May is mental health awareness month.
As a writer, I have always been transparent about who I am. Not only do I write about love, and hope, I also write about darkness and demons.
I know quarantine has been a tough time for many of us. The uncertainty and not knowing what will happen next can be tough for your mental health. I’d be lying if I said that I have been okay through this whole thing. I’ve been productive for the most part, but I also had some bad moments and a few mental breakdowns here and there.
For a long time, my struggle with my mental illness was a private dialogue. In my culture, a mental illness is as real as the chupacabras or la llorona. I was taught since a young age that you have to be tough no matter what, and you can’t be weak—whatever life throws at you, you have to “aguantarte” (suck it up) and act like nothing is wrong. And for most of my life, I did just that. I hid my depression behind a mask. I never talked about it and I was too ashamed of showing my dark and vulnerable side.
I recently shared a post on Instagram about my struggle with depression and binge eating, and so many people reached out to me saying they would have never thought that someone like me suffered from depression. Someone “like me”? What does that even mean? I guess it’s because I am someone who is always happy and living her best life on social media. I am the person who tries to be a ray of fucking sunshine and send positivity out into the world. And I guess that is why some people are shocked when I tell them I have depression.
Yes, I am a happy person most days, but I also have some really dark and fucked up moments. I am not the kind of woman who pretends that my life is all sunshine and rainbows, because I also go through storms and cloudy days. I hid my depression so I could be “normal”. But you know what normal really is? Facing it. Normal is not what everyone sees on social media; it’s not the smiling faces or acting like you have it all together.
Normal is being completely honest about who you are. Normal is accepting your faults. Normal is sharing your raw emotions. Normal is admitting to yourself that you are not okay. And it is completely normal to not be normal. I realized that I will never be normal in the eyes of others, and I am okay with that. I will probably always be a fucking mess, but at least now, I am at peace with it.
I learned that a mental illness does not care who you are or what your life situation is. It will strike you when you least expect it, and it will keep you in the ground if you let it. Depression will hit me hard and may keep me on the ground momentary, but I will always get back up. Depression is a bitch, but I am a bigger bitch.
I share my story because we need to end the stigma about mental illnesses. Coping and living with a mental illness is fucking hard, but having a mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. I am no longer ashamed to tell my story. I am no longer afraid to say that I suffer from severe depression, and to me, this is one of the biggest achievements of my life.
I am not alone in this illness. I talk about my mental illness so I can feel less alone, and in return, I hope I can help others to feel less alone, too.