will only get worse.
 
September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Month. On September 10th (which also happens to be my birthday) it is National Suicide Prevention Day, and my plan is to participate in the Suicide Prevention Walk in Reno.
 
We all have our battles, and this is mine. Every day I’m struggling, but I’m also overcoming the struggle every day I don’t self-harm or make an attempt on my life. Even though thoughts can be there, as long as I’m not acting, I’m winning. I’ve already won the battle.
 
Now it’s time to win the war.

How To Love Yourself on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be a day of joy for some, and a day of heartache for others. If you’ve struggled with depression, you may know exactly how this feels, and today you might be feeling rather down.

There are many reasons people may feel sad on Valentine’s Day. You may be single, and watching everyone else be happy with their partners could remind you of something you don’t have. One thing I’ve learned over the last two years is that it’s important to remember to love yourself.

You may be thinking, “I’m not good at that.” Or, “I don’t deserve love.” Or maybe even, “I’ve been single for so long. I don’t think anyone could ever want me.” It can be a challenge to think positively on a day like this if you’re at all like me. Here are a few things to keep in mind this Valentine’s Day.

1. Relationships aren’t everything.

Something I cover in my new book The Long Road Home (April 15, 2016) is that relationships aren’t everything you need in life. Is it nice to be in a relationship? Of course. Is it nice to feel love from someone else? Definitely. But the key to happiness, I’ve learned, is loving yourself. Heck, you can even make a joke about how you’re dating yourself! Buy yourself flowers. Buy yourself some chocolate. Make yourself a nice meal.

This may sound silly, but in fact, you may start to feel better. Even if you want, make a list of the positive things about yourself. This is positive thinking/self-talk. It has been shown that positive thinking can increase mood, even if it’s just for a little while.

2. Friends and family are just as important.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing your partner how much you care about them, but everyone around you. Show your friends and family how much your care (as you should do every day). If you do something nice for someone else, it can help increase your mood as well, and might even help you forget some of the mixed emotions you’re feeling.

3. It’s just a day.

This may seem like common sense, but in all reality, it’s the truth. Valentine’s Day can be hard if you’re struggling with depression, and you may feel hurt and alone.

In truth, Valentine’s Day is just another day. We should love others, and ourselves, every day of the year, and Valentine’ Day is no different. Sure, there’s cards, candy, presents, etc., but as I said in #1, treat yourself. Remind yourself of your own worth, and don’t let a day tell you you’re not worthy of love.

4. You are valuable, and you are lovable. 

Regardless of what you’re going through, what day it is, or how you’re feeling, you are valuable. You deserve love just as much as me, a celebrity, a child, or someone living on the streets. You deserve as much love as someone who may seem better than you, or lesser than you, or someone who seems as though they have it all together.

Love yourself. Don’t put yourself down. Don’t dwell on the loneliness you may be feeling. Don’t constantly tell yourself you’re worthless or don’t deserve love. I promise, you do.

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day, from my heart to yours.

Happy Valentine's Day