When Mara of I Run This Mind and I connected about me guest-writing a post for I Run This Mind, I wanted to talk about the design that was recently accepted by cottonbureau.com, a design-centric t-shirt company that works on a pre-order system. When enough people preorder a particular shirt, Cotton Bureau will take it to print and consumers can buy as many as they want. The design I submitted is based on the idea of courage.
There’s a reason why I’m so honored to be featured on I Run This Mind. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. I have been prescribed a plethora of meds, spoken with a number of therapists on and off, and at my worst, attempted to take my own life back when I was in my twenties. I’m 32 now. Back then, I never wanted any kind of help. I didn’t want to take my meds, talk to doctors, or hear from anyone how much they loved me or wanted me to get better. I felt like a failure. I felt betrayed by my own belief system and I was angry. I felt exhausted. In a way that only certain people can understand, it felt good to feel bad—like drinking a 2-liter bottle of diesel soda when you’ve been on a strict diet for months. I didn’t care how bad it was, and I actually wanted it to get worse. I was cutting myself for months and at the height of it, decided to slit my left wrist. But I didn’t even get that right, so I went to a friend’s dorm and she helped me through the rest of the night.
After telling my family everything a few days later, I saw over time what it was doing to them. My not wanting to live crushed them. Meds and therapists helped get my mind right, but for me it was shear will to drag myself out of the muck I found myself in because my family was hurting. In time, I decided to get better for me, too. I realized that to straighten out, you really have to try every day. When people with addictions to alcohol go for weeks without a drop, then trip up and have one, the slope gets slippery quick. I couldn’t let myself go down certain paths in my mind for the same reasons. Occasionally, I did at first—it was hard not to. Remember that scene in The Neverending Story when Atrayu and his horse Artax are trudging through the Swamp of Sadness? That’s what it felt like, except I was constantly trying to figure out who I was: the horse who gave into the sadness, or the young warrior determined to get out of it. I care more about my life now, and I’ve accepted the fact that my depression is just a part of my personality. For me, accepting that but not allowing myself to get too comfortable with it takes courage—which is why I designed the COURAGE piece for Practice Daily. Some days more than others, I do feel like I’m going to battle with myself. You get banged up. You’re left with scars. But in the end, you’re fighting because you want to win.
I had an Uncle who struggled far worse with depression in his life than I ever did. It wasn’t but a few days ago that on Tuesday, May 12th, my dad called to tell me that my Uncle Gregg took his own life and was found in his apartment. You couldn’t have met a kinder, more gentle and thoughtful man. That same day, my COURAGE design went live on Cotton Bureau’s website and more than doubled the minimum of sales for it to go to print. The t-shirt will be available for purchase for a little over a week. When it’s done, I’ll be donating what proceeds I receive to mental health facilities in his honor.
I’m so grateful for all the of the love and support I’ve received over the years from family and friends, and to have found a new friend in Mara, whose blog reminds me why we fight and to champion those who can’t.
Lean on those who love you and know that people care. Stay strong. Have courage. Practice daily.