As the creator of the I Am More project, it may get lost sometimes that I’m on the same journey with the contributors. The day that I received Gianna’s essay and artwork was a low day for me. I listened to the song “You Will Be Found” from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” on a loop with the refrain, “You are not alone,” over and over just to get through the day. That night, with sleep and relief in sight, I checked my email and found a submission to I Am More. Gianna is a Gloucester High School student who is able to perfectly articulate the realities of depression, so much so that it was as if she had read my mind and sent me my thoughts. Thanks to Gianna, I knew in that moment I was not alone:
Although they say your teenage years are supposed to be the best years of your life, I have spent a majority of my days dancing within the depths of the darkness known as depression. I’d consider it a good enough day if I left my house, even though most days I couldn’t drag my shaky legs out into the dull world. I was constantly being pulled back by an unbreakable force, hindering my progress and leaving me craving nothing but the comfort of my empty bed. The list of things I had to accomplish seemed to just keep growing, making it nearly impossible to achieve anything.
It wasn’t just sadness that had me engulfed in a tight embrace, though. It was loneliness, hopelessness, and exhaustion that held my body hostage, too. After you’ve been running on empty for so long, you begin to give up on yourself. You begin to give up on your future and the people around you, leaving you with no hope.
I was so good at concealing the demons I was facing that I lost myself somewhere while I was drowning in a sea of loneliness. I didn’t want to let anyone see the darkness spreading throughout my veins. I lost all of my friends and I pushed away everyone whom I cared about. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I was afraid of being so fragile that all the dull thread holding me together would just come undone. I lost interest in the activities that once made my heart full of happiness. I felt like I melted into a different person from the inside out, not feeling like I was truly living. I felt like I was just existing, struggling to get by, wondering when I was going to drag myself out of the black hole of depression.
But, I am more my mistakes.
I am more than my illness.
I am more than the scars permanently lingering my body.
I am more than I allow myself to be.
I am learning how to live with my illness instead of letting it destroy me. I know that depression isn’t just going to go away overnight, but I can sure as hell fight back with all my might. I know that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit to be. I have seen so many dark days that I know no matter what, the day is going to turn to night and tomorrow will be a chance for redemption.
It’s not about getting out of this battle without any battle wounds because that’s not possible. It’s about accepting myself for who I am, flaws and downfalls included, and finally allowing myself to freely live the life I deserve to be living. It’s about not letting depression and everything that comes along with it define me. It’s about taking such a painful and messy experience and turning it into something beautiful and positive. It’s about finding a purpose, finding something to fill the hollow, empty void that has yet to be replenished.
Although every day is a constant battle with myself, this is not the end of my story. It is only just the beginning.
If you would like to share how you are more than your depression, grief, bipolar disorder, addiction, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorder or OCD please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Writing Guide.
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