My Breaking Up With Depression lookbook is compromised of clear and blurred photos, which depicts my life with chronic depression. Wanting to desperately to be happy but not having enough light around me to pull me from the darkness. Notice the dark colored rose on my jacket. Even parts of my life that were supposed to be happy, beautiful, or simply “in color” weren’t. At times, I tried to smile through the pain, but it never lasted.
The objective of my Breaking Up photo series is to give the audience a visual of the things that shaped, impacted, and controlled my life for 34 years. Now, 38, after shedding my dark past, I’m able to share those experiences and help others take that first step in moving forward.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a medical professional. However, I am going to describe my depression, which was clinical or major depression. Right before “the confrontation” I had with myself—I even experienced bouts of hypomania with uncontrollable racing thoughts and irritability. Hypomania is a lesser form of Manic Depression; it doesn’t encompass all of its characteristics. Manic Depression is now being labeled as Bipolar Disorder. I never received a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I did receive a diagnosis of PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Psychologists say that you can be clinically depressed and not have bipolar disorder. However, according to John M. Grohol, Psy.D. “You can’t have bipolar disorder without also having had an episode of clinical depression.” If you want to learn more, read his article What is the Difference Between Depression and Manic Depression? The article goes on to suggest that a clinically depressed person will not have any symptoms of mania. I disagree.
For about two years, I didn’t sleep. Not because I didn’t want or need to sleep—I couldn’t. Either I had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The most I slept at night was two hours. The reason: racing and uncontrollable thoughts, which they diagnosed me as having insomnia. There’s no question that lack of sleep will make you irritable. There you go, I’m already two symptoms in. I encourage people to compare the symptoms of insomnia to bipolar disorder and notice the similarities of lack of concentration, disruption of sleep, irritability etc. These two disorders are more similar when a person is experiencing the lows of bipolar disorder.
There were times I’d wake up from my two-hour nap with a burst of energy to clean the entire house. I’m not talking about a “run-around”—more like a spring clean. I took down blinds, turned over couches, and pulled everything out of the cabinets at 2 AM. Problem is, I’d crash before going to work. Then came the crying spells in the car or on the train.
In my depression, I felt like my inner being was in pieces. For example, I desired to do many things like travel, hobbies, and spend time with friends. But, I couldn’t line up my emotional and physical bodies to engage in any activity. If my physical body was at work or church—mentally, I wanted nothing more than to be alone, at home, in the dark sleeping. I was never on one accord with myself.
It took over 25 years to articulate exactly what I was experiencing as a clinically depressed person because of the many stages I went through trying to mask it. I’ve slept away so many good years of my life being in a fog. I can look at old photos right now and have no clue where I was, why I was there, or what was happening.
For a long time, I hid behind sports and exercise. The endorphins from a high intensity workout stabilized my mood. I worked out rain or shine, not to stay in shape, because I needed the adrenaline rush like a junkie. From exercise, I became a workaholic, which kept my mind occupied from dealing with my issues. The only reason I ended up with a MA is because school kept me busy. After years of physical torment, my body finally burned out, and I turned to eating—overeating. I starved my body during the day, not wanting to stop working to eat. When I got home, I gorged on everything I could find and laid down afterwards. There was a period in 2012, where every Friday I went to Papa Johns, ordered a family sized meal of a large pizza, wings, bread sticks, cinnamon twists and ate the entire thing while cracking up at the show Supersize versus Superskinny. Yeah, I know, don’t judge me.
When people think of rock bottom, it’s usually this free-fall from a prominent position down to substandard conditions. Not necessarily. My rock-bottom experience happened over a period of time, I just didn’t realize it. Being clinically depressed means you’re in a constant state of psychological rock bottom.
Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Every time I had a negative experience it sprung into depression. It was like an excuse to feel sorry for myself and live in sadness versus confronting the toxic person or trauma that hurt me. Additionally, catastrophizing and accepting problems instead of searching for solutions. Subconsciously, I would tell myself “Just be depressed, it’s easier.” Dis-order is why I stayed depressed so long. Disorder is nothing but a state of confusion, which translates into layers upon layers of trauma.
It started with living in circumstances beyond my control—as a child—to relinquishing my control to my circumstances as an adult. Depression, to me, in a nutshell is giving yourself over to your circumstances. Telling yourself to give up because life isn’t going to get better. Grieve, until you’re rescued. It’s an immature and unrealistic perception of life.
The fact is, life is always going to present challenges. You have to find a way to deal with them. After you’ve done all you can to change your situation, maybe it’s time to go in another direction. Sometimes saving yourself means letting people and situations go.
In 2013, my life changed. I changed my life. I visited every corner of my mind and took inventory to find out where the dark cloud came from. I examined all of my relationships, decisions, failures, career, habits, traumatic experiences, beliefs, and appearance for answers. I saw psychiatrists, therapists, nutritionists, physicians—you name it.
As I began to peel back the layers, I had to be totally honest with myself about the aspects of my life that weren’t working anymore. Ideas, perceptions, and belief systems that were imposed upon me as a child that I thought I had to carry with me throughout my life. Honestly, I was afraid to change because I didn’t know if people would accept a new version of me. But a remarkable thing happened as I journeyed through the valley—people showed me their true colors. In a sense, it gave me permission not to give a d@#n. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook with people seeking validation from me. So, why did I care about how they felt? I had no moral obligations to anyone but God. They needed to be examining their own lives. I overcame tremendous hurdles to get here. I can say with confident assurance that I am no longer battling with depression. Do I get frustrated, sad, and angry? Yes. The difference is I don’t wrap then tuck my feelings away. I also don’t let them grow out of control in a manner that leads to depression. I say what I want and express how I feel. I’ve shocked some people over the last year but oh well. Life goes on.
Live. Bless. Prosper.