The Realities of this Disease

Worth Living Ambassador Jessie Fawcett

Hello, my name is Jessie and I’m a student attending Ryerson University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I am dedicated to being able to work in a juvenile detention centre in order to help aid youths who are struggling with their own lives. Mental health has always had a huge impact on my life and I’m finally starting to be able to share my story in hopes to help others who are also struggling with the same issues as well as shedding some light onto mental health.

The Realities of this Disease

You know, I often think to myself that I seem to be doing better and that complete recovery is possible. Unfortunately, I have once again found myself in a situation where the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer. I know they always say to look on the bright side and that things will get better and to be positive. Sadly, it isn’t always quite clear to see when darkness overwhelms every aspect of your life.

There aren’t many people out there who truly understand the severity of this disease, depression I mean. And that is exactly what it is, a disease. There is an extreme misconception construing that depression is simply a personality flaw or people that tend to be more sensitive. I can assure you otherwise. Personality traits reflect a person’s characteristics of their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. This is where the confusion comes in implying that depression is merely someone who is sad fairly frequently. Depression is a disease because it manifests in the way that it can literally take over a person’s life. It is so strong, in fact, that depending on the severity, it usually has a detrimental impact on a person’s day-to-day life. I for one can confirm this for you.

Every day is a constant battle. I am required to fight myself from the moment I awake in the morning until the second I fall asleep at night; and even then, it can continue to manifest itself into my subconscious by causing me to have frequent nightmares. I wake up exhausted and need to fight myself to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to work and to my classes. Then I fight myself throughout the day to eat. I fight myself on small details of the day such as thinking my coworkers hate me and that I am alone fighting this battle. I go home after work and fight myself to go out and do stuff instead of sitting in my room sleeping. I fight myself against the constant and excruciatingly agonizing thoughts that circulate my mind over and over again until I finally fall asleep. I don’t believe that a personality flaw is capable of causing so much constant torment.

Depression doesn’t only show itself through exhaustion or hunger, or lack of it. You can’t always see it through someone’s loss of interest or impulesivity. To be entirely truthful, you can’t always see it; and I don’t only mean that for the bystander. Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere and knocks the wind right out of you. It will suddenly just collapse on top of you like a bag of bricks. It will stare at you dead in the face then jump out at you, shattering every bone in your body with both fear and pain. Not only is the weight of the world on your shoulders but your bones are so broken that you feel as though you have nothing left to support yourself.

It hit me from out of nowhere.

It was a normal Thursday night. I was sitting in my room listening to music. I was fine. And then it was like a light switch was flipped. I got a sudden urge of sadness engulf me. With every breath I took, the despair just kept growing stronger and stronger. I was sobbing. I felt alone. I felt hopeless and that there was no point to keep on trying, that there was no point to keep on breathing. The thoughts that filled my head were dangerous to say the least. As the risk of danger kept increasing, the more frightened I became. I knew that if I didn’t act quickly that something bad was going to happen. I’m still unsure as to what triggered me. And so, I texted my friend explaining that I needed her to come to me because something was severely wrong. She arrived within ten minutes and brought me to her vehicle and started driving. I thought she was bringing me to the hospital and was going to have me forcibly admitted. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. We just kept driving and she made me explain to her what was going on through my head. But I had no idea what was going on in my head. My thoughts were going a million miles an hour. I made her pull over because I felt so unwell that I thought I would vomit. I didn’t want to live anymore and she knew that’s what I was trying to say. She tried her best to convince me of how much potential I have and how I could save other people’s lives in the future with my career choice. I didn’t see the relevance. I believed that there are thousands of other students out there learning the same things who can do it just as well if not better. She tried convincing me that that thought was completely wrong and that I matter but I was still blinded. She didn’t know what else to say. I was broken, I was devastated, I was confused, and I was angry. But so was she, angry. She wasn’t angry with me, she was angry with my disease. And that’s what she told me. She told me that I need to learn how to fight this disease in order to help others who are battling with it as well. She tried to convince me that I am not the problem, my disease is. She kept repeating how it’s the disease and not me. I think that is what stuck with me the most.

I have little control over the way my mind works. With a lot of hard work and the proper therapy, I can gain that control back. But the loss of control was a result of my disease. She is one of very few people helping me learn that. It is extremely touching because this person does not understand what it is like to live with this disease and yet still fights for me anyway and tries to learn how to deal with it,  both for her sake as well as mine.

So, what is the point of this post? Well, I really wanted to provide some strong messages regarding this disease. I keep on repeating this term because I need for more and more people to fully comprehend that this in fact is a DISEASE and is not a choice, it is not attention seeking, and it is most certainly not a personality defect. It can come from out of nowhere and hit you from behind. It can blindside you. It will attempt to suffocate you with all of its power and it will…if you let it. There is absolutely nothing easy about fighting this illness. I am still trying to figure out how to continue to do so. I am still trying to figure out how to keep living when my illness tries to convince me that there is no reason to.

I can’t give you a reason to keep fighting, to keep breathing, to keep living. But if there are people out there who are truly trying to show you your importance, then there must be a reason. Why would someone lie about such a thing? Find something beautiful to keep you going, to help you get out of bed in the morning.

I understand how letting people in and getting to know you is outstandingly terrifying and nearly impossible for some people, at least for me it is. But think of it this way: if you leave yourself open, you have more of a chance of getting hit and getting hurt. But if you leave yourself closed off, then you’re preventing yourself from feeling that you’re still alive. At least by feeling something you know that you’re still here, breathing, and surviving

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One reply on “The Realities of this Disease

  • Nancy

    I admire your will to keep fighting and growing even when this desease tries to take you down. It’s so important that you recognize that you must keep working at this in order to lead your full, happy life. You are so courageous and inspiring. I have been reading “Feeling Good” by David Burns and am really impressed by cognitive behavioural therapy. It is such an active approach to living with depression. Do you study this in your program?


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