{“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there”}

It’s been months since I’ve been able to take a deep breath. With each breath my heart sinks a little bit further into my body and tears escape from my eyes. For years leading up to this, I was numb; I was unable to feel my depression. It snuck on me, pulled me in and I’ve been drowning ever since. I cannot smile, without feeling like a liar; I cannot think; I cannot focus; I cannot sleep — these past few months have been a single, never-ending blur. 

I’ve always put my own mental health on the back burner. I was taught it was wrong, shameful. It was so easy to pretend it didn’t exist, blaming flare ups, brain inflammation or situational anxiety but it’s real; it’s hard and it comes with an unfortunate stigma. I’ve found myself unknowingly caught in that stigma; it’s a vicious cycle. There’s no secret that chronic illness plays a major role on one’s mental health. Think of a healthy person, for example, a simple cold or stomach bug puts them in a bad mood (for lack of a better term); they get well and move on with their lives. There’s no moving on with chronic illness; it’s an every day burden somehow sneaking into every aspect of daily life. Anxiety comes with each sunrise, not knowing what the day will bring; and with each sunset comes night terrors, cold sweats and insomnia. Panic attacks begin with each new or worsening symptom. Each time I step foot into the hospital, PTSD kicks into high gear and I get lost inside myself. Medical professionals chose to see patients with anxiety or depression as psych cases, when in reality, it’s the medical complications that cause 90% of the anxiety.

Losing my inner light has caused the most awful pain. On one hand it’s less work to let the water take you, yet the drowning would be inevitable. On the other, being able to feel again is one step further away from drowning and for that I am grateful — spiteful, but grateful nonetheless. I fell in the water; now I’m learning how to swim. 


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