Lyme, empathy, and trying to only leave the first behind.

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When you compare Lyme Disease to non-terminal cancer it makes people uncomfortable, because most people don’t realize how intense and disabling the symptoms of Lyme Disease are. It’s understandable, but that doesn’t change the fact that Lyme is that terrible of an illness. It put me through so much pain I would lay in the tub for thirty minutes before working up the energy to bathe myself while sitting. It was agonizing, it dropped me head first into depression. It was life altering, in a terrible way that makes you a better person much later on, once the worst is over and you can see the light.

I’ve been depressed before. I’ve been depressed more times than would be considered normal, because I also have bipolar disorder and depression just kind of comes with it. But this was a different kind of depression that I had never known.

Every time I’ve spiraled down it’s given me empathy when I emerge. I feel for people struggling with their mental health because I can at least start to understand it having struggled myself. Lyme’s gave me empathy for people struggling with their physical health, something I hadn’t really known to this level. It helped me understand the pain of others. How broken certain systems are. And it got me eye to eye, face to face, with a whole different level of suffering.

It’s not something I want to forget, though it was terrible, though I never want to have to feel anything like it again, it’s not something I want to forget. I want to keep this deep empathy. I want to stay alert to peoples suffering. And I want to do all of this while also allowing myself to move on once I get completely better.

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Depression, why you should talk about it:

In the eighth grade, I tried to kill myself. I was bullied to the point I believed them when they said I was a waste of life. There’s no nice way to say that. I say it casually now, because it’s made me so much stronger and I’ve a hundred percent accepted it for what it was, a terrible trial, that had to happen in order for me to grow. I’m not afraid to talk about it, and I don’t think we should be. We live in a culture that doesn’t want to talk about depression, we want to give people the answer they are looking for, we want to avoid the long talks.

How are you? Fine.

We always say fine, even if we are crumbling, even if we are falling apart and don’t know how to stop it. We don’t want to bother people, we don’t think we have reasons to be sad. The internet world (tumblr, per-say) are trying to take this by storm. They’re trying to revolutionize the way the world looks at depression. The problem is they’re trying to diagnose people with depression. They’re trying to set a normal and not normal scale to happy and sadness, and it doesn’t work like that. Everyone is different, and everyone who is sad is not depressed.

Having said that, they do have one thing right, and that that we shouldn’t live in fear of “bothering people” with our emotions, we shouldn’t hide them in a corner and never show them. You shouldn’t say “I shouldn’t feel this way” because guess what, whether or not you should you do, and that means something. There are big problems with hiding emotions, and here are the biggest one:

Nobody can help you if they don't know you are struggling.

Had I not told my mother I was depressed I’d be dead at this very moment. I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this empire, this great thing that I have created of myself wouldn’t even exist had I not asked for help. Realize will you, that I hid the fact that I was depressed and being bullied for three whole years. I didn’t want to bother people and I was ashamed.

Which is more important, I ask you: your life or your pride. Your life. Your life. Your life. You can’t have pride if you aren’t alive, and the people who you wished not to bother, they will be more bothered by your death than by your depression. Even if you feel like nobody will notice, you should know that you’re lying to yourself. Everyone has something. You know how when someone dies everyone says “she deserved so much more” or “she will be missed so much” or “she meant so much to this community” or “the family will never be the same”. You hear it every time someone dies, and that includes those who end their own life. After I told people about my attempt their first response was “thank God you didn’t, you’re such a great, talented, beautiful person who deserves the world, and I don’t know what I’d do if I’d lost you.” and my first response when they said that used to be nothing, but now it’s “I know.”

And if your depression doesn’t end in suicide?

You’re left with a big dark secret that is liable to haunt you and return. It’s been proven that most people who have been depressed to the point of being suicidal will be quicker to turn to that option if ever depressed again. So its important that we let people know, so they can help you notice the signs if it ever stops coming back. It’s important to let people know so that they can make you do what helped you last time even if you feel like it won’t this time.