It wasn't until a few years ago that I cried in front of someone that wasn't my mom for the first time. Up until that point, I never let my emotions show. I never cried at school. I never cried at work. I never cried in front of my best friend.
I always thought that it would make me weak, so I suppressed it. I never showed any emotions other than happiness because I wanted to be strong. It wasn't until very recently that I learned that hiding my emotions was actually making me weak. Showing my emotions (including crying in front of others) showed true strength.
I have depression. Whenever I tell people that (which isn't often), people's responses is usually something along the lines of, "People who have depression are always the people I least expect it to be."
I've had depression since I was eleven years old. I never told anyone. I went through my days at school smiling and trying to be as positive as I could. That remains true today. I always see the good in people, I'm always handing out words of encouragement and I genuinely feel that life is absolutely beautiful. So people are confused when I tell them I've had depression nearly my entire life. How can someone be so happy and be depressed at the same time?
I think there's a huge misconception of what depression truly is. Depression isn't feeling sad. Everyone feels sad. Depression is about feeling nothing and wanting so desperately to feel everything. And because of desperately wanting to feel something, growing up I would often self-harm and have suicidal thoughts, because at least I felt some hate (even if it was towards myself).
This is why this group means so much to me. After struggling for so long of just wanting and allowing myself to feel emotions (whether good or bad), this group has given me the chance to let myself know that it's okay to embrace all emotions. I'm still working on it and some days are better than others, but I'm beginning to feel so many feelings again and it's such a beautiful thing.
As a result of my feelings and knowing that I have surrounded myself with a group of wonderfully supportive and beautiful people, I've even taken another step towards strength and have started to seek out help. Last year, I went on medication for the first time, which completely changed my life and brought me back to who I know I am. I also started going to therapy for PTSD for the first time. It was a huge step for me to take and an even bigger step for me to continue doing, but I know that allowing myself to accept help is the biggest feat of strength.
For far too long in my life, I've viewed my emotions as my weakness and as an obstacle that stands in my way. Now, I see that my emotions are my strength and they are my biggest weapon in fighting for the goodness of this world.