I am widely known for my past experiences with mental health. Since the age of 15, I have been very outspoken about what I’ve been through, what I’ve been diagnosed with, what medications I’ve taken, what works, and what doesn’t. Everyone knows that with the help of my parents and a large support team I’ve gone through hell and back, survived and become an advocate for youth like myself who don’t feel like they have a voice. I have been told that I’m one of the lucky ones, brave, and most often, strong. These days, I feel anything but.
For the last year and a half, I’ve been battling a severe bout of depression, striving to remain resilient, but slowly sinking back into the all too familiar pit of despair that I’ve grown to hate- and woops! I’ve forgotten my ladder, so climbing right back out isn’t an option. I’ve been trying to claw my way up the hard way but without much success.
It’s not hard to discern when or why I became depressed this time around. One of my biggest supports and best friends was my father and he died unexpectedly in April 2011. Following his death, it seemed like everything fell apart- my family, my structure, my life, my sanity. For the first time in my life, I became a caretaker, as my disabled mother became my responsibilty, and I had little-if any- support in taking care of her. My boyfriend and I moved into an apartment with her in an unsafe neighborhood where we endured a lot of family drama, multiple break-ins, and all the while, I tried to find healthy ways to mourn the loss of my father. It was impossible because I found that I was so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that I forgot to take care of myself too.
For me, this lapse back into depression feels like a slap in the face, especially remembering how hard I worked to get out if it in the first place. I have to remind myself often that sometimes this does happen, and that I can’t beat myself up over it, but that’s hard to do when I get mad at myself for staying in my pajamas all day, wrapped up in a blanket and refusing to leave the house. I know I can’t live in my bed forever, and it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to find the motivation to function again, so I’ll continue to live day to day, one step at a time.
Chandra Watts is our guest blogger. She is a young adult who draws on her own life to change how the world sees mental illness. She is one of the founding members of Youth MOVE Massachusetts.