I Am Not Depression, But I Am Depressed.

I began this post on Aimagessugust 2nd, 2015. I have been wanting it to be ‘perfect‘ to accurately depict my feelings, my emotions and my struggles. But instead of searching for some sort of perfection that doesn’t exist I will post it and hope that at least 2 people will read it and try to understand…


 

“High school is the greatest four years of your life!!”
*4 years pass by*
“College is the greatest four years of your life!!!”

(let’s be real, how many of us have heard this phrase?)

Well…since I didn’t go to college (or at least haven’t yet) does that mean that high school was the greatest? The four years that I spent searching for myself, but losing myself along the way instead? The years that I spent running from everything? The months that I spent struggling? The days that I spent locked away, studying? The hours that I spent crying? The minutes that I spent avoiding others? Those? Those were the greatest years of my life? I surely hope not, because I want people to see me happy, truly happy, for those great times, not just a facade shown best with a dim, fake smile. But will I ever find true happiness, and be able to hold onto it for the rest of my life? Or instead will those monumental 4 years leading to the scariest days of my life, where I lost myself and was given a diagnosis, pave the way for the rest of my life?


Think back to high school: That girl you saw speed walking from one class to the next? The one with the HUGE  backpack, maybe a boot on her right foot, crutches from time to time, or else a stack of textbooks in her hand? What did you think of her? You saw her laughing with her friends at pep-fests, right? You saw her in the library, or in an open area whenever she had free time catching up on homework? But did you really know her? Did you know her as a student, or as a person?

I was that girl. A seemingly ‘try hard’ student some might say. I asked the teachers too many questions. I made sure all of my extra credit was counted. I studied when I needed to, and even more when I didn’t. Not because I loved high school…far from it actually. But senior year in particular, that was the only thing keeping me grounded and somewhat motivated. The main purpose I had to push through the hard times and late nights. If I could just do well on this test I will feel better. If I can increase my grade another 0.2% I will be happier. Right? Wrong.

As I said, school was the only thing I had. Everything else in my life was seeming to slip away and at the time I had no idea what was going on or how to fix it. Friends were leaving. My ankle was making it so that I no longer had dance as a constant activity and a release. All of a sudden college was becoming an out-of-the-question concept. And day in and day out I would sink into a deeper hole of loneliness and wanting to cry, but not knowing why, and just feeling like my life had little to no meaning.

This continued to get worse and eventually my poor mood, lack of energy, and constant need to be in bed, asleep, became apparent to my family. On March 16th of my senior year (2013) my parents brought me into the doctor. They gave me a little “quiz” per se and I was diagnosed with mild to severe depression…All of a sudden certain things made sense. My lack of motivation. My loneliness. The way I pushed so many people out of life. The scary thoughts and scenarios that were on constant replay in my mind. It all made a little bit more sense. It was scary. I was unsure what to do with the news, but I knew that I could continue to say that I was fine and happy and try and figure it out on my own. index

Some people have ‘caught on’ over time and became aware of my diagnosis. But most people in my life are unaware. It isn’t something that I want to keep a secret, but I also don’t have the desire to shout it out to the world. At the time, when I was diagnosed, I was a little embarrassed, now though, more than anything, I don’t want people to just feel sorry for me. I wish that people could understand that it isn’t always a choice. My sometimes sour moods and their fluctuation are not always a choice. I can’t decide to just be happy again. It usually barely makes sense in my head, so it is really hard to explain to others.


Often times I find myself asking ‘Why Me?‘ Why am I the one that is depressed? What did I ab4a9b9629bbb28b47c7c52a7fa1f94fdo to deserve these sort of feelings? Aren’t I already self-confused enough? Do I really need something else to make me question everything around me? Then I try and remember that God only gives us battles that he knows we can push through and handle. He gives His toughest battles to his toughest soldiers. That’s not to say it is easier to deal with because of this, but I do know that I can and will get through it. As the TedEd video explains below, a typical person with depression will feel it’s affects for at least 2 consecutive weeks. Each time that I feel my mental illness affecting me, I know that the sun will come. It may take some time, but It. Will. Come. I will be able to eat normally again. I will feel motivated again. I will sleep again. And I will want to be around people again. Maybe not now, but it will come.

Thank you to everyone who has stood by me the past few years as I was at first unknowingly battling depression, and as I continue to do so now. I haveimages2.png been so appreciative of the people who have offered advice, love and support. I have found out that it is almost always the unexpected who are there for you. During my senior year I lost a lot of my close friends, but then out of nowhere I gained some incredible people in my life that I had barely talked to in the past. These few people realized that I was struggling and offered a helping hand. I also want to thank everyone who continues to offer hugs and support. A mental illness is tough to understand, especially to those who can’t relate personally, but simple gestures go (and have gone) a long way. XOXO


This lengthy post isn’t just for me to get my feelings out, this is for everyone out there struggling. My story is simply my own, depression affects everyone differently but the more people that are open about, and the more understanding there is on mental illness, the easier it is for each person to live with it in our society. Below are some articles and videos which I feel do a great job explaining and getting facts out there about depression, making it easy to understand and make people aware of the stigma that exists and how to rid of it:

Here is a picture that when I first saw it, I judged far too hard core for my own liking, but then I read the caption and it all made sense. Bekah puts depression in a simple way, yet explains the full complexity of it at the same time. Please take a look: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10207864868406352&set =a.1720209891802.2101869.1434946208&type=1

TedEd did a fabulous job with this video about depression. It is short and easy to follow and really educates you on this mental illness:  http://youtu.be/z-IR48Mb3W0

Great article for others to understand what depression is like. “Depression is a terribly mundane monster that sinks its fangs into your back until you’re numb. You sit and watch your life pass you by, unable to reach out and grab it.” http://thoughtcatalog.com/kaitlynn-kelly/2016/01/the-myth-of-choosing-happiness-to-heal-depression/

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Vulnerability

     vul·ner·a·ble
         ˈvəln(ə)rəb(ə)l/
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.

Becoming vulnerable. Putting one’s self out there (wherever ‘there’ might be) in the face of failure, rejection and possible harm. Life is hard enough as is in the ‘simple means of life’ but then we’re supposed to get in harm’s way to achieve something greater? Say what?! Is this even fair?!

          Vulnerability is something that I personally struggle with on a daily basis. I would much rather stay in my own personal, tiny bubble, than have the possibility to be emotionally attacked or hurt. But there are certain situations where one must become vulnerable. One must ignore the possibility of harm and Just Do It! This is how one finds love (haha datinAshley DeWeerdt - First Arabesqueg world? what’s that?! I’m just making an assumption here 😉 ), how people achieve a better job and how people get past their struggles by finding a way to confront them. Becoming vulnerable is scary. There is so much danger and so many bad things that could come from it. But on the other hand there are so SO many good things that it can lead to as well. You have to think about what is on the other side instead of just what lies right in front of you.

Being a dancer I have to try and be vulnerable day in and day out. If I wish to get better and succeed I must push myself past my limits, allow people to correct me and find my flaws, and allow myself to pick apart every little detail to try and reach something greater. Currently I am sending audition materials out to possible future employers. Some companies I feel I have a high chance of hearing good things, but most I must expect hearing a ‘no’ from prior to them even seeing me in-person. I have to put myself out there. Possibly get hurt. And move on. There is no way to achieve bigger and better things without doing just that. I want to move up there in this crazy world of dance, but I have to be ready to be hurt, be rejected and move past it to the 1 maybe even 2 places that want to see me, and want to give me the opportunity to grow.

Today I received my first ‘no’ of the season from a ballet company. The email stated that “We have reviewed your video materials and require nothing further from you at this time. Thank you again for your interest and best wishes in your search for employment.” And I am okay with that. I have sent materials to 5 places. I have heard 1 no, 1 yes, 1 maybe (not making decisions til March, but hey! it’s not a no!) and have yet to hear from the other 2. I know

Ashley DeWeerdt - Headshot
© Eide Photography

that of the 40 or so other companies that review my materials over the next month there will be many more ‘no’s and that is okay. It has to be okay. There is no point in getting upset about it, but instead just being proud of myself for going for something that is hard and frustrating and putting myself out there to be able to try new things, possibly get hurt along the way, but learn and grow as time passes!

 

If you want to see what I’ve been up to in the studio here’s a little link to a variation that I’ve been working on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A9p04y5KwU