I have experienced depression, anxiety, and occasional hypomanic symptoms to varying degrees, from practically non-existent to very severe, for much if not most of my life. My mood disorder (not otherwise specified) has inspired me to reach out to others – for support, to let other people with mood disorders know they are not alone in their experiences, and to give people who do not have a mood disorder an insider’s perspective of what it is like. I hope this blog will inspire honest, mutually-supportive, and informative discussion about illnesses that, sadly, are still stigmatized.
I am very fortunate in that I am engaged in therapy and have loved ones I can rely on. In times when I find it very hard to love myself, my love for my family and friends – and their love for me – is what keeps me alive.
Potential contributing factors for my mood disorder include:
- a family history of mental health issues passed from one generation to the next due biological, social, cultural, and economic factors
- deaths in my family (the earliest when I was about four years old)
- teasing and social isolation in school
- tension at home
- focusing on academic success at the expense of developing other important skills
- significant life transitions
- uncertainty about my career
- difficulty asserting my needs
- weakening of my social support system as old friends develop new, separate lives
- denial of my LGBTQ+ identities (and their stigma & erasure by society)
I do not mean to imply that these experiences are unique to me or that they automatically cause mood disorders or other mental illnesses in everyone who experiences them. I simply want to acknowledge that I have had them (and continue to have some of them), and that they contribute to an illness that interferes with my ability to live a satisfying and productive life.
But I am still here, and each day is a new opportunity. Each day is part of the process of recovery. A day to live. A day to potentially feel joy. And maybe even a day to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Please join me.