Why I Fight

In today’s world, maintaining a healthy adult relationship can already be a challenge with the normal stressors of life like children, finances, and busy schedules; but what happens when you throw depression into the equation? Being a mom of four kids, a full-time college student, wife, sister and friend, can make most days incredibly hectic for anyone; however, when depression ensues and the darkness takes hold, regrettably all those roles are held hostage.  Days, weeks, and sometimes months pass by before anyone notices that I have progressively vanished behind the cloak of a plastic smile.  By the time the effects of depression become evidently noticeable to the outside world, it is too late; by that point I have already morphed into a reclusive stranger that family, friends, and even my spouse, can’t easily recognize.  Detached from reality and lost among the sea of racing thoughts, I try rescuing myself from the bleak and lonely pits of depression; but often the effects of battling this illness within me, leaves behind a noticeable trail of unfinished chores, abandoned responsibilities and broken relationships.
      Early in life, my mother diligently emphasized the importance of cleanliness; a critical life lesson I would take with me as I traveled through time into my adulthood. Eventually, my friends would endearingly label me with titles like “neat freak” and “germ-a-phobic.” Sarcastically, they would insist I was covertly harboring the inner makings of a slob monster, who was patiently waiting for its chance to escape from behind the stunningly white closet doors of my apartment. Unbeknownst to them, their playful banter wasn’t too far from the truth; except of course, that my menacing phantom has always been far too big to fit among the musky winter coats and dusty holiday decorations neatly stored away in the darkness. Unlike, the contents of my closet, I cannot predict the time or season, when my beast will choose to make his great escape; but when he does, I am left paralyzed unable to complete even the simplest chore. Since my early twenties, when depression crept in like a thief in the night, I have experienced these long stretches of disorderly filth, only further complicating my illness, because of the immense shame and embarrassment I inevitably feel from not being able to keep my life tidy and clean. It isn’t until the darkness begins to withdraw the unforgiving restraints used solely to hold me prisoner, that I am able to return to my normal household chores. Meanwhile, since the world around me always refuses to cease moving , I instinctively barricade myself inside the safety of my own dewelling locking everyone out for their protection and for mine; yet, am I not also caging myself in with the very monster that lurks in the shadows of the fallen moon? How safe can I really be locked away with the nightmare who's sole intent is to steal my last breath?
      After years of hiding and fighting for my life, just to be able to function normally like the rest of the world has left me tired and weakened. However, over the years of trial and error, I have concluded that if those who love us (the afflicted) can take a page from my husband play book and learn how to separate the illness from the person, then together we can lessen the sting left behind by this ill-fated disease. I can no longer seek refuge hiding among the same desolate shadows once cast over me in an attempt to rob me of my joy; now more than ever, I am encouraged to abandon outdated practices that stigmatize people like me, who also struggle with mental illness, and I hope that one day, I can be a beacon of hope for others who long to step out of the darkness, and into the colorful joys life has to offer all of us.

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