Here I am, sitting in my favorite library, wondering what I should do with myself. Do I have material to study? Of course. Finals are approaching– but I can’t focus on them. I can’t focus on anything, really. I want to write… but about what? There are so many thoughts circulating in my mind; they scream and whisper and blur into a never ending static buzz that is deafening. The task of thinking is strenuous– I want to simply turn off my brain and descend into the serenity of oblivion. This desire of stagnancy is juxtaposed with my want to be vividly alive. I want to experience consciousness in its greatest form; I want to explore and learn and discover. I want my younger self– the one who believed in her own intelligence and her ability to change the world– to be in control of my mind again. I want the task of existing to not be so utterly exhausting.
I know that so far my writing has made it seem like I hate my life. I don’t. I am receiving a fantastic education, I am part of the greatest band East of all points West, and I have parents who have supported me endlessly. On a more basic level, I have what many people don’t– shelter, food, clothes, and access to clean water. I am grateful for my opportunities to thrive; I look forward to studying and eventually doing research in cognitive science. I am fully aware of my life being wonderful– I wouldn’t change it in any way. These low periods are not caused by terrible life events or unfortunate circumstances. When I am asked “what made you depressed?” or “what’s wrong?” I never have a satisfactory answer. Does my life make me depressed? Absolutely not.
Depression is not always something that one can pinpoint on a certain life event (if you want to read more, here is a helpful article by NAMI). My depression is based on biology; I have a family history of mental illness. My dopamine and other neurotransmitter levels aren’t normal. I take medication, and for the most part it helps. Recently, however, the medication doesn’t seem to be working– my dose has tripled in the course of a month, but my demons continue to haunt me with increasing force.
The problem with high functioning depression is that it is often invisible. Anyone who knows me sees someone who gets good grades, smiles constantly, and is involved in multiple activities. They see the girl who was drum major, awarded best advocate in mock trial on multiple occasions, and in the top 4% of her high school class. Sure, I have opened up about my depression and anxiety on social media. I have no problem with telling people that sometimes my mind is a fucking mess. I go from days that I wear makeup and take pride in my appearance to days like today where I literally rolled out of bed, threw on my boyfriend’s hoodie, and left my dorm. If you truly know me, it’s easy to see when I struggle and when I’m okay. But if you were to look at my life from the outside, you would never know the way my demons scream within my mind. I live a normal life. I function well enough that I am currently attending a prestigious university. For the most part, I can be curious and I can marvel at the universe and existence without wanting to die.
Hiding in plain sight is… difficult. Exhausting. On one hand, I want to do everything– I want to do research, travel abroad, and make an impact. I don’t want to let my demons win. But on the other hand, I often find myself too depleted of energy to move. On the days that I skip classes, it’s not because I don’t care. Even while I lay in bed, too exhausted to function, I hate that I am missing the presentation of more knowledge. I want to be in class, writing notes and expanding my mind. I wish that I didn’t wake up each morning with lethargy and fatigue coursing through my veins. To be quite honest, I am terrified of the day that my will to learn and exist fades. Masking my chaotic mind day after day is no easy task; it’s difficult as Hell. But I like to think that I fight it. I fight my demons, even when they’re screaming that I have no value.
Why? Why do I want to continually fight this Hell that is mental illness? Some days– days like yesterday, when I never left my bed– I don’t know how to answer that question. I don’t know if any of us truly know why we put energy into so many of the things we do. Have you ever stopped to analyze how you feel about your own existence? If not, I encourage you to. I do it all the time, when my mind is a train wreck and I look for some strand of hope to cling to.
Yeah, sometimes I hate my mind. But my mind is everything that I am– I can’t escape it. Sometimes it feels like a prison. Sometimes it feels like my access to the universe. What matters most (to me, at least) is that I tell my demons to fuck themselves. I tell them to fuck right off, and I fight to keep existing.
Darkness is eradicated by light. Fight to be your own light, and continue to live in our beautiful existence.