Bookish Life: My Past With Depression

Mental Health Awareness Month, June 2014

Mental Health Awareness month is a month-long event hosted by Leah @Uncorked Thoughts and Ula @ Blog of Erised to draw attention to mental health and the issues surrounding it. All throughout June, bloggers are encouraged to read, review, and discuss books involving Mental Health. There will also be guest posts, interviews, giveaways, challenges, and other fun things as well. Check out the sign-up post for further information.

As part of my contribution to Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would share my personal experience with mental health issues. It is something that won’t be surprising to most of my long-time followers; I have briefly talked about my depression before in my Graduation 2013 post and my mom even mentioned it in her guest post. But it’s one of those things that plays a huge role in my life (even to the point that I’ve already written this post once, scheduled it, and then deleted it in a fit of bad feelings), and it’s something that I think most people don’t realize if they don’t know me.

For today’s post, I’m going to talk about My Past With Depression, focusing on my major breakdown. Next week (unless I delete the post in another fit), I’m going to talk about My Present With Depression, and how even though I am at a much better place than I was three years ago, I still struggle with issues surrounding my depression and anxiety.

WARNING: These posts will be personal, and they will be lengthy. Continue at your own risk.


My Past With Depression

In 2011, I suffer from a major breakdown. I was depressed.

I think for many people around me, it was completely unexpected. I was a straight-A student who was engaged to my high school sweetheart and completing my final year of my elementary education degree. Everything I had planned for myself (my career, my romance, my life) was exactly how it should be, and I had no problem playing the happy-go-lucky girl I thought I should be.

But something wasn’t quite right. I was so close to having everything I wanted, and yet it didn’t seem quite right.

I would come home to my fiancé and feel so disconnected from him. I would go to my student teaching placement and be overwhelmed by the students, the supervising teacher, and everyone else. I would go to write a lesson plan and struggle with the fact that no matter what I did I wouldn’t be able to reach every single kid in that classroom. I would be everything I thought I should do, only to feel like I wasn’t really achieving anything at all.

And so I sought an escape.

There was this old online game that I played almost ten years prior that I re-downloaded, and I lost myself in it. Suddenly, I decided I rather spend time talking to people online instead of talking to my fiancé. Instead of working on lesson plans and reflections that were necessary for student teaching and graduation, I played puzzles. The responsible, hard-working, organized girl I worked so hard to be all my life? Gone as I tried to find a way to desperately escape from myself.

And while I continued to push myself away from reality, I got angry. I was upset with my fiancé for not reaching out to me, to make sure I was okay while I stayed up all hours of the night lost in this other reality. I was angry with myself for not doing the schoolwork I needed to do when I was this close to graduation. I was mad at the world for making things worse: all the car problems I would have while trying to get to my placement, the five stitches I needed when I cut my thumb open while prepping for a lesson plan, the guy who took advantage of me while I was not at my best.

Eventually I just lost myself. I snapped.

The fiancé and I broke up. I was angry one day when he came home from work and told him I didn’t think we should be together anymore. His response? “Okay.”

I quit student teaching. My supervising teacher begged me to stay. She had cancer and she told me she was relying on me to graduate and finish my degree so that way if something happens to her I could cover her in the classroom. The pressure was too much. With only ten weeks left before graduation, I walked away.

I moved back home to live with my parents for the first time in four years and fell into a deep hole of depression.

Now, I personally think depression is different for different people. My depression was a complete loss of self. A loss of identity a lost of soul, a loss of life. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life (and even when I think about it now, my stomach clenches and I feel a little bubble of anxiety growing inside of me) – feeling as if I no longer was me.

See, the thing is, as much as something wasn’t quite right before all this happened, I always felt like it was okay because I knew who I was and if it wasn’t okay now it would be because I was working towards all my goals. If I were to just persevere, it would be okay because I had myself and that was all I needed. I engrained that in my brain and really pushed myself because I knew if I wanted to get anywhere it would be with me.

And then suddenly there I am, and I don’t feel like I have me anymore. I don’t feel like I have my very soul, my very essence, anymore. I felt as if the person I was had abandoned me, and all that was left was this physical shell. And when your soul has left you, when all you are is but a shell that used to hold a beautiful person, then what’s the point of carrying on? What’s the point?

That was the deepest and darkest part of my depression. Everything boiled down to not knowing myself and hating it. All I wanted was me again, and I didn’t feel like I would ever get it back.

To help share what I was going through at the time, I decided I would share entries from the journal I kept during my depression. I would spend a hour writing each page, spending most of my energy on trying to make the page pretty instead of focusing wholly on my emotions. And yet they always found their way in…


Who Is Asti, Mental Health Awareness Month, My Past With Depression

 

Help Me, Mental Health Awareness Month, My Past With Depression

Depression, Mental Health Awareness Month, My Past With Depression

Rollercoaster, Mental Health Awareness Month, My Past With Depression

Things I Do, Mental Health Awareness Month, My Past With Depression


How I recovered from such a low point, I’m not quite sure. I think it was a combination three things: picking back up the things I love, exercising, and creating new goals.

One of the main things I did during my depression to try and help me find myself was to pick back up the various hobbies I abandoned over the years. I started to read again, which I had neglected for a long time due to uni work and playing online games. I doodled a lot, and tried not to hate myself when it didn’t turn out quite how I wanted it to. I played the keyboard again, and even picked up my old bass guitar. I did a lot of the little things I used to do for fun and was happy that I could still do them. I felt a little less lost, and was happy that it gave my mind a break from it’s constant self-abuse.

Exercising is something that I never did too regularly. I would go through little work out phases here and there, but never stuck with anything for a prolonged amount of time. But during my depression, I would drive a half hour to the nearest state park and walk on the trails. I absolutely loved it. When I had gone to the doctor for my depression, he had told me that I should exercise because he had never seen a person so tense – and he was right. Walking in the woods where it was so quiet and beautiful really relaxed my mind and helped my body. I thought a lot while I was out there, but it never felt bad because I was surrounded by so much beauty. There was always something there to make me smile, even if it was just the beauty of a leaf that had fallen on the ground.

And, lastly, I created new goals. I thrive off of goals. I was destroyed when I gave up on my original goals, because not only did I feel like a failure but I had no idea how to live life without a goal. I didn’t know what to do with myself. So as I struggled through my depression, I found myself making new goals. They weren’t always the smartest goals – deciding to fly to another country to meet a guy I met online when I had never been on a plane before wasn’t probably the safest or most intelligent decision in my life – but they made me feel better about myself and made me a bit more ambitious. I suddenly felt like I could be a little more crazy in my dreams because I had nothing holding me back. Why not do something  crazy? What did I have to lose?

Somehow, through a combination of those three things, I pulled myself out of my depression. I slowly figured out that I was still me, even if it wasn’t the me I thought I was. I made new plans career wise and went back to school to finish my undergraduate degree in General Studies and applied to UK universities to study for a Publishing MA. And reading became a part of my life again, to the extent that I decided to start a little book blog on the interwebs to share my bookish thoughts.

And of course, I think you know what happened next. I’m in the UK, living with and loving that boy I flew over to visit almost two and a half years ago, and blogging about books. And I’m me (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).


What Do You Think?

I usually like to finish my posts with a question to help encourage conversation, but I’m not quite sure what to ask. What do you think about my depression? (That sounds a bit odd.) Have you struggled with depression before? (That’s a bit personal.) How do you pull yourself out of your bad funks? (That’s not too bad.) Share your thoughts, no matter what they are!

Asti

Read 79 comments

  1. So I’ll admit, I about cried reading your journal entries. I’m glad you’re doing a lot better, and I know it’s a constant battle, even if things seem alright. I’m closer to the journal entries than how you are today, and I find a lot of hope in reading how you were able to dig yourself out of that abyss. Much hugs! <3 Reading is what's been helping me lately, just having difficulty concentrating more than anything. :<

    • Thanks for commenting Shannon. Much hugs to you too!

      It definitely is a constant battle. Even though I’m not where I was when I wrote those journal entries, I still struggle. It seems to go in cycles for me. I’ll be fine for a month or so, and then suddenly crash.

      But it always gets better. And that’s sort of one of the things I’m hoping others get from this post. I think there is a huge majority of us that end up dealing with depression at one point or another in our lives, it can seem so impossible and hopeless. But there is hope. Whether you find it from your friends, your family, you hobbies, or yourself, there is always something to help pull you out of it.

      I get what you mean about reading though! Reading was one of the things I wanted to do, but found it so difficult because I would find myself halfway through a page and realize I’m not actually reading what I’m looking at but am thinking about other things that are distracting my mind. I’m not sure how I got over that. But I hope you find a way through it! Reading is a great hobby and a lifesaver in times when you’re feeling down, because it can help you escape and give you a little break. <3

      If you ever need someone to talk to, don't hesitate to email or tweet me. I know I'm just another random book blogger, but sometimes that's better than nothing!

      • Sometimes getting out some emotions to people who aren’t involved in the situation is really helpful – a lot of the reason counselors are helpful, I think, is because of that!

        Yeah, the exact same thing keeps happening to me, especially if something in the book reminds me of an issue I’m having. Then I have to keep rereading sentences until I’m back in book world again. D: I’m reading a lot slower than I’d like to because of that, I think. ><

  2. Oh Asti! :( I too have struggled with depression since I was 17, and I also escape through an online game which basically made everything better when I was playing. But then when the fighting started on there and people were falling out and leaving, I felt SO awful.

    To me, depression felt like this big hole of nothingness. It felt like nothing was ever going to be right again, and although there were some good moments (like when playing the game), they were temporary. It was actually caused by my time at sixth form college and my friends totally ignoring me and then being really bitchy. I felt like I appeared as this sullen boring person to everyone, all the confidence I’d built up with years of drama lessons was shot down in an instant – and I still haven’t recovered it. Once I left sixth form and started uni I began to feel a LOT better, but still it’s lurking there inside me. It’s cropped up a couple of times in the past seven years, and in fact just a few weeks ago I could feel it there again. I actually ended up going to a counsellor during the second year of uni because it came back with a vengeance, even though I was happy.

    I think that’s the problem with depression. Just because it’s gone, doesn’t mean it’s GONE. I’m so much more emotional than I used to be, as a result of it.

    Thank you for sharing your account, and with such honesty. It’s a horrible, horrible thing that people just don’t understand – some people seem to think that if you just smile and PRETEND you’re okay, it’ll be okay. Err, no. The diary is such a great idea – it really helps to write things down, doesn’t it? :)

    I hope that today is a good day – and so are the next thousand, ten thousand, whatever! :)

    • I always find it interesting how depression differs from person to person – there is obviously some similarities that make it what it is but the causes and factors and how it affects a person can be so different.

      I went to a counsellor as well during my big breakdown. I actually have a journal entry in which I talk about it and how I told my mom after one of my counseling sessions that I wanted to marry him and had spent part of the session trying to figure out if he was married because it was so nice to just talk to someone who listened and could help me make sense of everything. I only went to four or five sessions though, until I decided to drop out of the teaching program. Even that was causing me anxiety because I could only have ten sessions with him at uni for free and then would have to go elsewhere and pay for counseling, and just knowing that I would have no choice to go back stressed me out even more. So yeah.

      I definitely get what you mean about it never fully going away. I hope to write about that next week. It happens with me A LOT. During my last weekly recap I went to write that I was having a bad week and I stopped and it just hit me – don’t I write this like every other week? I really feel like I can go a month or two feeling good and “normal”, and then suddenly it’ll just hit me like nothing else. Bleh!

      But it always gets better, right? That’s what I always remind myself. And looking back at these entries has helped me see that it HAS gotten better. It’s good not to be there anymore.

      And yes, it is therapeutic to write things down! I don’t keep handwritten journals often – once I recovered from that I stopped – but I think it helped me deal with my whirlwind of emotions then and helps me now.

      Anyways, sorry for the incredibly long response. Today has been a good day for me. I hope it’s the same for you <3

  3. I always leave crappy comments to really good posts (apologies in advance. ;) but I know how hard it can be to share such personal things! YOU DID GREAT. I really liked reading this. I struggle with anxiety and it’s not fun, nope. But finding those little things that make life fun again? SO important. I’m so glad things are on the working-out-and-being-great road. I SO HOPE IT STAYS THAT WAY FOR YOU.

  4. I have to agree with conflicteddesires — I teared up while reading all you had to go through those years ago. I don’t really know what to say, other than that I am SO glad and SO proud of you for pulling yourself out of the depression and piecing your life back together and becoming the person you are today: amazing, beautiful, inspiring, and so much more. Those journal entries of yours really packed a punch, though I think you were incredibly brave for sharing something as personal as that.

    You’re lucky you had such a supporting family and so many amazing friends! My depression was different because the cause of it was my mom, which only made things a whole lot harder for me. I don’t actually know what started it, other than that I knew my mother said a lot of things that shattered my self-esteem over and over and over, comparing me to my younger sisters, comparing me to neighbors who were doing so much better than I would or would ever do, basically comparing me to everyone else who was more successful than I was, and I hated it. I’d cry every night and try to write down my feelings, but had to stop because I was crying too much. What’s worse is that none of my family seemed to care. I stopped talking to my parents and they gave me disapproving looks and got angry at me for small things. I didn’t tell any of my friends because I was afraid they’d think I was being petty, and they’d side with my family as well, which would definitely do nothing to help with my too-low self-confidence. I put on a happy front whenever I was around outsiders, and no one suspected a thing. I teared up for no reason at all and pretended I was yawning instead. But most of the time, I felt detached from myself. Even when my parents yelled at me, gave me lectures, I didn’t feel a single thing.

    I wish I could say that I’ve fought the depression completely, that I’m happy as can be, now, but I’m not. I am happy, most of the time, but it is so easy to fall back into those dark thoughts of despair and just stop being happy and brave all the damn time. But that’s what makes you so inspiring, Asti. YOU managed to break free of your depression and become a whole new person and it just gives me hope. Being seventeen and still stuck at home without a driver’s license makes all that kind of hard, as do parents who don’t understand the meaning of intense pain and despair, but reading your story has helped a LOT. Enough of my rambling though! You didn’t sign up to hear my sob story, haha. If anything, I hope this comment tells you just what a wonderful and amazing person you are for sharing this. <3

    • Aw Meg, I want to give you a big fat hug! *HUG*

      If you ever need to talk (you know, in private) about your feelings, you know I’m always here. I have been blessed to have a very close relationship with my mom. Sure, she’s said some hurtful things in the past, including during the depressive breakdown I described above, but she has still always been my biggest supporter and my best friend. I’m really sad that you don’t have the same. If you want, I can share my mom with you? I actually Skyped her earlier today before I came on to check comments and she said she saw your comment and wanted so badly to reply to it because she felt for you, but she decided against it. But I’m sure if she were to respond she would assure you that you are lovely and amazing and something about being a mother and stuff. (Who knows, she may change her mind and write it now that I called her out on it.)

      Anyways, I do hope you know that all the words you use to describe me – amazing, beautiful, inspiring, etc. – are the SAME words I would use to describe you. I value you completely as a person, and I don’t care who your neighbors or your sister or your friends are and how you compare to them – you are perfect just as you are. <3

      And I don't think you should feel bad if these feelings do affect you. Not that we want them to affect us, but it happens to anyone whose struggled with depression. While I am definitely not where I was when my breakdown happened, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I managed to break free of my depression. I wish I could, but it's such a deep part of me that I don't think it'll ever go away. I actually hope to write about that next week! So while I do want to say I have and accept that compliment as inspiration, I can't quite. It comes back to attack me just like it does you. But you know what, we're both two awesome people who will keep on going because we deserve better than all that?

      Anyways, enough rambling. You know I love you, and if you ever need a friend you know how to get ahold of me <3<3

  5. Thank you for sharing your story Asti, it’s wonderful that you came out the other side so brilliantly. It’s an up and down sort of thing, but you seem to be handling it marvellously, just by being so open and concious of it.

  6. Oh Asti, I think I have to agree too, that I really did cry while reading your story. And I have to agree with Meg that I’m so exceptionally proud of how you overcame and fought it, that you came out to be such an inspiring and motivated individual that we all love and adore! :)
    For many people too, I think that even though we APPEAR happy, we try to act happy, like everything’s okay, and that we’re totally fine, we’re not. People don’t expect us to be depressed and to be bitterly unhappy.
    I’m so proud of you Asti; you’ve come such a long way, and I know that we all have it lurking inside of us, that it will come out one day, and that we will have bouts where it springs up on us again, but you know that you made it out once, and you have SO much strength to do it again :) This is so very powerful, and I think you can empower so many other individuals with just your story, because to them, it will mean everything to read about it, just like it meant to me :) <3

    • Aw, didn’t mean to make anyone cry! But I appreciate all the kind words and really do think that the blogosphere does give me a lot of strength <3 If I can just provide some strength to someone else in the blogosphere in return, I will be happy.. Hopefully this post has done that :)

  7. Thank you for sharing this Asti, I mean it. I far from what to take this post away from you or from how amazing it was for you share such an important part of your life, part of you, but I do understand, even in some small manner on the depression front. Reading your journals, reading your post, it really hits a part of your heart, really hits home to me about myself, but I feel as though I know so much more about you now, like a part of you kept to yourself because you didn’t want to burden us, but I’m sure you can see that even knowing this, we’re still here, your followers, your fans, your friends, and that you can always be personal with us so long as you want to be. Once again, thank you, this is a wonderful contribution to Mental Health Awareness Months and you should be pleased :)

    • I don’t talk about it a lot, because I want to be a positive and happy part of the blogosphere and don’t want to drag things down too much with such posts, so am glad that this has received positive feedback overall. I appreciate each and everyone one of my fans/followers/fans, and the support has meant a lot! So thank you <3

  8. “And when your soul has left you, when all you are is but a shell that used to hold a beautiful person,” *goosebumps* What a very powerful post. I’ve never had a depression, but there was a time where I felt so lonely – but I had my family and most of all myself. I can only imagine how it must feel like to feel so lost, so detached from yourself. You sound incredibly strong and I admire how you climbed up and look how far you’ve come. You are a person to be proud of Asti :)

    • Aw thanks Mel <3 Having family around is definitely huge. If it weren't for my family during that time, I'm not quite sure what would have happened to me. They were extremely patient and understanding, and that's just what I needed at that time. :) I'm glad you have your family there for you when you need them as well!

  9. Absolutely fantastic post! Eloquently written, honest, strong, just fantastic. I have suffered from anxiety attacks, PTSD and depression in the past and I’ve attended CBT to try and pull myself out of it. The last real bout I had was around 2-3 years ago now, and while I still have some anxiety symptoms, and can feel myself hitting a slump in my mood like anyone else, I’m very aware of the triggers and of how I’m feeling and what I need to make sure I can stop it from happening again. So, so brave of you to tell your story, sharing like that is never easy. You should be so proud of what you’ve overcome and where you are now. Big hugs. R x

    • Aw thanks Rachel. Big hugs to you as well, and I’m so glad to hear it’s been two to three years since your last real bout. I guess I should consider myself lucky that for the most part that has really been the only time I’ve felt like that. I do still get the slumps and anxiety and other bad feelings every once in a while, definitely, but I can luckily say I have never gotten back to that point (and nor do I want to)! I do worry though sometimes, because while I’m very aware of my moods and what’s going on, I’m not quite sure I completely have a handle on how to take care of myself when they appear. That’s something I have to continually work on, so hopefully it gets better.

      Anyways, thank you again for your kind words, and I hope us both happiness and strength going forward <3

  10. Oh Asti, reading this made me want to tear up as well. *hugs* I’m so proud of you and you’re definitely one of the strongest people I know and an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us your journey. I’ve never had depression so I can’t fully understand how it feels but I can only imagine. I’ve had dark moments at times but things have gotten so much better since I’ve discovered blogging. I’m so happy and glad you managed to pull through <3

    • I’m glad you’ve never had depression Charlotte! In a way, it’s scary how when a post like this goes up so many people admit that they too suffer. Not scary as in I rather people not admit to it, but scary that so many of us struggle with it. So keep on doing what you do and take care of yourself <3 And yes! The blogosphere is definitely helpful. Once you get past comparing yourself to others and obsessing over stats, you can focus on the friendships and support systems that the blogosphere offers and it's truly an amazing thing! I really think it has helped me through a lot in this past year <3

  11. It takes a lot of courage to be so honest and to share you struggles. And a lot of strength to pull yourself out of a place like that. I can totally relate to your walks in the woods and how that helped. Growing up I was surrounded by forests and every time I needed to clear my head I would just go for a walk. Things just seemed so much simpler out away from everything else.

    I’m so glad you’re in a better place today and you’re willing to share your journey :)

    • Yes! Just being out in the trees can be perfection. I love it! I’ve just discovered a little wooded area by where I’m living now (I just moved in the past week) and so I’m planning on taking advantage of it to experience that peacefulness again :) Thanks Annie!

  12. I’ve never suffered from depression so I don’t feel one hundred percent qualified to comment too much, but I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re so, so brave for writing this post. The journal entries you shared touched me so much, I had a lump in my throat reading them. You’re such a strong person, Asti. I’m so glad you’re in a better place now.

  13. Thank you for posting this! I know how scary it is to put all of this out there, but I’m so glad you did! It wasn’t until the event this month and I posted my own struggle with depression that I realized how many people struggle with it, and want to be there to encourage you. It’s so nice to know that we’re not alone, especially when a lot of us seem like we have it all together. I hope you can post the other section of this; I’d love to hear how you’re handling it today :)

    I’m not much of an arty person, but I love all of your journal entries. It seems like they’d be really therapeutic. You have beautiful handwriting, by the way :D

    • Yes! It is quite strange (I’m not quite sure that’s the right word choice) when writing a post about depression to see how many people suffer from it or can relate to what you’ve written in some way. It almost seems crazy that there’s all this stigma and people are afraid to talk about it when it affects so, so many. It definitely makes you realize that even if no one has the same story as you, you’re not alone. We’re on the same page, I think <3

      I do plan on having the second section of this post scheduled later this week. And Kelley was inspired by this post to share some of her own story, which I think will be up tomorrow. It's sort of awesome how we can all inspire and support each other in the blogosphere, it's one of my favorite parts of being a blogger.

      Oh, and yes, doing the journals was quite therapeutic at the time! I would spend hourssss making a single page, and even rip out a page and rewrite it if I didn't like something. (I'm surprised I didn't do that with the Who Is Asti page since there's a messed up word on there.) In between entries I would also just randomly doodle things. It was my attempt to writing out my feelings to try and sort through them, while detaching myself from them by making it sort of a project instead. Sometimes I wish I wouldn't have stopped, since I sort of gave it up after I started feeling better. But I don't know, for some reason I can never seem to sticks with journals.

      And thanks! I blame my handwriting on wanting to be an elementary teacher. I really wanted that perfect manuscript handwriting for writing on chalkboards :P

  14. This post is so honest and beautiful, especially the pages from your notebook.
    I haven’t faced depression myself but my dad struggled with depression last summer. We haven’t been able to talk about it with each other very frankly. He doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his experience with me, which I can understand. I’m glad he can talk about it with my mum at least because I was very scared for him. He was keeping it all bottled up inside and it was hurting him.
    I know that even though he’s not overwhelmed by it outwardly at the moment that there is something of it under the surface.
    I love him so much. I want to hug him tight and make it go away, but it’s something to be managed more than ‘solved’.
    Even though depression can affect people in all kinds of different way, I find your post helpful for when I’m trying to be there for my dad, it gives me some kind of insight into the truly deep impact depression has on the internal well-being of the person affected.
    I don’t express myself very well but basically what I want to say is thank you.

    • I’m so glad that this has helped Ren. I was hoping it would help someone in someway. Depression is something my family members have dealt with as well, so even before I dealt with it myself I had to cope while my parents struggled with it. So in a way, I can understand. You can’t really understand what’s going on until you’ve been there (and even then, it’s different for each person so it can still be hard to understand) and all you want to do is to make it better. Especially when it’s your parents. They mean so much and you sort of take it for granted that they will always be strong and there for you, so when they’re not it can be a shock and you almost feel like it’s your duty to make it better since they would do so for you.

      I think your love for your dad shows through though, and that’s a great thing. As long as you show him your love and support, you’re doing the right thing. You’re definitely right when you said it’s something to be managed, and not solved. While I’m sure my parents want to do nothing more than to magically heal me, they know that all they can do is show me their support whenever those bad times appear (as they will). And honestly, while I didn’t highlight that in my post (because I was focusing on the things I did and was in control with to heal and not external factors), I definitely think my parents played a big role in my recovery. Their understanding, patience, and love was huge for me and proved to me that I was worth it even when I didn’t quite feel it myself.

      Anyways, I’m not sure where I got to with this long rambly response of a comment. But thank you for commenting and making me feel better about this post. I wish your dad continued strength and wellness, and you as well <3

  15. I have battled depression before myself (I can’t believe it’s been 10 years) and dealt with it pretty much the same way you did. I found old hobbies and brought them back, I made myself go on walks, I made a list EVERY DAY of what exactly I was going to do that day. This is because if I felt there was nothing going on in the day what was the point of that day. It was a long tough journey. My family really helped me get through it. I don’t know if I would be here without them. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Yes. I do think in a way those small things can really be quite healing. And yes! Though I didn’t quite highlight it as much as I maybe should have, my family were amazing during all of this. I mean, I moved back home and my mom accompanied everywhere from my doctor visits to some of my walks in the park. It meant a lot to me. To just have their love and constant support made it feel more manageable. I can’t even imagine what would have happened without them. Family is so important <3

  16. Oh Asti, what a powerful post. It’s so, so brave that you decided to share this part of your story with us, and especially the diary entries made me cry. I have thought about posting about depression a few times, because my story is different from yours, but I too, have suffered from depression. Sometimes I am not quite sure I’m over it, to be honest. I was at my lowest last year and it was also mostly described as “anxiety”. And yes, anxiety is a big (massive) part of it, but anxiety is not the same as depression. Depression can’t be described in terms. I’m still scared to fall back into it, because I never want to be in that place again. But at least it is slowly getting better. Blogging has actually played a big role in this for me, because it allowed me to create something of my own that I am proud of and that I can do in the safety of my own home. With a loving family and great new friends, I’m getting there. I am so, so happy you are happy now, and you writing about this is really inspiring for me. <3

    • I understand so, so much. That’s actually what I hope to write about this week in my second part of this post. I don’t think depression ever goes away, and on top of that depression anxiety has found a home. It’s like the second I start feeling down, start feeling depressed, I get REALLY freaked out that I’m going to go back to that dark place and I have anxiety. And it almost becomes this vicious cycle. It goes from feeling a little down, to getting anxious about it, to feeling depressive because I’m so anxious and flipping out, to feeling more anxious because it’s going to happen again. And yeah, it’s such a nasty cycle. I don’t quite know how I get out of it. But I do have to say, the blogosphere has helped so much. It is great to be surrounded by so many amazing and supportive people. I think there’s a beauty in it, because you can choose to present yourself without talking about any of it and get so much support, and then when you do decide to show more of yourself – whether it’s just saying other hobbies you like to do or writing a big post like this – everyone jumps in and gives you love and it’s so amazing. So yes, the blogosphere is so helpful.

      Thank you for your kind words Judith. I wish you happiness and strength for each day ahead. There will always be tough days, but if I can somehow manage it I think you can too. You’re amazing, talented, and creative. Don’t forget it <3

  17. It’s so hard to leave comments on posts like this…because they’re so touching and personal and it’s like I just want to go BLAHHHH HERE ARE ALL MY EMOTIONS ABOUT THIS, LOOK AT THEM AND YOU’LL UNDERSTAND HOW I FEEL. But instead I have to try to make words. And it’s not easy.

    I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety since I was 13 years old…so almost 10 years. I wouldn’t say that it was the same type of experience that you had with your depression, but what you said was still so easy to relate to. I could totally understand what you were saying and how you were feeling. Drugs are what really helped for me, too. Realizing that this is something that I will have to battle for the rest of my life, medication is the only thing that makes LIVING something that I can do. For me, it’s been more of an up-and-down roller coaster over the years kind of a thing vs. one big breakdown, but I’d definitely say that getting really into reading these past few years has helped me a lot. It gives my emotions a healthy place to escape, and also a place to relate. Music helps, too.

    Just…thank you so much for writing this post. It was so brave of you :) Putting all of that personal stuff out there…it’s definitely not easy and I really look up to you for that. And it’s crazy how many people reading this post will relate to what you’re saying.

    • It definitely is crazy how many people have said they can relate to this post, in one way or another. It’s sort of weird how when you’re going through it you can feel so alone like it’s only happening to you and that you just can’t survive, and yet when you come out of it and do something like this and find out all these others… it makes you realize you’re not alone. And that’s sort of comforting. If others are managing with it, so can I, right?

      If only it were that easy! Obviously depression just doesn’t go away, and I’m still dealing with it – even if it’s not to the extent of this – as you have for so long. Of course, I don’t know how well I’m managing. I really dislike taking pills. I don’t even like taking an Advil when I have a headache. Unless I feel seriously bad, I just don’t do it. So as soon as I started feeling better, I stopped taking my depression meds. I do still have my anxiety ones that I take when dealing with crushing feelings of badness and anxiety, but I only allow myself to take them rarely. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I do think it’d help at times because I really can’t go more than two months without struggling with a bit of it, but I don’t know. I just can’t seem to bring myself to take pills. Ah well. It’s something I’ll have to consider in the future.

      Thanks for the comment Miranda <3 Everyone's kind words have been amazing and I appreciate everyone's support.

  18. I just want to say that I think it’s very brave of you to post this – I’m a very private person so I don’t think I would be able to. I admire you for writing this post; I’m sure you have helped anyone who has read this post suffering with depression and have let them know that it can get better and be managed with time. I knew that you have suffered from depression but after reading this I don’t think I really understood the extent of it – reading this made me tear up. You know that I’m always here if you need to talk – I can’t promise that I will always know what to say but I’m a damn good listener. You know I make you laugh: our texts are always filled with lols (wait, or is that just me laughing at my own jokes). Don’t hurt my feelings – just laugh along with me and pretend I’m funny.

    • For some reason I’m much more open about my depression than most. I’m not sure why. Maybe because most of my family has dealt with it so for me it’s a normal thing to talk about? I don’t know, but I’d not say I’m necessarily brave for this.

      It was a really bad time for me, that’s for sure. And I definitely don’t think it’s gone all the way (as I’ll talk about at some point this week). My moods sort of take swings and a lot of it goes back to this moment, I think. Of course, alcohol never helps – as you know. :P

      And yes, I am very thankful for your friendship. I didn’t really have any friends when I went through my depression, and even now I can only seem to really manage them when I’m online. In person I just fail. So the fact that I was able to come out of this year with one friend feels good, and it always make the Publishing MA worth it! ;) So thanks Chantelle! Continue to laugh at your own jokes in our texts anytime.

  19. Asti, thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with us. I can’t imagine that it was an easy choice. I’ve had a lot of low points in my life– filled with darkness and hopelessness but I think I’m better now. I don’t think all of it is gone away entirely and I don’t think it ever will but waking up happy and light is just a great feeling.

    I am so happy to know you and be able to read your story. You’re an incredibly strong person. If you ever want to talk, hit me up!

    • Will do Jessica! I love the blogosphere just for this reason – everyone is so supportive and lovely. I really feel like I have made so many friends through blogging. <3

      And yes, it never seems to completely go away - as I will talk about in my follow up post. But it makes those days that are good that much better. :)

  20. First, I admire you so much. Everything that you did, even in the deepest darkest parts of the depression, was brave. You are HERE, you’re alive and you’re facing your feelings head on. I just want to hug you and then hug you some more. GO ASTI. YOU ROCK.

    Second, coming from a fellow type-A personality, I totally get the feeling overwhelmed aspects of what you said, like no matter how hard you try, you won’t reach everyone. That’s frustrating, because it feels like failure. That happens a lot in my job right now, and I just have to take some deep breaths, tell myself that I can’t control whether or not my students and fellow staff members do what I want them to do, and try to find a different way with them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I go home and want to beat my head against the wall. Some days my students do something so amazing that it erases those other days. It’s a mixed bag.

    This post was brave, and you are awesome. That’s what I really wanted to say. *hugs*

    • Aw thanks Terri <3 Not only for your kind words, but also just for understanding. It is so hard having our personalities when in certain jobs. I think the fact that you have stuck with it and have been managing your feelings while at your job is amazing. For some it can be not that big of a thing, but when you have a personality like we do - it can be so hard. So be proud of yourself for those days that you get through it with grace and beauty, and forgive yourself for those days you just want to give up on it all. I think you're an inspiration for hanging in there and not giving up.

      *hugs*

  21. I don’t know what to add in this comment, because everyone else has already said what I want to say. You’re a very brave person for sharing this, Asti! *hugs* Thank you so much, because it is really inspiring to see how far you’ve come since then. :)

  22. Thank you for sharing your story, Asti. I, too, have battled depression on and off but was usually able to cope with the help of my mom. She was a big help for me. Your story is very inspiring and I think I may do something like this on my blog. Stay strong, Asti. You’re a great person.:)

  23. Growing up, my mom had depression, and we’ve never really talked about it (it was all around though). I don’t know where I’m going with that thought, because I can’t say I’ve been there myself, but I’m glad you are doing well now and you see you again. I have a coworker who has been struggling with some mental health problems, and it irks me to no end when others say things like, “I do feel bad for her, but really that’s no excuse to not do her work or ask me to do it.” Yes, yes it is. I’m not the world’s most soft hearted person, but even I can clearly see that her serious anxiety is a legitimate reason for asking for help. I’m getting all ragey now, sorry. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. I’ll leave now before I start throwing things. :)

  24. I want to hug you so tight, Asti! I knew much of your story from before, but my heart just broke all over again reading this, and especially your journal entries. Even though you felt lost, you were self-aware of the loss, and I think that’s an “advantage” (I’m not saying it makes things easy at all!) you had/have over some others who might suffer from depression. You truly are brave for sharing your story, even if it doesn’t feel that way. I know there are people who will be (and have been) touched by your story. <3

    • Oh yes, I have always been super-aware of things when it comes to mental health, and I do think that makes a difference. Not only with my coping, but with my ability to talk about it. Depression and other mental health issues have been a huge part of my family while growing up so it’s something I’ve always known about and have been wary of (even to the point that when I had this breakdown my parents said “Welcome to the family” – not the most appropriate thing, but I forgive them). So yeah, I do think that’s made a difference. I didn’t get sucked into it and had no idea. I knew what was happening and I knew when I was in it how bad it really was and how important it was to do something for it, so while it definitely wasn’t easy, it probably did put me in a better position than others find themselves in.

      Thanks Amy <3

      • It’s good your family had been so open in discussing mental health in the past, because some families where the struggle is there don’t necessarily talk about it. I hope I can convey to my future kids some day that if they ever feel so overwhelmed with those kinds of feelings, that they can talk about it with me and not feel ashamed.

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  27. There are so many things I love about you Asti. Your originality, your general awesomeness, your ability to have conversations about having baby lions or pondering what would happen to the world without “mind the gap” – but all in all, that is not all those things about you… that IS you!
    And that includes your ability to share such a touching, but deeply personal story. The fact that you are willing to share this about yourself, in hopes to raise awareness, or maybe help someone else, is absolutely amazing. It is possibly one of the strongest things a person could ever do – and I commend you, the past and the present you, for being so strong. You are awesome, and even though this is something that I don’t think ever goes away, you will not let it define you, you will be everything you want to be, and more!

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  29. Isn’t it shocking how something can be such a huge part of your life, and other people have no clue? I’m pretty open about it online, but most people in my real life have no clue that I struggle with depression.

  30. Pingback: Mental Health – Depression and Denial | Oh, the Books!

  31. What an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing, I know it must have been hard to write this and click post. But, it’s really inspiring and hopeful to see that you were able to work through your depression and come out the other side. Have I been depressed? In the last few months I would say yes, but I feel blogging is actually the one thing that is helping me because I can throw myself into it. But, I could tell I was getting worse because I couldn’t even concentrate on the blog, I just wanted to lay in bed and kind of do nothing. One day I realised I’d spent most of my day off in bed, staring at the wall. I feel like I am getting through the worst of it, I’m throwing myself back into blogging and trying to get myself scheduled at least a few weeks in advance. That’s my goal atm, and working towards it seems to be helping.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m so happy to see that you’re now working towards a new goal, have found someone you love and are now in the UK. I’m from London so I’m biased about the last bit, but still.

    • Thanks for the kind words! I hope you find yourself in a better place soon. It definitely doesn’t feel good to realize you’re just sort of wasting away sometimes, even if you can’t help. I think blogging is quite powerful and definitely has helped me as well. Even though sometimes it can be hard to have the energy to do it, it can bring so many positives – from friends and support to a feeling of accomplishment. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it I think.

      And haha, yeah, London is okay ;) I’ll accept your bias.

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  33. First of all Asti, that you for sharing this with us. I know how hard it could be to get down and personal. I think that it’s okay if you’re not okay. ♥ I’ve only had minor breakdowns. Last year was really shitty for me because everyone and everything just felt so disconnected to me. I felt like I had nothing real to hold on to, to love. And nothing to hold me back. The one thing that kept me up everyday was my blog. So it’s amazing that you have a creative outlet! For me, I just had to know that the only person that could make me okay is myself. I’m one of those really deep people who will throw random deep quotes at you every now and then. So I try to follow my own advice haha. :P I just remember to love myself, love others, hope, dream and live. You always have a decision in life. And the first step to being okay is to choose to be okay. Okay? Okay. Do you see the reference? Sorry for my lameness LOL But in all seriousness, just ♥

    • Haha, your lameness made me laugh, so it can’t be that bad! But thank you <3 I definitely agree that when it comes down to it it's really up to you to make yourself better, and I definitely try! It's hard, but I rather give it a go and make it work than get stuck in the rut that depression can lead to. And luckily blogging and the blogosphere is always there to give me that extra push <3 I'm glad it's helped you too!

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  35. Thank you so much for sharing this very heartfelt account. Though not personally having gone through it, you show us that it can just happen to everyone. Mental Health is still not talked about enough and is not thought about like a physical illness – no one would say just pull yourself together, be happy get a hobby and cancer will get better.
    I do walk a lot as well by the way, and I find it the perfect way to relax and just ponder my thoughts. Peggy @ The Pegster Reads

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading my post Peggy! I agree – mental health isn’t talked about enough. I’m glad I can sort of contribute to the conversation, and help those who also experience it feel less alone and those who haven’t understand a bit more. :)

      And yes! I feel like taking walks are underrated. But they make one feel so good! I love them :)

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  38. Thank you for sharing such a personal and difficult story. My breakdown was two years ago, during my first year of college. I felt intensely lonely and upset for no apparent reason – I had friends and I was doing pretty well in my classes. Nothing to worry about. At least, that’s what my roommates told me when I tried to talk to them about it.

    I figured out that I felt lonely even though I had “friends” because I was trying to tell them something and no one was really listening. “It’s all in your head. Just think positive,” they’d say. I was trying, but I didn’t feel any better and that made me feel worse about myself. Like you said, I didn’t feel like me anymore. In the end, I talked to a friend I’ve had for years who has also struggled with mental illness and she helped me stand up and feel better about myself. Years later, sometimes I still fall into the pit of loneliness, but I’ve found ways to deal with it. Books help, a lot.

    • I’m so happy that you were able to find one friend who could help you. There’s really nothing worse than when others don’t understand. But really, I guess if they haven’t ever experienced anything like it they wouldn’t understand. I always just laugh when they offer their simple cures for depression (“Think positive! Just shrug it off! Remember, it’ll always get better!”) because if it’s not like we don’t TRY to tell ourselves those things. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

      Depression is still a huge part of my life today. I don’t think I’ve learned the tools I need to manage it just yet. I don’t like as lost as I did before, but I sometimes feel more hopeless. I don’t think my current situation helps. But yes, it’s a constant battle I think. We definitely have to hold onto anything that helps. And obviously for you and myself, books is one of those things! :)

  39. I’m so happy you feel better, Asti. I have seen what depression does to people. It sucks their soul out. I’m happy you’re better, though. Your recovery is admirable. Sometimes, people don’t ever get out of depression.
    Your journals are definitely heartbreaking. I saw them and felt like I was gazing at a secret part of you.

    Thank you for this.

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