#BeReal – ABBIE

My #BeReal guest today is Abbie.

More than once, Abbie has been on the other end of one of my tear filled messages.  Like many who suffer from depression you wouldn’t know by looking at her, or even working next to her that she lives with “suffers from” Major Depressive Disorder.  Please welcome my friend Abbie!

 

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There was a time when I imagined a future filled with dreams and hope.  I thought my trusting nature and compassion towards others would guide me in my passions toward a meaningful and fulfilling life.  I believed in the friendships I spent time cultivating and nurturing, taking pride in being the best friend I could be.  I loved college and never doubted my elders when they said I would find my place in the world upon graduating.  I had goals of getting my master’s degree, not only to further my education and career, but mainly because I loved academia.  Being successful in whatever path I ended up choosing was my destiny because I was driven and intelligent.

I was a vibrant young girl who believed everything I went through would only make me stronger and better equipped to impact the world in positive ways.  I didn’t know then that I would spend the rest of my life fighting for my sanity and survival.  I didn’t know the fight would be against my own brain, a battle invisible to everyone around me.  I didn’t know that nearly all of my longest-known and best friends would abandon me because, in their words, they couldn’t handle my illness.  I didn’t know it would destroy my plans for a career, or make my dreams of motherhood become enormously ‘at-risk.’  I didn’t know depression would slowly, painstakingly strip me of the person I thought I was – the person I dreamed I would be.

Now, my truth is different.  In my eyes, in my heart, I am a failure.

Every single thing changes when you have to fight for your life.  Depression has the ability to change aspects of your personality.  It has the power to destroy all logical and intelligent thought processes.  And it is capable of convincing you that death is the only way to stop the madness.  Any insecurity you’ve ever had is magnified tenfold.  You doubt every decision you’ve ever made and every decision you’re about to make.  While your soul craves social connection and understanding to keep you grounded, people largely don’t understand, which is a deeply isolating feeling.  Then isolating becomes second nature and I think that’s when I started to slowly lose tiny pieces of my spark.

I graduated from high school and college, just as I was told I needed to do in order to be successful.  After college I spent four years battling a severe depressive episode.  Those are important years for a college graduate.  You work as an intern, make connections, figure out what your options are and how to get where you want to end up.  I was in intensive outpatient treatment five days a week.  I checked myself into a psychiatric unit at the local hospital for four days at one point.  I could barely hold down a retail job.  By the time the episode lifted I had a four-year gap to explain to prospective employers and I could only find part-time jobs.  I worked in the field for a few years, I never found a single full-time position, and I certainly couldn’t make a living.  I was miserable.  My degree had proven to be another failure.  A very expensive piece of paper that is worthless.  I let my parents down and I’ve let myself down.  I have a full-time job now that has nothing to do with my field of study and I make ten dollars an hour.  This is a failure to me.  Once again, I have not reached my potential.  I know there are many people in the same position as myself, or worse.  I sound ungrateful, I sound like a selfish snob.   I am neither but how I sound is not the point, it’s how I feel.

During the four years of that episode I lost every friend I ever had except one, and one other has reached out to me since.  I don’t blame them. I was depressed beyond measure and awful then, but I am forever changed by their abandonment.  I’ve lost faith in the compassion of others, and I am scared, maybe even unwilling to let anyone as close to me again.  Being judged for something I have no control over and to be found wanting empowers depression’s voice that I am not enough.  My experiences have also weakened my compassion for others, which was once a defining characteristic of my personality.

I currently take ten pills between the time I wake up and the time I go to bed, sometimes more if my anxiety is high.  I also take the depo-provera contraceptive injection in an effort to keep my hormones level, otherwise, two weeks of every month I am overwhelmed with suicidal ideations.  I take a fish oil pill with the highest concentration of EPA on the market because 1000-2000mg of EPA per day has been shown in studies to help patients with depression.  I still cry nearly every day.  When I’m not crying I feel more numb than anything.  The meds have affected my memory, my ability to focus and think clearly, and they have affected my personality.  I no longer have a sex drive.  At all.  I’ve been on all of the meds that are supposed to have lower sexual side effects, they didn’t help my depression or my sex drive.  I had to explain all of this to my husband and convince him it had nothing to do with him.  Sexuality was once a fun and playful aspect of my personality that I enjoyed, as most people do, but it’s just not there anymore.

The person I thought I was is now fragmented and scattered at best.  Depression has ripped holes in and torn pieces from the young vibrant girl who began this war.  Years of treatments, pills, doctors, failures, and a never ending emotional roller coaster have taken their toll.  I feel like a science experiment.  I have very little self-confidence or self-worth.  My dignity is paper thin, I don’t know where the medication ends and my personality begins anymore.  I fear I am fading away like the color in an old photograph. Those tiny sparks that kept being chipped away added up, now I’m not sure there’s any spark left. Honestly, I’m exhausted – I don’t want to live this way.  

Hasty convinced me that telling my story, the raw honest unfiltered version would make a difference. I have to be honest, depression tells me I shouldn’t. That I’ll sound worthless and pathetic. But one thing I’ve learned is that silence is NOT the answer. Being real is hard because this is my truth. I know it’s ugly and I am not seeking sympathy. My story is just one of millions who live with major depressive disorder and have not found an effective treatment.


 

Abbie is a published poet & established writer, paid to write website content & maintain a professional blog.  TED Talks DepressionAbbie has lived with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of her life. She finds comfort and release in writing about her journey and has found many others who do as well. She created this page in an effort towards education, awareness, fighting stigma and cultivating community. For more about her personal journey start here.

25 thoughts on “#BeReal – ABBIE

    • It was definitely a challenge to be THIS real about my life. I hope somebody out there will read it and feel a bit less alone. Thank you for the re-blog, very much appreciated❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Abbie. As a person who lives each day with optimism (not counting the November elections), thank you for helping me to understand living life at the other end of the spectrum. My heart aches for the losses you’ve felt. I have no words of wisdom or inspiration. Only appreciation for your strength.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As a fan of your writing, Ned, I am humbled by your comments here. I hope you never truly understand what life is like at my end of the spectrum, but having compassion is what matters. My words of wisdom for you… Embrace and appreciate every moment of happiness and optimism you enjoy in life – not only for yourself but also for those of us who struggle to see the light. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 2 people

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  3. Thank you Abbie for sharing. I can relate somewhat to what you say having a ‘mental episode’ the first year I started working after University. I can’t say exactly I know what you went through because each experience with depression is different. I haven’t been able to go back to work for 8 years now. But I’m hoping to get into a MFA next year online, start it and do one course one at a time. That is how I deal with things. Maybe, that could be an option for you?

    You haven’t “ruined” your life. It’s not your fault you got this disease and it’s not your fault, your friend’s didn’t understand. When you feel up to it, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to some of the people who were your better friends and explain what happened. Send them a link even, about Major Depressive disorder so they understand better. I know it hurts they didn’t stay around but you have to try.

    This piece really touched me. You are not a failure, you are an excellent writer. We have dark times in life and horrible things to deal with, not everyone gets that, but I hope you can see the good through the bad. Little moments even. Take things a day at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with what you could’ve done. Take your life now and live it to the fullest, that’s all you can do. If you ever want to talk I’m here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, depression affects everyone differently. I realize others don’t see me as a failure and perhaps I am not, but it is how I feel. Sometimes, more often than not in my case, feelings are much stronger than facts and logic.

      I have made efforts to reach out to certain people from my past, but have found that while most are willing to ‘move on’ from the past they are still not interested in being my friend. They were and are aware of my diagnosis, they understand enough to know they don’t want to be a part of my life.

      When my medications are working and I am not in the depths of a major episode I am able to see through the darkness. I can enjoy life like most people do, when the meds are right. Currently, there is a deep and consuming darkness within me that no amount of medication or treatments have been able to touch. I am taking steps to get the help I need, but I am afraid it will break me before the professionals get things in place.

      You are very kind to write such a long and thoughtful response to my piece. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement. I have not been posting as much on my own blog recently, feeling strangled and paralyzed from the depression, though I hope you will follow me there and I will try to start writing again.

      Love,
      Abbie

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, Abbie I followed your blog. Keep fighting, you can do this! Sometimes maybe thoughts of feeling like a failure are the depression talking, not you. Hope you feel like posting more, maybe it will help make you feel better too? Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

  4. This always hits me hard because I have loved someone who had depression and, if they even felt a part of what you described here I grieve for what could have been and the pain this illness causes, the destruction it creates in its wake.
    I myself don’t understand fully, but I know what it feels like to feel like you are a disappointment, a failure, worthless. I’ve felt all these and they can bring you down so low you worry you will never recover.
    Hope you will always have love even if someone might not understand, like some of the people, friends from your past.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Let me thank you on behalf of the person you loved who had depression. We are not easy to love, trust me, I know! It is painful and as you well know it does leave destruction in its wake. Be glad, thankful even, that you don’t understand fully. To understand fully is to experience it and I hope you never do, but to have compassion is what matters.

      If you haven’t had a chance to check out my page, Depression: Catalyst for Change ( http://rem.ax/1XAme7A ) it’s my effort to promote education, awareness, cultivate a compassionate community and fight stigma.

      The one thing I do have in my life is love, for which I am eternally grateful. Not to say my loved ones don’t struggle with understanding my complex thoughts and emotions, what to say and how to be supportive, it’s a battle for all involved. It is painful and destructive in all of our lives. My amazing husband bears the brunt of my erratic mood swings and uncontrollable episodes of crying. I doubt my parents realized I would still need so much of their support in so many ways 32 years after my birth, and I know they harbor guilt over the genetic aspects of my illness. Without them, my husband and my parents, I am quite sure I would not be alive today.

      Sorry for rambling. Thank you for reading, commenting, and caring🙂

      Much love,
      Abbie

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand. I tend to ramble too.🙂
        I know how it feels, as my parents help me a lot too, as they feel a special sense of responsibility and protectiveness over my brother and myself, and also a bit of guilt that our syndrome is genetically inherited, even if logically they know they didn’t choose to pass it along.
        I am glad you haven’t given up. I wouldn’t be here either, for more physical and medical reasons than from mental illness, but I am sure you understand too physical conditions, if you experience any physical symptoms of depression, as I know many do.
        I have tried to stay in contact or to reach out to re-establish a friendship before and it feels often like people are always kind to me, but nobody really wants a blind woman as an actual friend, someone to spend any real time with.
        I will go check out your site right now. Good for you for making a difference and speaking out. I know you say you’ve had trouble writing anything much lately, but we will be here as soon as you do. Always happy to read and listen.

        Liked by 2 people

    • If I let depression’s voice dictate my choices, if I let it silence me… it wins. Lately, it has been winning too often. My voice is small, it feels weak and powerless, but it is my only weapon in this war. Thank you for reading, you give strength to my words.❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you Abbie for sharing your soul with Hasty’s readers. I also have struggled but not to the extent you have. Love and blessings to you and by the way you are not a failure but a beautiful, talented women.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love you, Abbie. Ya brave gal, you. This helped me, how ’bout that? Bet you didn’t see that comin’.😉

    You are shedding light on things that are still so stigmatized. That is endearing. Every little bit helps. & This is a lot- imagine what it did.😉

    Imagine the girl or guy who feels all alone right now who may be getting ready for some high school exam that you just helped. Or the mother, or the doctor…etc, etc.❤

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Abbie, you’re immensely strong and courageous and I’m so glad you shared this, and that you’re there for other people who struggle. You have a huge heart and so SO much goodness in you. Love you huge❤

    Liked by 1 person

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