Have you read a story about a student who, despite all odds and adversity, overcame their situations and excelled in school? Or watched a clip about a young adult who has their entire life figured out before they’ve even graduated? Has it left you thinking ‘why can’t I just do that?’
Here’s something for you: don’t compare your progress to someone else’s.
Sometimes progress is just getting out of bed. Sometimes it’s eating, and showering, and responding to all those texts you never got around to. Sometimes it’s catching up on homework.
Sometimes it is just existing.
If you’ve done any of these, despite everything in your head telling you these aren’t accomplishments, then I’m proud of you.
When you have depression, anxiety, or any of the mental disorders that rear their ugly heads during young adulthood, simple tasks may not be simple for you. Everything in your head is telling you to just get over it and that it isn’t as bad as you’re making it seem.
Sometimes you’ll hear it from other people. They might see your irritability as lashing out. Your anxiety might seem irrational. Your homework, which was once a walk in the park for you, might leave you feeling like a complete and utter failure.
I’ve been there.
It was ugly. Sometimes I was oversleeping, or not sleeping enough, or overeating, or not eating enough. I felt what was the emotional equivalent of watching paint dry. I was very anxious about all the homework I was too depressed to do.
You would think hitting rock bottom is a one-time thing. I’m telling you from experience that that isn’t true.
I spent days, even weeks lying in bed thinking “this can’t be happening to me.” I was raised to believe only adults could get depressed. It started when I was a teen, and is yet to become less prevalent in my life. And the sooner I accepted that, I was able to begin dealing with it.
Since then, I’ve quit multiple jobs, canceled more social outings than I can count, failed classes, missed appointments, got dumped because I was too depressed, and ended some relationships for that same reason.
None of these decisions were easy. But they were ones I made in the name of self-preservation.
Studies say that this is a familiar narrative for one in five of us. Even though so many Canadians are experiencing mental health issues, we deal with it quietly because of the many stigmas around it. We assume our personalities are the problem when that isn’t actually the case. So, I can’t stress this enough: it is a disease.