be happy be bright be you

I have been thinking of the news of Kate Spade’s passing a lot since I first got the alert on my phone and then the many texts from friends that followed. When I read how she died, my heart got heavy and it made me sad. It seems like everyone is talking about her passing on social media and talking about mental health. From my own experience (because I cannot speak for anyone else), I know more than anyone that we cannot assume what another person was going through or experiencing. People have been bringing up her success, fame and most importantly her fortune and pointing out she had everything that could create a happy life. I know from my own experience, that the resources can be there, the support can be there, medication can be there, but none of that matters when the little voice of negativity in your head speaks louder.

It is not something that I often talk about on the blog because this little corner of the internet is my happy place and creative outlet. You never know what a person is going through in life and we constantly put our smiling faces for the world to see on social media. In college, I dealt with serious depression and isolated myself as I stayed in my bedroom and lost the joy in the things that once brought me joy. One of my greatest life accomplishments was finishing my senior year of college while also dealing with depression. For a while, there was no light at the end of the tunnel and I had the option of going on medical leave while I got better. However, I could not let myself give in to what my depression wanted. I dragged myself out of bed, went to class and spent hours in the library catching up on work. I was exhausted and you could see the depression on my face. I lost so many friends that year and missed out on some vital college moments. I went from being the life of the party to not having the energy to go out on weekends. Through therapy, I was able to identify the source of my depression and move forward. Just keep going. Believing I could do it until I tricked my body into doing it.

I became friends with people who also struggled with depression. What shocked me most is how good we all were at pretending we were okay. Why did we pretend to our friends we were okay and try to hide we were struggling with depression? Why do we try so hard to keep it a secret? Then when something tragic happens, those around us say they had no idea what we were going through? Having a supportive community with people who “get it” make it so much easier to go through life. Everyone’s situation is different, but it changes our world to have someone understand what a bad day really feels like. I cannot tell you how nice it is to hear someone else’s experience and think yes, me too!

My first week in the apartment, I cried. A lot. I hope my mom never reads this blog post because when I would talk to her on the phone everyday, I would lie about how much fun I was having. When in reality, I sat on a couch alone for an entire week with little human interaction. It was a weird transition of settling into a new place and before I started my new job. I started to overthink; did I make the right choice? Should I move back home? Will I ever make new friends? I was still processing the recent breakup and my job of two years being eliminated on such short notice. There were a lot of big life changes and I needed time to process. I needed my new routine. Before moving to Philly, I saw my doctor and we discussed me going on medication during all of these life changes. Nothing to heavy, just something to calm my brain when I would start to overthink. I cannot imagine how my first month here in Philly would have been if I didn’t have a little pill to help me sleep at night.

I work long hours, I go to the gym most nights, take a long shower and eat dinner every single night. Little steps to keep my mind busy because when I sit idle for too long, the depression comes back. From my experience, I know that depression is never cured. I have situational depression, so a situation in my life can trigger my depression to come back. The days before moving to Philly, I had insightful and long conversations with my mom to talk about my mental health. It has been on my to do list for a while now to go back to a therapist, but in the meantime, my mom and I were able to identify the triggers for my situational depression. By identifying these things, I know situations to avoid and when to prepare myself for when the depression may come back.

This past weekend, I was out and did not expect to have a bit of a mental breakdown. I have not cried since first moving to Philly and I was kind of shocked by how fast all of these emotions took over. I cried. I cried a lot and it was an ugly cry. I just let it all out to get it out of my system. I knew why I was upset and there was nothing to do to fix the situation, but to leave. I excused myself and made my way home while I called my friends to talk it out. I thought I was doing okay. I was happy! I spent the entire weekend surrounded by friends and people who liked me. I had such an eventful weekend that I was exhausted! But it didn’t matter because depression never goes away. It does not matter how much money you have, the pearls or polka dots in your closet. We have the ability to feel sad and no one can take that sadness away from us. We can use medications and distractions to suppress the depression, but that little black rain cloud follows us for the rest of our lives.

On Sunday night, I wore my cozy pajamas, curled up on the couch with a friend and took a pill. I vented about what happened and identified what caused everything to unravel. I went to bed with a plan that the next day would be better. I am not sure why I am writing this blog post, but I just opened up a blank document and the words started to come out. I know people who have decided that life was too difficult to keep trying for a better tomorrow. I try not to ask the question “why” because we will never get the answer we are looking for. I just know that we have to work better at being there for each other and more importantly taking care of ourselves. The last few years, I have spent so much time taking care of other people that rarely did I make decisions in my life that just benefited me. Sounds selfish – I know- but this year is going to be about making the best decisions in life that benefit me. In the end, it is not selfish to decided that you need to take care of you.

Call a friend, grab coffee, get a drink after work and go to the gym.

No one is perfect.

But life is always worth living, because tomorrow is a perfect day to try again.

Love to all.

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