Yesterday I heard something in a podcast that left me furious.
A woman and her daughter were telling the story of when the daughter was having suicidal thoughts and was brave enough to ask for help. Instead of receiving real support and aid from the medical professional they turned to, the girl was referred to a hospital. Once there, she and her mother were trapped in a small waiting room, until a bed could be found for her at an inpatient facility. They were then passed into the custody of a police officer who delivered them to the facility.
At the youth crisis center she was sent to, the girl was traumatize, and stripped of her agency and identity. She was separated from her family and even her mail was read before she could see it. She was forced to share her personal thoughts and feelings with a bunch of other kids who she did not know. All the while, not being allowed to speak with anyone of the opposite gender and deprived of all physical contact. She was not even allowed a hug or a high five. The "coping mechanisms" taught were all cheesy and impersonal, but also mandatory if she wanted to be allowed to leave.
This girl was only 12 years old. It is astonishing that a child her age would have the self awareness to understand what was happening to her and the courage to turn to someone for help. In return, she was treated like a criminal and is now being bullied by the other students at her school.
This girl is a hero. After everything that happened to her, she asked to go on her mother's podcast to share her story, because she understands the importance of it. In spite of everything, she still wanted to encourage others to seek help when they need it, and holds out hope that they will actually get it.
To me, this story is an illustration of one of the problems we are facing in this country. The stigma associated with mental illness causes people with those illnesses to be treated as if they are not even people anymore. Those of us with mental illnesses are made to feel shame; like it's somehow our fault.
Rationally, I understand that I have no reason to be ashamed of my depression. My mind just isn't working the way it's supposed to. Still, I have a hard time talking about it with anyone. I even have a hard time sharing my blog posts on Facebook, because my friends on Facebook are people I actually know. Well, no more. No matter what, I refuse to continue feeling ashamed. I refuse to keep hiding what's happening to me because someone else might think worse of me for it. That doesn't mean I'll be talking about it all the time with everyone I know. In spite of having this website, I am a generally private person, but I'm not going to be afraid to talk to my friends about this.
I have depression. I don't like it, but that's the way it is. For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to make sure I am doing what I must, to maintain my mental health. As of right now, I am able to do that without medication, but I need to accept the fact that one day I might need the extra help it provides. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Anyone who thinks that I am less than them or weak because I have depression...well, quite frankly, you can all bite me. I neither need, nor want your approval.
Hello all and welcome to 2018!
Looking back over my last year, it would be easy to say it was a crappy year. I didn't spend as much time with my friends as I should have, I've spent a lot of time not working on anything creative, and I achieved exactly none of the goals I had set for myself.
However, as a person who struggles every day with depression, I've learned that you have to chose to be happy. Maintaining a positive outlook on life is something that you have to work for. In spite of the hits I took this year, I can say that it has been a pretty good year.
While I do still struggle with my depression, I have had far more good days than bad this year. Considering that I failed two semesters of college because I let my depression get so bad I couldn't make myself get out of bed in the morning; that is something to be celebrated. I've learned to recognize when my mind is going to a darker place and focus on activities that make me feel better.
Which is where photography and this website come in. This year, I saved up and bought myself a really nice digital camera. While I'd always been interested in photography, I never understood how it would change the way I see the world. I find myself looking around and imagining how I would frame a photo of the beautiful things I see. When I drive home during sunset, I wish I had my camera so that I could capture the vibrant colors in the sky. I have images in my head of photos I want to take and can't wait until I can make them real. Over time, I will learn more about the technical side of photography, but right now, I'm pretty happy where I'm at.
In spite of the fact that I haven't been very consistent with it, I am also really enjoying running this website. This is the first time in my life I've shared anything I created with someone who wasn't grading it. My anxiety makes it difficult for me, but it also forces me to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. As weird as this may seem to some of you, I really enjoy pushing myself. It makes me feel like I am strong and brave. Its very Gryffindor of me to say, but I value bravery in my life. I've never considered myself to be particularly brave, but I firmly believe that my life gets better every time I push myself to experience something new or fight for something I want.
I also got to go to Japan in April. That was an amazing experience! We were there during the perfect week of spring to see all the cherry blossoms bloom and then fall from the trees. There were moments at the end of our trip where the petals were falling around us like snow. I will admit that Japan had never been at the top of the list of places that I wanted to go, but I have absolutely no regrets about going there. It is a beautiful country filled with history and culture and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to explore it. It also felt really good to be able to travel internationally and be able to pay for it myself.
I did struggle with keeping in touch with my friends this year. The depression and anxiety mixed with my natural introversion make it difficult for me to maintain relationships, especially with people I haven't known for a long time. I have a hard time starting conversations or asking people to hang out. Its not as much of a problem with my closest friends, but only a couple of my best friends actually live in the same city as me. When I first moved in with my current roommate, he introduced me to his group of friends in this city. They were all very kind and welcoming and I couldn't have been more grateful. In spite of my extreme awkwardness, over the past two years I have definitely come to count them as my friends. I just have a hard time expressing that. The time I did spend with them this year was a lot of fun, and I'm going to try to make sure that I am a better friend to everyone in 2018.
I'm going to spend the next few days deciding what my goals for 2018 are going to be. This time, I'm actually going to make sure I work to achieve at least some of them before the year ends.
As we proceed through this next year, I hope you will all enjoy the creations and thoughts I post to this website.