It has been ten years since your first dose of an anti-depressant made you curl up and fall asleep on the floor of an elevator. Ten years since months of deep depression drove you into the hospital, where you were the youngest patient on the psych ward. Ten years since you cried all the way home from college two hours away, and your boyfriend let you blow your nose on his sleeve. You have suffered through a decade of mental illness.
It has been ten long years, and all along, the memories remain, of a length of time so tinged with sadness that it is almost unbearable to think about. You flash back to these moments while you are inside of new sad moments, which you are later reminded of in further sad moments—an infinite loop of memory and pain.
Since then, you have packed your bag for the hospital a second time, and a third time, just in case. You have had to prove yourself, and to save yourself. You have had to explain yourself, and to apologize. You have lived life with two faces: the one the world sees, and the one that no one wants to see. That one, you fear, is the real you.
While everything around you has changed, including your own perspective, there is one fundamental truth: you still have a mental illness. There is no escaping it. You have tried this medication and that one, this schedule, or habit, or behavior, and that. You have gone for long periods of time feeling good, even “normal.” But you always come crashing back down, so far that you barely make it out alive.
You have also made new friends, worked different jobs—some good and some bad, adopted beloved pets, fallen in love, and gotten married. It is true: you have lived. But for one third of your life, you have been followed around by a dark cloud, which was beginning to form even before that.
It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since that moment in the elevator. And you have many more to go.
Because, after a decade, you are still so young.