I love my family and everything, but I need to grow up at some point and I figured that twenty years old was probably as good an age as any. Yes, I, Christine Elizabeth Casper, weirdo, Whovian, Potterhead, Ringer, avid fan of good books and food, am twenty years old. That's two decades under my belt, folks. So what's it like to be twenty? No different than being eighteen. But I'm much different that I was two years ago.
Two years ago I lead a sad and numb existence. On paper, nothing should have been wrong with me: I have a family that loves me, I go to church each Sunday, I graduated in the top 20% of my high school class, I had a really good job, a scholarship to college... So why was I so empty?
Many people would likely find the actual reasons for my "condition" to be all in my head or not real, but suppose, for a moment, that things like depression truly could alter the way you participate in life and keep you from seeing how good you really are. You see, that's the whole problem: when you are in the thick of your battle with this, or any mental imbalance, you see yourself as this grotesque creature who ruins everything they touch.
This, my friends is what depression looks like:
Wait, what? That's right: funny man Jim Carrey suffers from depression, showing that depression is usually present in the most unexpected people.
It's also a fairly common mental imbalance- there are millions of Americans medicated for depression every single year. It's really nothing to be ashamed of. There are different types of depression, the kind that I have has to do with a lack of a chemical called serotonin in my brain. This likely comes from events or habits formed throughout life that cause you to feel like you're never good enough and that you don't deserve any form of happiness; the list does go on from there. My type of depression has lasted longer than two weeks and is therefore labeled as "clinical depression."
Why am I saying any of this? It's all very curious, I know. One of my hopes is that one day people will feel comfortable enough with issues such as depression to talk about them more openly. There are so many people in this world that would get help if they only knew that they weren't alone. I felt alone. I felt like I had to be one of the unlucky few who had this "disease" and that I could be cured some day. The truth is that I will never be cured of my depression, I am just learning how to control it better. It's not a disease either. Cancer is a disease, lymphoma is a disease. Asperger's syndrome is not a disease, obsessive compulsive disorders are not diseases, these are mental disorders.
So are you handicapped if you suffer from a mental disorder? In some senses, yes. But not in ways that the general public considers handicaps. Happiness is a choice, right? Yes and no. When you have a mental disorder it's difficult to convince yourself that you are deserving of one thing or another; for me, this was happiness and love.
I would try and try on a daily basis to be more happy... to be happy like everyone else around me. I tried to copy others, to no avail. Through this past year I have learned that your happiness is never the same as someone else's happiness. I had to work through my issues to figure out what the hell made me happy and ways to recognize that happiness. Now I have a better handle on all that stuff and am ready to "face the world" again. I was never hospitalized or anything of that nature, so no worries.
I can't tell you that I haven't had days where I don't want to try and be happy because I did something that I deserve to suffer for. I can't tell you that I haven't wanted to fall back into my old destructive habits, or even that didn't actually repeat some of them. Those would be lies. With everything that's difficult, you have to take it day by day and I have resolved to try my hardest to be better today than I was yesterday. I look to the future far more than I look into the present and while it's wonderful to have goals, it is equally as, if not more, important to experience the here and now. I am still learning how to do this. I'm socially awkward to begin with, so it's probably going to take a while for me to master that skill. I have gotten better though!
I don't like feeling as though my issues are something that need to be hidden from the world. Secrets create tension, in my experience. There are many people who know of my struggles but I just wanted to put it out there on the internet so that maybe I can help others come to terms with their issues and do what they need to do to work on them.
I've typed a lot. I will hopefully write more later.