Behind Emma's Mind

     I was going to say that my mental health journey started four years ago, but in reality, it's been going on for my whole life. I experienced anxiety, depression, and ADHD long before I had the words or the understanding to know what was happening. Depression is the most prominent and debilitating of my mental illnesses, but all three of them are there and show themselves in different ways at different times.  
My depression looks different from a lot of people's. It's rare that I get so depressed that absolutely nothing helps me feel like myself, and it comes in short episodes rather than the slow, consistent progression more common in major depressive disorder. These facts prevented me from getting treatment for a long time. I could tell that something wasn't right, but every time I Googled the symptoms of depression, they didn't quite seem to fit. I minimized my experience because I didn't fit the standard definition of what a depressed person looks like. I thought that the things that were hard for me were equally hard for everyone, and I was just bad at coping with them.
Fast forward four years since I started exploring treatment, and there have been some big shifts. I've changed therapists and psychiatrists multiple times in search of the right fit. I've tried seven different medications. I've taken extended leave from work twice, and I've participated in an intensive outpatient treatment program. I understand my brain a lot better, but there's still a lot to learn.
If you're in it right now with your mental health, what I want to say is don't give up on yourself and don't stop trying to find the right treatment for you. Help is out there, and while it's exhausting and discouraging and time consuming to try and fail and try again, little by little things can start to get better. There will still be hard days, but more and more you'll know what to do when they come. Just remember, it's okay to not be okay sometimes.


Emma S.

Oakland, California

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