note to self: depression is a liar

My New Year’s resolution this year was to let someone read my writing. Aside from my articles and editorials from high school journalism, I’d never let a single soul read a creative writing piece penned by my hand. When I made the resolution, I assumed I would let one or two people read my writing. My sister, my boyfriend, my best friend, or someone who I knew wouldn’t make fun of me if the writing was terrible or the prose lackluster.

When I shared my blog post to Facebook, I assumed the same 60-100 people who regularly see what I’m up to would read it. That was a scary enough step.

Now, 7 million views and counting later, I can safely say that I have fully achieved my NY Resolution.

I never expected the response I received from my writing. Depression has a way of making you feel that you are the first person in the history of the world to feel what you feel and think what you think. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two weeks, it’s that depression is a liar. And, I have thousands of blog comments, reposts, news articles, and emails to prove it if I ever forget.

To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.

I am humbled. I am excited. I’m perpetually nauseous.

I decided to write one more post to address some feedback I received, and to give all the lovely people who followed my blog an idea of where I’m headed next.

To start, thank you so much for every person that commented, reblogged, emailed to share their personal stories and struggles with mental illness, or have gotten a semicolon tattoo. I have read every single comment and reblog, and am working to respond to all emails and Facebook messages as soon as possible. Every person that shared their story, even just to me, is brave, and beautiful, and I admire and love you all dearly.

Originally, my tattoo was so representative of my own internal struggle, and felt intensely personal to my experience. Now that so many have read my story and gotten the same tattoo, it still feels intensely personal, but now, every time I look at it, I’m reminded of how many people are on my side.

Well, most people. Some people have accused me of trying to be the hero, or of glorifying mental illness or trying to make a “meaningful” tattoo trendy. Which is funny in itself: I decided to get the tattoo at 4pm that day, and by 5:30 I had gotten the tattoo and was eating dinner at home. An hour later, I’d written and posted the blog post. The middle body of that blog post was originally written to be performed as spoken-word poetry. It wasn’t edited for a blog. It was creative, not expository. Like I said, I didn’t think anyone would read it. There was no agenda, no plan. I still can’t believe it blew up the way it did.

To be honest, I got the tattoo because that morning I woke up wanting to kill myself. I was terrified that there would come a day I wouldn’t want to talk myself out of it. So I got the tattoo as a physical reminder (a reminder literally etched into my skin) that there was a time where I was strong enough to want to keep going. It felt a little like a last-ditch effort. I’m not a beautiful story of triumph over mental illness. I’m just a girl who triumphed yesterday. And am working on triumphing today.

There’s nothing trendy about depression. There’s nothing beautiful about killing yourself. I’m not a hero, I’m simply a girl with a story who wanted to share it so other people who were struggling knew they weren’t alone. 

Please don’t get me wrong when you read my story about my struggle with mental illness. I’m just a 20-year old college student who is in the process of changing her major for the sixth time, finished Orange is the New Black Season 3 in 72 hours, and regularly locks her keys in the car. I am no expert on life or on mental illness. The only thing I can claim expertise on is my own experience, which you all read about in my last post.

So many people have it worse than me. So many people have struggled for longer. I received emails from humans in their late 70’s, who’ve struggled with mental illness for most of their life. I’ve struggled for a couple months. But here’s the stigma I was trying to break with my last post, and the stigma I’ll try to break again, here: you are not required to earn your depression. Or anxiety. Or eating disorder. Or bipolar disorder. It is an illness, and thus has no real parameters for attacking the body.

There’s a tweet I love that sums up my thoughts on this:

IMG_2257

I didn’t write about the specific causes of my mental illness for a very specific reason. For starters, the circumstances that brought me to filling my first antidepressant prescription are no one’s business but mine and my therapist’s. And, again, I do not have to earn my depression.

But, I digress.

Last thing: I have decided that this post will be the last I will make available to the internet for the time being. I have been lucky enough to have received many offers to appear on podcasts, be a part of organizations, print my writing in magazines, etc. Project Semicolon has reached out to me about regularly blogging. Mizzou Department of Marketing & Communications wants to interview me about on-campus resources. I was interviewed by Buzzfeed today, for God’s sake.

It’s wonderful to know people have found hope, encouragement, and solace in my words. But, I’m still a student. I need to focus on school, my campus involvement, my relationships. I am a sociology major who confidently plans to pursue a social-justice related career, but I don’t believe it’s the right time in my life to dive into non-profit work. For now I’m just going to be me, and work on healing.

I’m an incredibly privileged human being to be able to have had such a large impact on humans. One of my biggest passions is being an ally to marginalized humans: I am a white, well-off, college-educated, cisgender, heterosexual woman who the opposite sex tends to find attractive, and this means that I am oftentimes the beneficiary of everything that is wrong with society. When society is ugly and biased towards marginalized populations, I benefit.

I spoke up about my mental illness so that I could maybe use my privilege to help those that can’t speak for themselves, and will continue to do that on the University of Missouri campus. I promise to continue to be an advocate for mental health awareness, to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, and continue to start those difficult, uncomfortable conversations that need to be had.

My tattoo is healing, and so am I. 

I hope the millions who have reached out to me or who identified with my story will begin to heal, too. The world sucks more often that not. I hope we can all find beauty in today regardless. HP

A few other things regarding mental illness that I’d like you to keep in mind when you’re working to be an advocate of mental health awareness:

-African-American adult are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites.

-Every 65 minutes, a veteran of the United States commits suicide.

-The suicide rate for transgender or gender non-conforming humans are nearly 35% higher than that of the overall U.S. population.

-Racial and ethnic minority populations are less likely to have access to available mental health services, are less likely to receive needed mental health care, often receive poorer quality care, and are significantly under-represented in mental health research.

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31 thoughts on “note to self: depression is a liar

  1. adw07 says:

    you are an amazing woman! keep on the good fight and know we are not alone. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ddszoo says:

    We are all races and social status, thank you for sharing. The world needs to understand depression/mental illness can look like anyone you know and does. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paige says:

    It breaks my heart to read this. I’m appalled by the idea that anyone implied you were playing the hero card, trying to be trendy, or doing anything at all that might glorify mental illness. For heaven’s sake. I stumbled across your semicolon blog on WordPress a few days ago just as I had posted my own blog to myself, a private one I’ve kept for the past two years as I’ve been working through my own dark days — and one that completely derailed my life. I wanted to thank you for posting it right away because it was exactly what I needed to read at that moment, and also to encourage you in the fight that so many may stigmatize or not understand. However, I didn’t have the energy to post or craft my thoughts for you very well at that time because I was suffering a bit of a backslide, feeling a heaviness that was more oppressive than it had been in quite a long time. I was feeling completely lost, alone, and distressed. This was emphasized by the fact I had previously thought I’d worked through quite a lot, but it still pops up out of nowhere sometimes and takes me down. I’m so glad you’ve had so many other people reach out to you and affirm you, and thrilled that so many who might be suffering had the chance to read your words.

    I’d never heard about the Semicolon Project, but I started reading about it that day. I love the encouragement it inspires and its mission which is so simply and beautifully conveyed. And most of all, I want to affirm you 100% that depression IS a LIAR. All the time. It makes you believe terrible things that aren’t truth, and I have fought this over and over. I’m getting better at recognizing it when it happens, but times like this past weekend I found myself believing old lies that I’d long ago worked through. Remember it is always the liar, and never your truth. It wants you to believe its shaming, hopelessness, and a litany of other things set out to destroy you. I met with my therapist yesterday and it laid wide open all the lies for me again — there they were, just hanging out with their stupid truth costumes. I have much better perspective today, but I know the lies can strike again in the future. My battle hit me in my 30s instead of my 20s — although I had seen hints of it in my 20s without really knowing what to do with it. Either way, it does not discriminate — which is why I’m so appalled that you received the negative comments you mention above. I know a lot of people don’t understand it as I still don’t know what to say to dear friends sometimes. But I also know that more people may begin to understand it, at least a little, because of your post and the new opportunities to share your story. Focus on your healing most of all. Much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “You are not required to earn your depression” – that one sentence just let me take a deep breath again. It’s just what I needed to be able to say to myself when someone (or my own thoughts) attack me for not having a “reason” to be “sad.” Thank you for that.
    Thanks for sharing your writing and best of luck with school!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You’re amazing. Keep being you — your truest, authentic self. I have found that real life experience reaches people’s hearts any day over the words of a scholar on a subject they’ve only read about… You’re voice was heard for a reason. And I hope you found healing in knowing that you’ve touched so many people just by sharing your story…

    All my best to you.. 💙😘

    Liked by 1 person

  6. scarlettmorrison10 says:

    Thank you so much for this. Your blog posts are so honest, and it baffles me that I can read the words you write and have the exact same thoughts in my own head. And you’re so right, sometimes it does feel like you are the only person in your situation when it really is the most untrue thing in the world. For a while, I considered the semi-colon as my second tattoo, but I decided that I’m going to get an arrow on my right wrist, so it’s always there on my dominant hand, a reminder that when we feel like we are being pulled back the most, we will spring forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tridenhour93 says:

    So glad you made your New Years resolution to let people read your writings! You open up just enough to make connections with the people in this world around you who struggle with the things that you do. And even if a reader doesn’t struggle with depression, they can easily connect with your inspiring honesty of what it looks like to be a human being trying to make sense of the world that we live in. Great job on your posts. Love reading them and look forward to reading more of them! I hope you continue to grow in life and to break down the walls of life!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “So I got the tattoo as a physical reminder (a reminder literally etched into my skin) that there was a time where I was strong enough to want to keep going.”

    I had to take a quick breath in reading that. I’m at work right now so bursting into tears isn’t a good idea. The tattoo was a great idea, and I’m glad you’ve got something to remind you of something so important. You’re doing well, good luck for your studies.

    Damn right depression is a liar – I think more people need reminding of that more often.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ryankathryn says:

    Love this, just as beautiful as the first

    Liked by 1 person

  10. anna says:

    Gotta keep on keeping oon—blessed be.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. All kinds of things cause depression. All kinds of people have experienced it. Keep plugging along, and don’t let it get the best of you. Best wishes for whatever career you pursue. Your writing is beautiful. And thanks for being brave enough to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Angie Hammons says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a very blessed and intelligent because you recognized and reached out to get the help you needed. It’s a shame that their are such negative people in the world that manage to turn even something as heartwarming as your story of courage and strength into something bad. God Bless you as you continue to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love your story, the power behind your words, and your strength. I saw the semicolon project on facebook and was curious as to what that is. I have suffered from depression since I was young. I feel like depression is a mental illness that has not been truly brought to light. Those that struggle with it often feel ashamed, alone, and all around defeated. The more people that speak out, the more chance there will be for others to feel safe getting help. I liked your story because it is not a success one. You are not saying you beat depression so everyone should follow your magical potion of positivity to do the same. Clearly, you fight this battle every day. You are not afraid to write about your weaknesses and mistakes. And you do it all in the name of helping others. Seriously, I may not know you personally but I know that your heart is in an amazing place. Your honesty is going to help so many. Thank you for helping me feel less alone tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Could not have related to this more, I am such a cynic that putting my work out there ..seems too much of useless stress .. I’m trying to work on it. Reading this helped, I’ll try and put my blog for everyone to see. *gets clammy hands* :/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] is a Christian with a strong trust in Jesus.  She wrote her final blog post last week so she could get on with her […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Devve says:

    you are a beautiful young women. I love your courage. Depression isn’t easy to speak of. I have endured it for over 40 years. It is a liar, but the illness is the truth. Blessings to you. A thousand times over.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. jmzook says:

    You are strong. I admire your courage. Sending love, hugs, and positive energy your way that you continue on this path. Thank you for sharing your story and tattoo with all of us. You’ve made a huge difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jmzook says:

    Reblogged this on passion, purpose, & gratitude and commented:
    This young woman is strong and has so much courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Donna Morgan says:

    Thanks.

    Like

  20. Reblogged this on In the life of a book addict and commented:
    So many things she says reminds me of myself. I never share the hundreds of notebooks filled with words. I hope someday I will find the courage. Everyday that I don’t let myself give in counts as a win, everyday that I wake up after a long night of fighting my demons counts as a win.

    Like

  21. achapin3 says:

    In your attempt to revitalize yourself and prevent an untimely death by your own hands you did something wonderful. You took a simple symbol from our language and gave people hope.
    I think you know the feeling all to well of being on the fence with the belief that death would feel better than to continue to feel the depression.
    Humans are simple creatures with a complex thinking process and you tapped into what millions have been looking for, that one piece of hope that keeps them on this side of the dirt.
    I have struggled with depression for years and had contemplated suicide multiple times and even when I was feeling better I still thought about it. Why keep going, why? But there was always something that pulled me out. You have managed to do this one simple act of courage and I can only imagine how many people you have saved for the dark grasp of the beast we call depression.
    For that I thank you and hope that you continue on with your quest to just keep going. Regardless if you never post another piece you have earned your wings and should be called a humanitarian.
    The choice is yours if you engage in the media or not, its a lot of pressure and stress and who wants that. However; If you need help writing your bio book one of these days I would be happy to help.
    Just another depression survivor- Austin

    Like

  22. Todd says:

    You have a brave and touching story. Thank you for sharing it. It actually came up on my facebook news feed randomly, but I am happy that it did. My daughter and I both struggle with depression…that warm, wet, too heavy to lift blanket that wraps itself around you and won’t let you go, no matter what you do to shed it. We have fought and continue to fight and both got the semicolon wrist tattoo yesterday to show solidarity in this movement. Ironically, at the tattoo parlor, there was an anxious girl at the counter that said “let me see what you got” and when we showed her, she showed us hers too…the same wrist placed semicolon. And right away, we felt like we knew each other, but I suppose we did in an odd way, like being part of a secret club that has gone on secretly far too long. This sickness and the movement is touching so many people. It is a sickness that isn’t cured by 2 days off or work or school and then we are cured and it is business as usual. It is something that cannot be shaken off…it lingers. And it rears its ugly head whenever it wants to with it’s own will. I come from a good home, nice upbringing, never had too much trauma or too many things to struggle with, yet I am afflicted just like anyone else can be…no rythym or reason. It is just there, lurking for the next time it decides it wants to try to take control. We’ll my daughter and I are trying to take control of it back and realize there is more, there are things that we can do, and we are not alone. It’s bigger than that…it’s bigger than both of us and we will continue to fight each day so that it doesn’t have the last word, but that our stories end when they are supposed to which is a long long time from now, not soon and not due to some illness that wants to say otherwise.

    Like

  23. Reblogged this on Books, Movies, and More and commented:
    Anxiety is a liar too. I still fight it every day, some more than others. I’ve come close to giving up before, but I won’t. I won’t stop pushing myself until I hit my goals.

    Like

  24. mkmg21 says:

    Still one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read about. Congratulations on choosing to stay alive and fighting through your battle. Don’t ever stop. And thank you for speaking up for the millions of people who haven’t found their voice yet. I admire you.

    Like

  25. Anthony says:

    Thankyou

    Like

  26. Mrs. P. L. Holler says:

    Thank you for sharing as you have, expressing yourself so well. You’ve obviously impacted many! Choosing to focus on what you need right now – you go, girl! As a mom, I’m proud for you – in taking charge of your life this way & at your age, it’s admirable. May God bless you in your steps forward! PLH

    Like

  27. jewszki says:

    Reblogged this on theworldisfukd and commented:
    Absolute Twaddle
    \

    Like

  28. […] NOTE TO SELF: DEPRESSION IS A LIAR […]

    Like

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