Written by Hannah Hensel, Blogger & Advocate
“Just…write something. Just do it, come on,” I say out loud to myself. I’m staring at a blank page, knowing that I haven’t written a single piece in months and months and months.
I’ve thought about it every single day, yet I find myself unable to get my ideas down on paper.
“What is going on with me?” I ask myself. I know that it isn’t writer’s block, because I can write without pause. I have all of the things I want to say at the ready.
I feel terribly stuck, and I know at that point that my depression has snuck up again.
Depression, for me, does not always present itself in an obvious way. I can feel perfectly happy, calm, and even make forward progress on things that depression previously held me back from. Sometimes depression takes on a much more subtle role— self-sabotage.
I started writing for Where I Stand while in an environment where I was constantly encouraged to grow, change, and challenge myself. Taking on a responsibility and commitment was a big deal for me, as a symptom of my own mental illness had been complete avoidance of both of those things. Writing pieces for the blog (my responsibility), played a huge part in repairing my self-esteem. I went from always saying, “Nothing I do will ever be good enough, so I might as well not try,” to “Look at what I made! Look at where I submitted it! I want to do this as much as I can!”
I had never been able to think like that before. It was an integral part of the healing process– to be able to actively challenge my cognitive distortions.
When my depression symptoms started coming back, at first I didn’t notice. When I did notice, it was an extremely hard decision to try to challenge it on my own. The questions I had to work through were tough, yet necessary.
Why was I ignoring my responsibility if it had been so beneficial for me? Should I feel guilty about neglecting to fulfill my commitment? If I already feel guilty about it, will I let that stop me from going back to my hobby later?
It took some time, but eventually I had the space and time to work through those questions. I needed the strength and clarity to realize that I can slip, and even more important: that I can go back to the things that I loved before a depressive period, hold my head high, and try again.
When facing life with a mental illness, it’s easy for me to feel like I should be able to function the same way as someone else might. One thing that has made it easier for me to do what I think I can’t do time and time again is the thought that everyone is different, and there is not one ‘right’ way to feel or behave. Today, I am adapting to my circumstances. I am sitting with my discomfort in writing. I am growing and persevering despite feeling nervous.
My name is Hannah and this is Where I Stand.