This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to write – and I write for a living! It’s taken me a long time to understand who I am, and I’m still in the process of acceptance. I’m not the Bubbly Girl at the party, I’m not the Easy Going Girl, and I’m not the Light Hearted Girl. I’m not the Cool Girl [I’m with you, Gone Girl].
I was the Weepy Kid in primary school, the Awkward Girl in high school, the Emotionally Messy Girl in my second toxic relationship by the time I was in college. I was the one at the party who needed a few drinks to come to life and some weed for equilibrium.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalised anxiety as a teenager. For the majority of my life these conditions have followed me, as inevitable as my own shadow. But in triumphant moments they serve as a testament to my strength, and I’m flooded with victory. Every day I survive is victorious. When you have depression weighing you down like an anchor in your pocket, you learn to really appreciate the moments of joy.
People have tried to fix me. I was evaluated by high school youth workers, cognitive behavioural therapists, counsellors, hypnotherapists, osteopaths for the unexplained aches and pains that come with perpetual emotional distress. People told me I needed to find God. Doctors have looked at me through exasperated eyes as they begged me to try and take antidepressants just one more time. I could blame who I am on life factors, sure. But if I’m honest – from my earliest living memory – everything has always felt a bit too intense. You know?
Do you feel everything deeply? Words, actions, a flicker of the eye, a dismissive comment, an energy in a room. When I fall in love I feel it so intensely, so deeply, that I become overbearing – I’m guilty of being codependent, high maintenance. I feel like the rose in Beauty and the Beast, living on the brink of falling apart. Lovers have tried to ‘fix’ me too; tried to make me softer, calmer, happy go lucky. It’s just not who I am. Poetry like Warsan Shire’s describe it best.
I did try to be all those girls I mentioned – the Bubbly Girl, the Cool Girl, etc. It was a fruitless battle. I understand now that all I have to do is protect my energy, instead of trying to make myself fit in with people who don’t appreciate what I bring to the table. Because I bring a lot to the table. Experiencing what feels like everlasting mental angst gives you empathy, a sixth sense, wisdom, a certain resilience. You’ve made it through your worst day and you’re reading this, right now. We have to celebrate.
At the end of the day, I am in love with who I am. I just have so much to give, it scares me. My soul feels too large for my body sometimes and the intensity of that overwhelms me. But emotions needn’t be scary, or shameful. Humans are capable of magic. We just have to learn to navigate the thoughts that get in the way of unlocking it.
Maryam’s tips if you are struggling to cope:
Do have a chat with your doctor – they can help you come up with a coping plan.
Call the Samaritans (116 123) if you need to talk to someone – I promise they aren’t scary!
Try meditation if possible (I like the app Headspace).
Be kind to yourself and monitor your thoughts. Ask yourself, would you speak to someone you love the way you speak to yourself?
Keep a journal if you can – it helps when processing your emotions.
Drink plenty of water; eat as well as you can. This is important – gut health is directly linked to mental health.
No pressure, but do get active as much as you can! Exercise releases the ‘happy hormone’ (endorphins) into the body.