One of the hardest things I've had to figure out since being diagnosed with chronic depression five years ago is how to get through the rough times. I don't mean "rough times" as in times when I have five essays due, a midterm to cram for, job apps to submit, and a million other things to do. I mean "rough times" as in times when I cannot possibly get out of bed, let alone go to class or even feed myself properly. This is one of the hardest symptoms of depression for me.
I figured out a long time ago, though, that these periods of debilitating hopelessness pass with enough time. I used to liken it to drowning in the shallow end of the ocean: eventually the tide will go out and I will be able to touch my feet to the bottom and keep my head consistently above the water. The hard part is waiting for that time to pass. One thing I've found that can help distract me during these periods is doing art.
My favorite form of art is painting. I used to exclusively use acrylics, but I recently rediscovered the box of Crayola watercolors we have leftover from our elementary school years. Sometimes I illustrate quotes, especially if I've found one that's especially fitting to the place I'm in. Given that it's National Suicide Prevention Week, I chose to illustrate a quote that I find particularly inspiring in rough times.
This quote is from the TV show Game of Thrones, an unlikely source for such non-ableist inspiration. Whenever I am worried that I am "too much to handle" or that I am a burden on those around me, I think of this quote. When I look around, most of the people I know don't need to be treated like a child the way I often need when I am suffering the most. I may need more at times than someone who is mentally healthy, but that doesn't mean that I don't deserve the help I need. Hearing this sentiment for the first time at 20 years old was revolutionary, and encouraged me to continue to ask for the help necessary to keeping me alive and (mostly) well. I hope that you read these words or share them with someone who needs to hear them the way I needed to.
I didn't like the colors in my first draft, so I decided to do it again!
I believe that this sentiment is an important contribution to the discussion of mental health. If this or any of my other blog posts on National Suicide Prevention Week have touched you, please join me in engaging in dialogue about mental health tomorrow, September 10, for National Suicide Prevention Day. I will be drawing on my wrists and sharing my story and the stories of others on social media tomorrow, and encourage you to do the same in whatever way you feel comfortable.