On Depression and Identity

Fatou Balde
Jul 31, 2018 · 2 min read
Illustration by Moonassi

Something I used to do frequently was stare at myself in the mirror. I would bury my eyes into my reflection, trying to see who or what was there. Sometimes I would lean in, pressing my nose against the glass and ask: “Who the fuck are you?”

I suspected I was depressed at the age of 12. By 16, I was a full-blown mess. I skipped school, I self-harmed and I regularly fought with my parents. At 17, I graduated high school and eventually dropped out of university because of my depression. I began to spiral, barely leaving my bedroom and crying everyday.

When I looked in the mirror, I saw a loser, a pathetic girl with no future and two swollen eyes. Some days, I would open the cabinet before brushing my teeth so the mirror would face the wall. I didn’t want to see it or myself. When I looked in the mirror, I just saw my depression.

It was only two years later, in late April of 2018, that I would finally receive treatment that helped me — inpatient treatment, a day hospital program and an anti-depression that proved to be a lot more effective.

Now, three months later, I finally feel like myself again.

And I finally have to start living my life.

I spent my teenage years depressed — growing up with the idea that my future was non-existent, making important decisions using my volatile feelings and dropping everything that made me feel pleasure. I grew older but really, I didn’t develop. Time just passed while my mental health worsened.

I gave up . After years of seeing my psychiatrist and trying new medications, I accepted that it couldn’t get better. But it did. And while I’m grateful to finally feel like a person, to finally be able to function and live and breathe… I also have to figure my shit out.

Now, I have to sit down and ask myself: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I like? What do I want to try? What are my dreams? What are my goals?

Now, I have to do the work: I have to wake up before noon, take my medications and resist the urge to go back to bed. I have to go out everyday if I can and try not to isolate myself. I have to reach out to people and fill my days with activities. I have to dedicate every day of my life to feeling better.

When I look in the mirror, I’m okay. I don’t feel the need to ask myself the question I always used to ask. I’m a girl in recovery, a work in progress — I’m growing. I still don’t know who the fuck I am but I’m growing.

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

Fatou Balde

Written by

Communications student and writer. Check out my portfolio at www.fatoubbalde.com

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

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