Depression is not a sub emotion of “sadness,” cured with happy thoughts, it is a ticking time bomb on your heart and mind that’s just waiting for the perfect moment to go off.
Throughout my childhood and grade school, I was the happiest person in the world. I had the best siblings anyone could ever have. We escaped a few dark moments in our past but we remained the happiest. Depression was the farthest thing from our wild spirits. In fact, my sister and I use to laugh at people who “claimed” they suffered from it. We were ignorant and thought it was just people being sad for attention, like emo kids. More than once we teased it was a “white” thing because living in a predominantly black neighbor hood and attending a mostly black school, we never really saw people suffering from any sort of depression. Everyone was happy, or so I thought.
In high school, I had the highest self-esteem. I loved who I was. I was an honor roll student. I was what people called a “red bone,” basically a light-skinned black girl. Boys went crazy over girls like this. I got more than my fair share of attention. Everything felt amazing in my life, I was cute, smart and ambitious. I couldn’t wait to graduate because I’d move into the next phase of my life just as cute, smart and ambitious, but more independent and grown up. What teen didn’t want that? It wasn’t until I got into college and for the first time I truly experienced the world, and adult situations that sent me into an endless spiral.
In my freshman year of college, things started out great, but soon everything crashed at the same time. I struggled with my grades and eventually had to drop my dream of becoming a Physical Oceanographer. I then found out my first official boyfriend had cheated on me. The cherry on top came when I found out I had unknowingly contracted a STD (curable) from an ex boyfriend.
At first, I figured it was just a sadness over everything that had happened. My self-esteem was shot, I started to eat like a pig. Still I thought it was just some things I needed to get over with because I wasn’t one to get depressed, that was for other people. What I thought started out as sadness soon escalated to something else. I started to feel different, darker. I tried everything to get back to who I was. I missed her, the cute, smart, and ambitious girl I once was. I questioned why couldn’t I get over whatever was weighing on me. I felt too embarrassed to talk about it. I didn’t want to be a burden and I sure as hell didn’t want my family thinking I was suffering from a “white person” disease. I was changing in a way I couldn’t understand and soon realized I was dealing with the early signs of some form of depression.
Throughout the next three years of my life, I decided to distance myself from everything I once wanted. I didn’t want to date anymore. I turned down every guy before he could ask for my number. I started going everywhere alone, movies, restaurant, shopping malls. I stopped wearing skirts because of my weight gain which now made me look like Shamu in a dress. There was no point in make up because I could still see the girl my own ex boyfriend didn’t want to be with. Learning about the STD made me feel gross and disgusting. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be with anyone, so I created my own cage and lived in it.
Living in that cage set me on a self-destructing path. I felt useless in the world. I wasn’t smart enough to achieve my dream, and I wasn’t attractive enough to keep a guy around. It wasn’t until I started contemplating ways “out” when I realized that if I didn’t find a way to help myself, I’d end up making a very big mistake.
I’ve always loved the outdoors, but thought nothing of it. I was an adventurer at heart. I loved creeping through the woods and exploring rivers, ditches, and abandoned buildings. One day, I visited a regular park that had a large nature trail. Walking through the trail alone brought a small ember of peace. It felt nice and I wanted more of it. I started researching nature trails all over the city and the state. With each hike came adventure, with each adventure brought more happiness and peace. A peace like I’ve never known.
I upgraded my hiking trails to visiting Florida and Georgia State Parks. Exploring the great outdoors was just what the doctor ordered. It gave me time to think about what I wanted out of my life, so I begin repairing myself, and it was the best decision I could ever make.
Today, I work two career paths as a travel blogger and scriptwriter.
Every now and then I can feel the weight of those three years tearing into my new found happiness. When the weight of the world becomes too much, I plan a trip, whether it’s an overnight stay out of town or for a few hours away just for the day, I go. Returning to the hell I was in isn’t an option. I am happy again. It’s a slow crawl back to the cute, smart, ambitious girl I once was, but I see more and more pieces of her appear every time I look in the mirror.