I Chugged Green Juice and I'm Still Depressed

Who else has heard that if you just tell yourself you're going to be happy today, you'll have a good day? Or if you eat healthy and exercise your depression will be cured? Or if you just drink more water or go outside or do yoga everything will be ok again? Or adopt an emotional support animal? Who else has done all of the above and felt exactly the same?

I have. I started lifting, running, and yoga, changed my eating habits, stopped drinking, ended an unhealthy relationship, and got a puppy. I was still frustratingly, deeply depressed.

Lilo, Brussels Griffon, 1 y/o

To an extent, becoming a healthy person changed a lot for me and made me feel better in certain aspects of my life such as my confidence, sleep, and overall bodily functioning. I'd always recommend becoming a healthier individual physically because it will make a difference and will be beneficial for the longevity of your life, but that doesn't mean it'll fix everything for everyone. I could be the physically healthiest person in the room but still the most mentally unhealthy at the same time, and I was. 

My anxiety and depression caused emotional and physical symptoms. On multiple occasions, my body swelled up and held over 15lbs of water in my face and body because of my anxiety, so much so that I ended up in the hospital. I was binge eating multiple times a week until I could barely move or sleep then starving myself the rest of the week, only to repeat the process again. I skipped classes, avoided social situations, ignored calls and texts, engaged in self-harming behaviors, allowed others to mistreat me, and repeatedly told myself I wasn't worth it.

Anxiety and depression are real chemical imbalances in the brain. Anyone can have them with no say in whether or not they do - just like no one can choose if they have the flu or cancer. Anxiety and depression don’t discriminate based on who the person is, what they look like, or their lifestyle. They don’t go away with a pat on the back, a "just cheer up", or a comment that “someone like you” couldn’t possibly be depressed. It’s not a result. It’s an illness. They are most often genetically predisposed.

By Brendan Bannister | www.brendanbannister.com

Mid summer of 2016 I finally went to a psychiatrist the first time to seek out medication to help me with my anxiety, depression, and binge eating. And for the first time after 7 years of symptoms, I didn’t feel stupid or invalidated for the things I was feeling or the physical symptoms I was having. For the first time, I didn’t blame myself or feel guilty for how I was feeling physically or mentally. He explained how all my symptoms meshed together and could be explained and I finally didn’t feel like I caused this or I put this on myself. It wasn't my fault. 

Society needs to stop saying that only some people could be depressed or struggle with mental illness. It encourages the idea that "some have it worse" and thus discourages others from actively asking for help. Yeah, someone might have it worse, but it doesn't make your struggles invalid or unworthy of treatment. Society needs to stop saying that anyone who is brave enough to talk about it is only seeking pity. It discourages others to talk about it in fear of people seeing them as attention-seeking. People need to stop acting like only a certain kind of person, whether that be by looks, social class, wealth, environment, or race, could have a mental disorder. It’s like this ridiculous idea that only some people “earn” mental illness because of their life situation rather than seeing these illnesses as serious, real disorders that need treatment for anyone who has them. 

It is not your fault, no matter who you are or what you've been through. You have every right to treatment no matter how mild or major your symptoms are. You didn't choose to have a mental illness and you are so much more than your diagnosis. You deserve to recover and learn to live with this part of who you are but not let it define you.