I'm fine.

This is not a happy post. If you're seeking unicorns and butterflies, look elsewhere.

My depression is silent. Most are unaware of its existence because I'm moderately functional on the surface, and I am foolishly proud of myself in that regard. If I can convince others that I'm ok, then I'll be ok. Right?

You have it together.
You know yourself so well.
You're so confident! 
You know what you want.

I've had the above and similar phrases spoken to me over the last decade, but let me tell you something...

They're a load of shit. 

Today, I came home to a bedroom that was in shambles. Empty pizza boxes, piles of clean and dirty laundry strewn about (don't ask me which were clean and which weren't; I've forgotten at this point), unwashed dishes, etc (the list ashamedly goes on), and it hit me all of the sudden that I haven't been taking care of myself or my surroundings.

It's a frustrating realization because earlier this year, I had been doing better. I was happy. But as so many of you who experience depression know, it creeps up on you gradually. You don't see it until you're laying in your bed surrounded by filth because you haven't had the energy or the motivation to clean for the last month or six. It leaves you feeling helpless, pathetic, and disgusting. And this negative self-talk only compounds upon your inability to be an adult and do the things that every normal human being of 30 years old should be doing on a daily or weekly basis.

You're ashamed when family or friends come to visit, because you know they'll judge you. So you hide. Your normally introverted tendencies explode into full hermit status, and, if left unchecked, this inevitably morphs into something akin to the absolute horror you see in tv shows like Hoarders. I say that partially tongue-in-cheek, but also partly deadly serious.

Eventually, those who know you well start to check in with you because they notice that they 1) haven't heard from you in a while, or 2) can tell that you're acting differently.

"Are you ok?" they ask.
"I'm fine," you lie. You may even crack a joke to throw them off the scent.

You don't lie to be hurtful or to ostracize yourself from them. In truth, you lie so as not to burden them. There's nothing they can do to help, so why dump your inexplicable listlessness on them?

To my friends and family, right now, in this moment, I am not fine. 

I'm not fine, but I will be. Please don't worry about me, and please trust that I know myself and how my mind and my body reacts to these downswings. You're welcome and encouraged to check in on me, but please don't be upset when I tell you that "I'm fine." If I'm really in a bad place, I promise you that I'll reach out for help.

On a positive note, I cleaned today. You can once again see the floor in my bedroom, I replaced the overhead light bulb that's been out for around 4 months, and I did a few loads of laundry. They're small steps, but they're invaluable to a chronic depressive's journey out of one of the numerous valleys and up one side of the many hills we face.

Peace.
Stef.

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