I thought I could live quietly and happily without accolades from other people for beating depression. It turns out that I can’t. It is unbelievable to me that I turned my life around–went from nosediving into a downwards trajectory to cruising steadily at a good altitude–and it means nothing to anyone except me.
My friends who know what it’s like to be depressed don’t think it’s remarkable, because people with depression seldom have the greatest self-esteem. My friends who don’t know cannot fathom that something as simple for them as living could be so difficult for someone else. My family, well, they’re first generation immigrants to the United States. They don’t think depression is real.
I want a goddamn trophy. I want participation medals and consolation prizes. Because for all the self-growth and self-help and self-love I’ve created for myself, my mental health is still not a winner. It turns out that I still have anxiety, and I’ve got to get yet another therapist and embark on yet another multi-year mental health journey. I’ve come so far, and yet I’m not close to the finish line at all.
So I want a prize. I want a celebration. A party I can enjoy for the moment, before picking my backpack off the ground to continue up the mountain. We must imagine Sisyphus happy – and we must imagine that bragging about my pretty-okay brain will give me the strength to keep working on it.
I’m an adult now, and people meet me as the fairly put together person I am today. They have no idea that I wasn’t just born this way. I might talk to my friends today about the deepest issues I have at the present, but we rarely get to talking about the issues in my past that I’ve long gotten over. It’s a triumph that I don’t feel inclined to dig up painful issues from the past, but it means I never have a chance to show people how far I’ve come. My silence is my peace is my invisibility.
My anxiety today can be excruciating, but it is clearly better than whatever I was dealing with only a few years ago. There’s no way to deny that I’m on an upwards trajectory. But during my day to day I don’t feel accomplished that often, only exasperated at whatever bit of worry or sadness has popped up that day. I have to focus on the progress I’ve already made or else I feel a bit hopeless.
Because honestly, does anyone really fix themselves completely before dying? Don’t people die all the time having never quit smoking or confessed their love to someone they cherish? It’s not great but I don’t know if I can hope for a miracle at this point. At least I will get somewhere trying this hard for so long. Reach for the moon, land among the stars.
I’m thinking I’ll be more forcefully candid from now on about what I’ve overcome. It’ll be hard to convey exactly why it was so hard, or to even explain the situation to people who grew up differently from me. But at this point I have to try, or be mute forever. I want to be seen and understood, and I want that fucking trophy.