Healing is not linear

My mental health journey


Graphic by Canva

Erielle Ocampo, Opinion Editor

In retrospect, a whole year doesn’t seem like very long. It’s only a mere sliver in our lifetime. But with just one change in normalcy, your whole life seems like it’s rapidly changing.

It’s been a crazy year, from dealing with a new “normal” in this up and down post COVID world to dealing with the hardships of adolescence. And yet after all of this the hardest thing I had to go through was my battle with my anxiety and depression. 

It’s hard trying to put how I felt into words. Because nothing can really explain how tough it is to pull yourself out of this whole. Imagine it’s late at night, you’re alone in an empty parking lot, with your only source of light being one street lamp. And as time is moving obscurely fast, you can’t help but to just sit there, in the dark. That’s what everyday felt like to me. My days were filled with doctor visits, therapy sessions, and adjusting to new medication, and even after all these life changing events, I came out of it barely remembering anything. I think it was just the way the brain works when it goes through something traumatic. It wants to protect you, keep you safe, hold you tight. It pushes those unfavorable memories away so you’re able to replace it with cheerful ones. 

A year ago, I was having an internal conflict with myself. I wanted so bad to just be happy. I kept telling myself, “it’s just because the seasons are changing.. It’s normal.” But as I kept making more and more excuses with myself, I knew that I had to be the one to start the dominoes. And so that was what I did. I pushed that domino and my life was never the same again.

I wish someone told me then that these illnesses didn’t define me. I was not my depression and I was not my anxiety, they were just additions to the list of what made me, me. I was so hard on myself for months because I was constantly being brought back to where I started. I was embarrassed of my illness, I was scared of how it would affect others, how it would somehow make it harder to be loved. I was worried about how it would affect others rather than how it was affecting me. Mental health and the whole aspect of it was really hard for me to understand at first. A diagnosis made it real and that scared me. Even to this day, I have a hard time really understanding that these illnesses don’t go away, you just learn how to make it better for yourself.  

This didn’t come without setbacks however. There were times throughout the year where I was back to where I started. Some weeks I would be fine and happy and the others I would feel the opposite. It was a constant rollercoaster and eventually I understood that this was how it’s supposed to be. The healing process is not linear. It’s messy and sometimes painful but it brought me to where I am today.

 For anyone who is struggling with depression or any mental illness, you are loved. You are more than what this illness says of you. You can overcome it and find beauty in living again. There are people around you who love you for everything you bring to the world and having these illnesses shouldn’t change that. Getting help and reaching out to someone you trust is not weak.