Mental illnesses & those of us who suffer from them face so much stigma, so this was hard for me to write due to the vulnerability factor. I wasn’t sure if I had the strength enough even to touch down on the topic, as my own mental health has been quite poor as of late. With the recent passing of personal hero and inspiration, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, I decided I really should write this piece. As many, I was utterly shocked at the new’s of Anthony’s suicide; how could such a carefree, adventurous, wise and witty man of the world end it all? But unlike others, that question didn’t linger but for a moment before I just felt empty, sad and doomed. Depression is a never ending war, each day another tireless battle against the painfully familiar void. Anthony battled long and hard, but eventually lost his war.
That doesn’t make him a coward or anything less than the fantastic, give absolute no fucks, passionate chef we came to know him as in the spotlight. I felt empty and sad because as someone who has had (professionally) diagnosed major depressive disorder for over a decade, I know how hard the battles of depression can be, and how hard it is when you feel you are continuously losing them. Even when you are winning and surrounded by it all, the painful hollowness carves its way through and eats away. It saddens me so much to imagine how much inner pain he must’ve been facing.
I felt and still feel somewhat doomed after taking in Anthony’s passing because I realized how dangerous depression really is. We ourselves may know when it’s eating at us, but it can and generally is invisible to everyone else around us. I keep reading these posts on instagram, some about checking in with those you think may be depressed or who you haven’t seen in a while, others saying to reach out if you are depressed or need to talk. Neither is really a true solution; people are busy and even with those posts, how many people actually reached out to say ‘hey, you good?’ I was very fortunate to have the lovely #thcdoll @allidabwa from instagram message me to see if I was okay after I had posted in my instagram story about Anthony Bourdain’s passing, and I am still so grateful for that (thanks girl!).
Even when someone checks in and offers an ear, it still sometimes feels impossible to let your guard down from the constant battles, to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. And sometimes we don’t have anything to say; sometimes we just feel lost, unmotivated, numb, unfulfilled, stuck, overwhelmed or tired. Sometimes there is absolutely no reason for how we feel, and we can’t even put to words what we are going through. As reaching out, well read above! There are so many stigmas surrounding depression and other mental illnesses still out there that it’s so difficult to reach out for help with the fear of being judged or fluffed off.
Personally, I always feel like I am a burden on my friends and that nobody needs to be bothered by my ‘pointless’ mental illness when I am down. I know this isn’t true, but when depression has it’s cold, pulling grasp on your core you just get lost in your own psyche. It’s suddenly much easier to listen to the darkness that the mental illness creates and almost impossible to hear the rational, positive and healing thoughts you try to muster. Sometimes my brain just won’t stop, like a subway car going from bad memory to bad thought, to bad memory and again back to bad thought. I can be in the same room as my partner, lost and ‘spiralling’ as I have dubbed it; completely frozen and unable to even muster the words to explain what is going on with me.
When I get like this, what I’ve found really helps me lately is to write my feelings because it requires no communication that could lead to more negativity. I put them into my phone’s notes usually, and just pour out my current state of mind and feelings. I find actually getting those feelings and thoughts down into physical form, manifesting them beyond your own mind brings incredible relief. Beyond getting the inner thoughts out, I try to practice a lot of self care. I make sure to take my prescribed escitalopram & wellbutrin at the same time, daily. I smoke my prescribed cannabis to relieve any onsets of depression, anxiety and the aches and pains that come along with my mental state. I plan my days in order to get things done due to the lack of motivation and energy I often face. Even with my practices, I lose my battles a lot. It’s so discouraging but I fight on.
Why fight? I don’t want to give into my depression. Will I win the war? I don’t know, but I sure as hell am fighting to. I have mental illness but mental illness doesn’t have me! I fight each day I can muster the energy to, so I can get past those days and feel the peace and calm of the good days when they come. I won’t lie and say that the idea of decades of this fight doesn’t terrify me, because of course it does, but if I don’t fight, then how can I expect the ones that I love to fight who also have mental illness? I want to see a world where mental illness does not have such a dark stigma surrounding it; a world where we can get treatment for our mental illnesses as simply as we get treatment for a wound. We deserve to live freely.
To be honest, I wrote this intending for it to be about how to deal and live with depression using cannabis or something, but it took off into a personal piece on how Anthony Bourdain’s suicide sent me into some real introspection on my own mental health and the too familiar war each day to not succumb to the void of depression. Anthony isn’t less of a person for losing his war with depression. We don’t know how he truly felt inside, we don’t know his inner turmoils, therefore we cannot judge his decision to leave this world. He is finally at peace and free from the plights of mortal life. After writing and looking over all this honest spew on mental health, I just hope my personal diary has given some insight into depression and anxiety, and maybe even a little hope to someone suffering similarly.
Take care of yourself and keep fighting.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” ― Anthony Bourdain