“Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”

“Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”

[October 15, 2017]

I struggled with writing my blog today. The words just didn’t seem to want to come. Sometimes that happens. Most of the time, I just persevere and work through the block but today I just wanted to give up. None of the words that I put down on the page today seemed quite right. In fact they all seemed quite inadequate. Words can fail a writer sometimes and after hours of agonizing over the right combination of words, I realized I just wasn’t up to writing a blog today. Well, not the blog I started out writing anyway.

I woke up with doubt today. I woke up in sadness. You see, I have been living with depression for many years and, while most of the time I am fine, some days I relapse and it gets the best of me. I am doing all the right things. I see a therapist. I take antidepressants. I practice mindfulness. I meditate. But sometimes, despite all my efforts, the darkness moves in; takes over and derails my day. During those times I doubt my work and myself. I tell myself that the book isn’t worth the ten years that I spent on it, and lament the fact that I do not have a real—or at least conventional— career. In this unhealthy state, I lose hope that anyone will ever see my book and I fear that my efforts to publicize it through social media are, at best, misguided and, at worst, pointless.

It is easy for me during these dark days to let my mood spiral out of control. It is easy for me to just want to give up. On these days, though, I have to remind myself that the disease of depression distorts my reality and stops me from seeing the good things in my life; a horrible perspective for sure but one that can be fought against and, with practice, overcome.

I fight the good fight everyday. Most of the time it is fairly easy. My truly dark days are thankfully behind me. But on days like today it can still be a challenge to even get out of bed.

I am writing about my fight against depression today because I made a promise to myself to always speak the truth in my blogs. And also because dealing with my depression while writing the blog posts, as well as during the writing of %Justin Case and the Closet Monster%, has always been something that I have had to contend with.

For some people, depression just doesn’t go away with medication and therapy; it instead becomes part of their makeup, lurking in the shadows ready to resurface when appropriately triggered. Though most of my days I do not feel depressed, some days –like today- my depression can reassert itself and leave me scrambling for the right coping mechanism.

Thankfully, however, I have learned to manage my depression. Being mindful and meditating helps, but I must always be vigilant in order to safeguard myself against feeling overwhelmed. I am proud to say that depression no longer rules my life or robs me of my happiness and though I wish it would go away completely I know, from past experience, that I am strong enough to fight it.

So why am I sharing all of this with you today? To tell you the truth: when trying to write my blog today these are the only words that felt right. Sometimes I write a blog and sometimes it writes itself.

Today, I wrote this blog in the hopes of shinning a light on something that we do not like to talk about. If you suffer from depression or anxiety you know that there is a terrible stigma attached to this illness. Some insist that it isn’t a real illness at all. They believe that depression is merely weakness or laziness. With stigma comes shame and, knowing a little bit about shame from my time in the closet, I know the only way to diminish that shame is to share.

So, as scary as it is to divulge my battle with depression to you, I do it in the hopes that hearing my story may help to strip that stigma of its power. I am not weak. I am not lazy. There is no shame in admitting that you struggle and asking for help is most definitely a sign of courage and strength and not a sign of fragility. In my opinion, people who battle with depression should not feel shame but instead they should feel powerful and brave; because anyone who fights this fight and wins is a fucking hero.

But, as I said at the beginning of this blog, today is a dark day for me. Today, I don’t feel much like a hero. Today, I must make an effort to be mindful and take the time to meditate. Today, I have to fight and remind myself that giving up is not an option and that the hopelessness that I feel is a symptom of my disease and not my reality. Today – as horrible as it feels – is just a bad day and not a reflection of all the days yet to come.

So with all the tools that I have learned from years of therapy I go on fighting the good fight.

So where does that leave us?

Well I need to tell you that I didn’t write this blog for you to feel sorry for me. There is no need. Just because I suffer from periods of depression doesn’t mean I never feel happy. It doesn’t mean that I cannot see the good stuff in my life. I can. I know that I am blessed with a loving family, great friends, and a husband who doesn’t go one day without showing me how much he loves me. My blessings are many and I mindfully count them everyday, especially on a day like today, because they are in the end what keeps the darkness at bay.

In the end, I suppose I was inspired to write this blog today because I could. Because even though it is a bad day today, for the most part I am generally in a good place and that needs to be acknowledged. Though I am not in a place to celebrate today, I am still grateful that I am strong enough to break the silence and overcome my shame because it is only in talking honestly about our struggles that we, as a society, can hope to understand them. It is only then that people like me are made aware that they are not alone.

So for those of you that struggle with the darkness, I pray for you to stay strong and keep fighting the good fight, because even though you might not feel it right now, you are worth it.
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