Cloudy Skies

I started experiencing symptoms of depression when I was 16. That first year was really really hard. I was self-harming and planning my suicide and I wasn’t letting myself eat or sleep. I didn’t tell my family or get help for over 8 months. Honestly the only reason I’m still alive is because I am an expert procrastinator. Every time I decided to do it, I just told myself I could always do it later. Eventually, later became never.

I am much better now. I haven’t self-harmed in months. I have a healthy relationship with food and sleep and although I still experience weeks that are as bad as my first 8 months, they never last as long. I got through it the first time, and I know I can get through those periods again.

The thing with depression, though, is that it is never gone. It’s like a cloud that follows you around. Some days its a thunderstorm cloud, and it pours you with rain and strikes you with lightening. These storms can last days or months or years.

Other days it’s just a fluffy white cloud. The fluffy clouds can also last days or months or years.

Either way it is always there, blocking the sun at least partially. You never go anywhere or feel anything without your cloud above you. 

I know that certain conditions will make my cloud darker. Social media, for example, can start to make my cloud get stormy. I have learned to delete my instagram and twitter and snapchat when I feel myself getting worse. It helps immensely.

Conversely, since moving to flagstaff, I have also had times where my clouds are fluffier than I’ve ever seen them. It’s a new and unfamiliar sensation. Anytime I am perfectly content I cannot help but to bask in that happiness. I take note of these times and I work to recreate them. I remember them during the stormy days and they help me not lose hope.

But during these happy experiences, my cloud is still there. I am celebrating the fact that it is white and fluffy and small enough to let some sunshine through, but I am still acutely aware of its existence.

My depression is always there. It can be hard to accept this, to look straight-on at the facts: that I live in a body that is incapable of letting me be happy. I have to help it along with medicine and healthy food and candles. It’s getting easier to manage every day, but I know from experience that it can come back and electrocute me anytime it wants, and I will have to start over.

This makes happy times bittersweet (because I know how fleeting the feeling is) and sad times easier (because I know the fluffy clouds can come back too).

Essentially, “I am both happy and sad and I am still trying to figure out how that could be” (Stephen Chibosky).

To those of you that struggle with depression: I see you, and I see your cloud, and I know that these supposedly opposite emotions are eternally intertwined. I see that your struggle is constant and I am cheering you on as you try to understand the complexity of your emotions.

I wish you the sunniest of skies and the fluffiest of clouds.

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