Trigger warning: self-harm
Having a mental illness is a continual battle against yourself. You have your good days, sure, but you have your bad days, too. You get inside your own head. Your brain says horrible things, tries to coax you into doing things you know you shouldn't do. You're filled to the brim with self-hate, making you feel unlovable. I mean, you can't even love yourself, for crying out loud.
Growing up, we've been given false expectations of relationships. That's nothing new, but the worst part of this is that we're taught that being in love fixes everything. You're magically healed and happy all the time because their love makes everything better. You don't hurt yourself anymore, all of your toxic behaviors vanish, and you love every inch of yourself.
That's bullshit and the fact that I used to believe it hurt me so, so much.
I knew for awhile growing up that something was "off" about me. In high school, I knew that the way I felt wasn't what others would deem as normal. I knew everyone else didn't overextend themselves in a plethora of activities for the sole goal of being too busy to think. After being forced into counseling for anger management issues, a counselor discussed the possibility of being depressed.
When I came to college, I was finally able to get anti-depressants on my own accord. I didn't need to try to convince my family that I needed them. The exhaustion that comes with the trial and error of finding an anti-depressant that works isn't talked about as much as it should be, because it was a real struggle that I had a very hard time enduring. The medication I was on during my early years of college just made everything worse.
I had been in a long-term relationship with a guy since approximately sophomore year of high school. He was a few years older than me, so our relationship became a long-distance one after I went to college. This is hard enough as is, but when I began to have a bad reaction to my medication, the strain in our relationship only grew.
He began to make me feel lesser than himself, whether that was intentional harm on his part or not. When I would be so depressed I couldn't leave my bed, he would shame me for it. He made me feel like being so immobilized by my mental health was something I should just stop doing, and when I couldn't, he'd grow more irritated with me.
When I would self-harm, I would be scolded. Instead of being concerned, I was addressed like his daughter, being told to "not do that again." When I went to the hospital for it, he didn't so much as visit me. Any time I would try to be open with him about my self-harming, it was greeted with anger, like he couldn't believe I would do such a thing. I eventually stopped telling him anything about my cuts or even my mental health in general for fear of feeling worse about myself than I already did.
It wasn't until I told some close friends of his reactions and overall treatment of me being depressed that I learned that this illness didn't make me lesser than anyone else, especially him. I was told that his toxic behavior shouldn't be something I should tolerate.
After breaking up with my ex and changing medications, I now realize that him shaming and scolding me like he was my superior only reflects poorly on himself. It exposes his personal flaws, not mine. Depression happens, and the hurt that I continue to endure throughout my battle with it isn't my fault. I strive to cope and grow every day, and that's something I'm proud of. I don't feel ashamed to talk about my struggles anymore.
Believing that being in my relationship meant I should be happy constantly and not at all depressed caused my heart to endure so much pain. When someone I loved spoke to me like I should be ashamed of myself, I began to think less of myself, more than I already did to begin with.
Not understanding depression is one thing. It's something that's different for each person affected by it, so it's difficult to understand if you aren't someone who is depressed. Shaming someone for their depression or any mental illness, though, isn't okay. It's not understandable, it's not acceptable, and it's not tolerable.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255