Content warning: This post contains information about a survivor's experience with depression, which may affect some survivors.
“Part of Me,” Sarah Fabianski
I’ve always been a positive person.
In most situations, I can spin it so the rain looks like sunshine and a brick wall magically has a ladder so you can climb over it. Optimism is my thing. Positivity is a top strength of mine! So how in the world could I possibly be depressed? I actually had a classmate in high school who commented on the fact that I was “too happy” and that it was inconceivable that someone could never be sad. But he didn’t know. No one knew my internal struggle. My daily battle with myself. At that time, I didn’t even know the extent of that battle that was happening.
Until the latter half of college, I had dismissed my depression off as being bullied, not getting enough sleep or just having a bad day. It was not until my junior year that I realized that while those things were true, I also was being haunted by a monster. One that used my own mind and my past experiences to twist and turn myself against me. Failure messages would fill my mind. They would be on repeat for hours or days at a time until I gave up. Until I was so fatigued that I would stop trying to fight them. And I would put on my happy mask before leaving my house and seeing anyone. They didn’t understand anyway. No one did. Why bother wasting my breath when I had to take care of this on my own.
It wasn’t until I was seeking help from a mental health professional for a rough break up and some stress that I even put a name on it. Conversations started to stray towards the negative thoughts I was having about myself, not necessarily my ex. I could acknowledge all that I had accomplished or what I was good at, but when it came down to how I felt about myself and where life was going, I saw nothing but negativity. That monster was hiding all of the good that could and would come out of my life. All along I would just believe it and spiral downward until hopelessness and helplessness would take over.
Depression is a part of me.
I can’t just “cry it out” or “sleep it off”. It’s always there. There are days where I wake up forgetting its existence, but depression is still there. There are mornings where I wake up and can’t find any other part of me because my depression has taken over like a blizzard. Covering everything and freezing it over. It numbs me for a while. I don’t feel anything. “Your eyes, they look so empty. It scares me.” My best friend said this to me one day where I hadn’t even noticed that the physical symptoms I was feeling, the fatigue, the achy muscles, the headaches were because my monster was taking over.
And there are other days when I wake up and it is a blazing flame, and I feel everything all at once. And no amount of extinguishing makes that sting or pain go away. I spend the day fighting back tears which are over nothing but my mind playing these awful tricks on me. And I know that’s what it is. But knowledge of the problem doesn’t fix it. In order to help, I’ve had to find my personal strategies of what will put the negativity at bay.
I have been extremely blessed with the friends and partner that I have in my life. They are supportive and understanding beyond belief. No matter if they live down the street or states away, I know I have my support system to fall back on. There are days that I may just want to rant. And I am given that space without judgement or interruption. And while they listen, they also know my struggle and after a long rant or a good cry, they make sure I still realize my potential and acknowledge that I am not who the monster says I am.
However, I am aware that not everyone has the same support. And there are times where you are just alone with your thoughts, which are seem to be out to get you. Where lyrics meet melodies have been my best remedy in this situation. Music has always been an outlet for me and in the last few years when my depression has eaten at me, I have found even more meaning in it. On some days, it seems as though the words are speaking specifically to me. Like the song was written just for that moment.
Depression feels different for each person. It’s your brain and your struggle. But don’t forget that you are NEVER alone in it. There is someone else struggling and fighting a battle. And YOU, my friend, are loveable, important and valuable. That is something that no one can ever take from you.
“Somewhere in this place there is hope…greatness isn’t what you think…it’s not convincing people you don’t fall apart…All the fear within your world, you can take it.”
About the art:
This was painted for Sarah using her favorite colors, neutrals, greens, and yellows. The background is a person sitting on the edge of a cave openings overlooking the mountains. The cave opening is in the shape of a heart representing self-love.
The quote is the title of one of Sarah's favorite songs to listen to when she's having a rough day (and if you haven't heard it I highly recommend it!).
I hope that whenever Sarah is having a rough day, she can look at this painting and be reminded of her favorite song and it inspires her to take a deep breath, and just for a moment, let go of all of the expectations and just be who she is in the moment.