My name is Nikki, and I suffer from depression.
There. I said it. I've probably said it before but I am taking a good long look at myself and my health both from the physical and mental standpoints. Can't just fix the outer packaging if the inner engine parts aren't functioning where they should be. That includes the brain functions too.
My life hasn't been easy. In a lot of ways, it actually was fantastic. And, in others, it's been a shitshow. Do I care to share some of those bigger shit-showy moments from being a kid? No. Not particularly, because there is a total of 2 people who know what they are and that is because those two people also shared some awful things with me. Do I regret anything from being a kid? No. Because there are strengths that I have that came from the adversity those things brought. I think those things also made it so that I could climb over the mountains that were yet to come.
The first time the word depression was mentioned to me by a doctor was when my dad died. I was 20 years old and it was strongly suggested that I take an anti-depressant because I had just had a loss, not too long after a previous major loss and there were other things as well. I agreed and tried it. What happened next was awful. Well, that's a bad word used to describe it. I felt absolutely NOTHING. This is not how I wanted to feel. I was a writer, I needed to have emotions and feeling and be able to emote on paper. I couldn't even emote in life. So, I gave them up. I felt I was better dealing with things on my own. And, for the most part .... I was.
In 2012, I got sick. The regular kind of sick that everyone gets. Bad cold, sinus pressure, blah blah blah. It was a 'sinus infection'. Cool, never had one of those before. Well, it wasn't. What followed was 8 months of me trying to find out why this crap wasn't going away until I found myself in an emergency room being told I had pneumonia. Guess what? It wasn't pneumonia either. Long story short, I was diagnosed with cancer and an autoimmune thyroid disease almost simultaneously. Shortly after that, they added the Wegener's Granulomatosis cherry on top. Really? I lived a good life, I worked hard, I was kind and a good person and this kept happening. It felt like every time I went to the doctor, they had a new diagnosis for me.
I told my doctor in an appointment. "What's the fucking point?" She asked if I was suicidal. I said "absolutely not". Because, in everything that has gone on in my life, I have never once wanted to die. Never. I actually very much wanted to live and still do. So it was incredibly frustrating to feel like my body had a different plan.
She prescribed anti depressants again. Same story as before, it didn't. work. Not at all. I felt worse, not. Once again, I was feeling well enough to get through this darkness on my own. Because it wasn't always around. It would pop up every now and again, and then it would go away.
Recently, I took a class on Peer Support for First Responders (everyone who does a job like I do: EMTs, dispatchers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, etc). OK, i say recently when the class ended YESTERDAY. Anyway, while in that class, a lot of things came up for me while listening to people talk or videos, etc. I realized that ... yes, I do have depression. It's there. It might not always hang over me like a dark cloud, but it lingers back there in everything I do.
I am insecure as shit. I have things that happened in mylife that have taught me that my looks matter in people's opinion of me, that if I do nice things for people - they will like me. I am insecure in that I worry about what I said/did, etc in a day and if they were annoyed by me. I know that the first rule we try to teach people is that we shouldn't care what people think of us, we need to be happy with ourselves but, I struggle with that probably every single day.
Some days, I am super proud of myself. I am happy with how far I have come from being sick and sitting on my ass to doing CrossFit and actually doing a competition next month for CrossFit. I did the Open which I never thought I would do. So I know I can do things. I have moments of pride in what I've accomplished ... but more often than not, they are overshadowed by my fear that I am not doing good enough. I am not enough as I am and I need to be better.
Do I want to try medications? No. I don't. Because when I do my workouts regularly, I am in and incredibly good place. Not only am I setting goals for myself and smashing them, but I am around a group of people that don't make me think about work, are willing to listen if I want to talk about work, but are completely unaffiliated with my job whatsoever. They are supportive and kind, and I feel like I have something that is 100% not connected to work that makes me happy.
Anyway, the purpose of this blog was for me to put it out there. I have depression. I do. I may have not openly admitted it before and maybe I have and can't remember. I just don't think I have ever embraced it like this before and accepted it as part of who I am. I know that I have anxiety. That's quite clear with m y worry about what people think, my worry about all the things outside my control that plague me. But, I am telling the world I have depression. It's OK. A lot of people have things they are struggling with mentally.
It's OK to not be OK. Let's get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health struggles. Being embarrassed certainly doesn't help people going through it and honestly, there probably isn't a single person walking this earth right now who doesn't have SOMETHING they are dealing with in their life that they may not want to share with anyone else.
I am really going to try and check back in daily because I feel like I need to hold myself accountable. I want to get back to my 3-4x a week CrossFit. I want to be tackling my nutrition head on, and I want to be physically healthy as well as mentally healthy and I know there are some other changes that have to occur for that last one to take place. Baby steps, no?
I hope you will join me in embracing everyone who has their own private struggles and letting them know they aren't alone. Because if you're talking to me, you aren't alone ... because I am right there with you. I just may not want to show it all the time.