When most college coeds were dropping it like it was hot at parties, hanging out until the wee hours of the morning, testing the limits of adulthood, and enjoying life without parental responsibility, I was being ravaged by the Beast of Depression. Although I hid it well and tried to exceed the normal quota of red cup socials, I was experiencing my own secret hell that kept me awake at night crying and wishing to go home and lie in my bed forever. In 1994 the subject of depression was still taboo and no one understood the agony I was struggling to survive. My mom chalked it up to me being homesick, but according to her “quitting” school was not an option. So, I continued playing the game of contentment. I had become and expert at being the great pretender.
Days, weeks, and months passed and things seemed to grow worse until a much-needed Christmas break approached the horizon. Who knew this little break would be my opportunity to discover a small piece to a much larger puzzle. I spent my Christmas break with my mother in Detroit. As soon as I stepped off the plane to greet her, my mother knew there was something wrong. My skin was scaly, my once long thick hair was thinning, my spirit was broken, and I was no longer the bright-eyed vibrant girl she drove through the historic gates of Tougaloo college and left to mature into a productive member of society. After witnessing my shocking transformation my mother scheduled an appointment for a physical. After the break was over, I settled back into school and tried to maintain the best I could until one day my life changed forever. Frantic, my mother called me and told my test results indicated I had something called “Graves Disease.” Graves Disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. As you take this journey with me, you will learn just how Graves Disease ravages the soul. I wasn’t too shaken until my mother said the magic words, “it causes depression.” My heart sank to my feet as my only thought was, “so, I’m not crazy, there is actually something wrong with me.” I was excited because I thought, yay! This thing I have can be treated, I won’t have depression anymore and I can live a normal life. Ha, no! That only happens in the books that begin with “once upon a time.”
So, here I am twenty-four years later still trying to tame the depression beast and it’s friends, anxiety, memory loss, ADHD, and whatever else crawls up in my brain and screws with my wiring. For me, depression has a color, sometimes when it is what I consider mild and I have the strength to run on and see what the day will bring my depression is the color blue. Although, not vibrant like the sky, but just plain old uneventful blue. When the beast has it claws out and grips my soul like a Boa Constrictors contraction, my depression is black like the color of night. Whatever the color, I have armed myself with my Jedi sword and prepare for battle until I am victorious, yet again.
In Episode 1 of “The Blue Pen Project” I share the beginning of battle with the depression beast.