Publishing your life has its rewards. You can edit, cut, and discard all the crap from your life and polish your happy moments into a shiny and spotless surface– even the moments that weren’t all that great are turned into the happiest moments at the flash of a smile, the click of a filter, and the caption that seals the deal.
I’d be lying if I said when my boyfriend and I smiled for a picture I posted on Facebook at a hockey game one time that we hadn’t had an argument just ten minutes before, or the pictures I posted from our cruise with us embraced in one another’s arms next to palm trees and postcard sunsets that almost every night I hadn’t either cried or yelled for reasons unknown. I’d also be lying if I didn’t mention that most of the pictures I’m in, I’m thinking about my seven year depression– consciously or subconsciously, it is a silent prevalence.
I don’t speak much about the ugly parts of my life that take up the most space, mostly because who the hell wants to? But honestly, it is because it puts me in a vulnerable state where I am forced to deal with who I am, the depression that exists within my mind, and the choices I make that enable it. One of the easiest things to do when you are depressed is act like a victim. Everything that happens is being done to me, not because of me. This is one of the worst possible things I and anyone else with depression can think. This kind of thinking victimizes who we are and allows us to live and relive what we’ve been through, the very things that got us there in the first place. Ironically enough, it’s also something I hate about the media, who often pigeon hold victims in the confines of their tragedies, never releasing them to fly and move on with strength. I, who would so effortlessly post a rant on Facebook about this frustrating habit of the media, am just as at fault.
So, why write about this very personal and potentially reputation-ruining subject of my life?
I recently posted an album on reddit and imgur about a baby squirrel I found outside my apartment complex. I was in the middle of having a panic attack when I saw him crying near the stairs to my apartment. Everything that was spinning in my mind came to a jolting stop; I needed to take care of this baby squirrel. So, I put my hand out and he crawled into a ball on my palm. I ran upstairs, unsure of how to act or what to do, and went outside to my patio where my dog wouldn’t accidentally hurt him. We spent an hour or so with each other on the patio while I held him close to my chest, covering him with my hand knowing he needed warmth. My awkwardness eventually relaxed and I felt important, a word people with depression never see in themselves. I tried giving him water with a syringe but he only had a drop or two. I couldn’t take care of him the way he needed to be but I was okay with it and knew I would always be okay because of it. I had to get him to a wild rehabilitation center and the following day, I did.
I never named him because he was never mine to name but I felt internally changed. I took control of something I felt that needed to be done and even though this baby squirrel will grow up to be like any other squirrel, I felt I had given something back into the world that I didn’t know I had within me.
Posting this story onto reddit and imgur without my name or viewers knowing who I was, I told the whole story– depression and all. After receiving comforting and encouraging messages and comments, I realized by staying silent about my depression, not only was I giving it the upper hand, I was feeding into what I despise– the existence of the stigma of mental illness. And if I continue to be silent, how will my voice against the stigma of rape, of those who identify with LGBT, of race, of HIV and AIDS, and of depression ever be heard? If I don’t own what it is that fights me, how will I ever win?
**Thank you to the reddit and imgur communities**