Home > Life > #DayOfLight: Something wasn’t right.

#DayOfLight: Something wasn’t right.

This post is in alliance with the 2nd Annual #DayOfLight, a day organized by my friend, Brandi Riley, from the lifestyle blog, Mama Knows It All. Brandi started the #DayOfLight to build support and awareness for those affected by depression. Check out Brandi’s #DayOfLight story here.



“I feel that something is wrong with my mind.”

Strongly disagree. Disagree. Agree. Strongly Agree. On a scale of 1-5.

During my second year of grad school, I attended therapy at my school’s student counseling services for about six months. At the time, I felt completely out of control of my life. My family was kind of mess. My grandmom died. My academic and professional work kept punching me in the face with all my past loss, past helplessness, and past fear. I had panic attacks. I cried whenever I was waiting for the next train on the El platform, going from home to work, from work to school. I couldn’t sleep, but all I wanted to do was sleep. If someone asked me what was wrong, I wouldn’t have been able to open my mouth. I didn’t have an answer; I just knew something wasn’t right.

Each week when I checked in to my therapy appointment, I had to complete a depression assessment. This was not an easy little 10 question assessment. I think there were close to 40 questions. I’d step out of the elevator, push through the glass doors, and rush over to one of the computer kiosks to complete my pre-session assessment (I was always running late, I think unconsciously because I didn’t want to face that kiosk).

“I feel that something is wrong with my mind.”

The questions asked me about sleep, anger, sex drive, sadness, and interpersonal relationships. Most of the time, I felt  impatient as I clicked my one through fives, strongly disagreeing to strongly agreeing. I hated answering the same questions week after week. I loved my therapist that year. He was calm, empathetic and warm. He really helped me learn some great coping techniques that I continue to practice. That assessment though. I vividly recall how awful it made me feel, but I only remember one question:

“I feel that something is wrong with my mind.”

That question. That question. It always made me choke and fight terrified, angry tears. That question felt like a witch’s cruel, sharp, curved finger nail slowly stabbing me through the chest. I did think something was wrong with my mind. I did. I couldn’t understand why I always felt so sad, so anxious, and so out of control. I have a fantastic family. I have the most wonderful friends on the planet. I have had the privilege to travel and pursue my education. I have enough money. All my basic needs are met and then some. I should be happy. I should feel better than this.

There must be something wrong with my mind.

With time coupled with the patience of that amazing therapist, the five on my scale for that question eased into about a three. That was a big deal to me. During those six months, we focused a lot on acceptance–acceptance of my feelings, of my self-perceived failures, and of myself. He helped me see my strengths while reminding me that I don’t always have to be strong. Sometimes I’ll feel depressed. Sometimes I’ll feel like I can’t breath. But that’s all OK. That’s who I am in that moment. The most important lesson I learned was to ask for help. I can’t change everything on my own. When we’re depressed, we can’t imagine feeling any other way. We think we can’t change it. So we ask for help, and take small steps, and learn to accept those horrible times. We know the horrible times will always be there, but when we ask for help, we get the chance to feel something different.

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