Normalizing Conversations About Mental Illness

The past two weeks, I have been struggling quite a bit. I struggle often when the weather changes, despite all of my cognitive knowledge of how much I LOVE fall. Coincidentally, I just started the birth control pill. I have felt incredibly dejected, tired, and it has been hard to do normal day-to-day actions like get out of bed. I cried at almost anything. Everything felt negative. There was this heavy weight on my chest, as I tried to continue on as normal. Ignoring my emotions made me feel like a fake. I skipped two full days of classes to sleep. I wanted to be alone, as if my condition was contagious. I felt congested with emotion and sadness.

Usually in times like this, I absolutely abhor small talk. I makes me feel as if I’m hiding a large part of myself. I feel disingenuous when I say that I’m “good” or “okay” when someone asks me how I am doing. This time, I have allowed myself to open up. At work, one of my boss’ significant other asked me how I am doing outside of classwork. I initially said that I was good, but then I let myself go. I told him I have been kind of down due to a new medication and the change in season. He told me, “Yeah, I don’t really do well without a lot of sunlight.” I felt calmer and safer just for a moment. This very normal description of Seasonal Depression was refreshing. It fit in all of society’s restrictions on what conversations are acceptable, but it felt so much more honest and open.

Earlier in the week, I took to social media to share with the “close friends” distinction on instagram that I needed some stress relief advice and help with seeking therapy. I received more thoughtful conversation starters than I had anticipated. Friends reached out with their own past and current experiences, and I had productive conversations with them all. They were supportive and uplifting. My partner reached out to me too, just to say that he was proud of me for sharing my struggles with others, saying that, “vulnerability is vulnerability whether it’s in front of thousands or a few.”

While, I am by no means cured, I feel a little fraction of the weight lifted. I felt more open to the idea of help and with the idea of sharing my pain with others. With every interaction, I felt a little bit more of myself. Authenticity and honesty are some of my characteristics that I value in myself. It has meant a great deal to be able to share about my experiences, even the darker ones.

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