A while ago ago, I received a message on Instagram from a follower asking me if I ever suffered from depression. The question took me a bit by surprise and to be completely honest, I thought it was going to be a sales pitch of some sort (it’s a terrible first thought, but as an Instagram blogger, sometimes we get the weirdest, most random messages). I responded saying yes, I had suffered from depression at one point in my life.
This follower and I then had a pretty interesting conversation that kind of opened my eyes to the reality that my page probably made it seem like I am a happy-go-lucky Christina at all times, when that is far from the truth. I have good days and bad, just like everyone else. But most of you wouldn’t know that because I post pictures of that 5% slice of my life that is stylized, curated, and filtered.
The first time I knew I was suffering from depression (I was never diagnosed, but I now see all of the signs), I was probably about 16 and a Sophomore in high school. I was being bullied every day because of my weight. I lived in terror whenever I had to walk the hallways because I knew someone would throw some sort of insult my way. I started getting bullied almost daily since sixth grade, so after five years of trying to ignore the names and put on a strong front, I was falling apart. I thought I was disgusting, ugly, stupid for ever thinking I was worth anything.
I remember one instance, being in my English class and just putting my head down on the desk in my arms and sobbing. I could not hold in my pain anymore. One of my friends was in the desk next to me and he asked if I was okay. Embarrassed, I shrugged him off, wiped my tears and asked the teacher if I could go to the restroom. He said yes and I bolted out with the intention of calling my mom and going home.
Today, I think back and I am grateful that the thought of ending my life never entered my mind. Maybe I was too innocent in my way of thinking. Or maybe I still had hope. I’m not sure.
Later that year, I was offered the opportunity by a student ambassador program to go to Europe. For the first time in a long time, I had something positive in my life to look forward to and not dread. I remember being on a Greek Island with sand in my hair and between my toes as the stars reflected so beautifully on the Mediterranean sea realizing that there was so much world beyond my little high school bubble. Those people in my bubble that wasted their energy trying to knock me down were just not worth it. And I can guarantee you, they will never learn to appreciate life the way I do because I don’t throw things by the wayside or label people based solely on their appearance.
When I got back home, I was ready to start my last two years of high school, with a newfound confidence and the memories of my trip that I could revert to whenever I had a not-so-great day. And those days happened. One day, I was running for the position of Secretary of the California Scholarship Federation and I had to give a speech in front of at least 60 peers. In the middle of my speech, someone in the hallway stuck their head into the room just to make a comment about my weight. I continued my speech seamlessly because I knew this opportunity was bigger than that person's malicious intention (and yes, I won by a landslide, so that guy can eat my dust).
Another time, while on my way to my Graphic Design class, I was violently pushed into the wall by a large Senior boy. It kinda ruined my day, but once I sat in class, I realized that guy probably had a lot more issues than I did, so I ended up feeling bad for him instead. Maybe he was suffering from a form of depression that was causing him to be insecure and violent. Who knows.
These are just a few of the incidents I experienced, and they should have taken a toll on me. I believe that if I had not learned about my love of discovering new places and ideas through travel, I would have sunken so far into my depression, I can’t say for sure where I would be now.
Now, I’m not saying, “Take a trip to Italy and it’ll make your life better!” No. I’m saying, step out of your bubble, just once. Try something new or pursue something you love. If you love baking, whip up a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try out, or take a cake decorating class. If your dream really is something that requires some more effort, like taking a road trip cross-country, start brainstorming where you would go, what kind of food you’d eat along the way. Gather a bunch of magazines and start cutting out images to build a collage as your inspiration. Start talking about your passions with the people around you and spread the light of positivity, even if it's just a smidge.
My point is, do something different, something that brings you excitement when you think about it. I know whenever I think about visiting a new museum or taking new photos for the blog, I can manage the stress at work a little bit better, or get through traffic without experiencing as much road rage as I normally would.
I hope this blog post provides some insight into my experience. I think it’s important to have an open dialogue about common issues like depression because when we’re suffering through it, we feel like we’re alone and no one knows what we’re having to deal with. But when you talk to people, you realize, we can learn from one another and gain new perspectives.
I don’t want this to be the only time I talk about Mental Health on my blog, so please, feel free to share your thoughts and your experiences with me. I’m always a DM or email away! And of course, I won't ever share any personal information on here or social media without consent.
You can also find resources to help you work on your Mental Health like Mental Health America's page: https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/finding-help-when-get-it-and-where-go
You can also make a direct donation here: https://donate.nami.org/give/197406/#!/donation/checkout
Sending you all a big virtual bear hug! Thank you for reading!
-The B of V