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Dear Depression.

I laugh often because I know what it feels like to lose my voice. I choose to view life as a glass half full because I know what it feels like to have the glass taken. I listen wholeheartedly because I know what it feels like to be ignored. I say "I love you" any chance I get because I know that life is much shorter than we want it to be, & it can be taken at any given moment.

As often as I speak about struggling with depression, I still get nervous. It's not necessarily nerves because I'm sharing my story, but nerves because it's uncomfortable. Dealing with, having, experiencing depression is uncomfortable. It feels like a ton of bricks being placed across your chest until you lose your breath.

Like you're being pulled deeper into the ocean with weights around your ankles.

Like holding your head high will cause you to tumble over.

it's heavy.

it feels heavy.

& it's uncomfortable.

According to Google, Depression is "A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life." Did you know that there are several types of Depression?

Major Depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder.

Season Affective Disorder (SAD).

Psychotic Depression.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

'Situational' Depression.

Atypical Depression. name a few.

I won't pretend to know every detail about all the types, but I can tell you about the depression I struggle with, & more importantly, I can tell you how I continue to find my light.

The onset was third grade. I was 8. In true Chey fashion, I tear up talking about it because in true human fashion, I bury things that make me uncomfortable. But, talking about Depression needs to become comfortable...because we need to normalize conversations around Mental Health.

So, I was 8.

I used to draw hearts on notepad paper, coloring in a black hole right in the center. It was my way of saying, "I feel sad & empty," because I didn't know how to verbalize my feelings then. I mean, I was a child, & feeling that disconnected was terrifying. I experienced a pretty traumatizing event at 8 years old, which, according to the therapist, was "extremely triggering & a source for the way [I was] feeling."

& then I was 9.

& that year blurs in the background of memory because I don't remember if I was more smiles or tears.

& then I was 10.

& my life got flipped upside down again. Everything that was "normal" for me suddenly wasn't & what little control I thought I had, I didn't. My outlets like dance & piano seemed more like chores than fun. School made me cry. My friends couldn't make me laugh.

I felt alone in a room full of people that cared about me.

I know you've heard that before.

Because that's what my Depression felt like. It felt like isolation & like telling someone would make me a burden. Why would I want someone else to feel this sad, lonely, & anxious?

I truthfully don't remember several years between 10 & 14. I know that I experienced it again when I was in 7th grade. But after that, it blurs again & I gain consciousness of my familiar friend a month after my 14th birthday.

& that time, it hit hard.

Finding my light that I so greatly treasured was impossible, & I thought that the only way to not feel this bad was to not feel at all. If I couldn't "fix me" & "fix how I was thinking" & "fix how I felt" & "fix the thoughts in my head" then I was broken...& all broken things get thrown away.

that is my Depression.

it is ugly.

it is painful.

it is hurtful.

it. is. uncomfortable.

& damn it, it is hard sometimes to find the end of the tunnel when you've been in the dark for so long. but if there is one thing that I've learned from having it's company, it's that I am human & though it does not define me, it is a part of me & there's nothing wrong with that. We all have our battles & this happens to be mine. It took me having to be at my lowest of lows to understand that I still have purpose & that I am valuable.

I continue to find my light & push through the hard times by changing the soundtrack in my mind.

As happy & smiley as I am, Depression & I have had our fair share of dances. It's easy to look back & make light of it now, but when you're in the thickest of webs, it often feels like there is no way out...& it's terrifying. I am not a better person because I'm honest in talking about my struggles; everyone's road toward regaining happiness & comfortably in life is going to be different. But, my hope, as always, is that by speaking of my personal struggles, it allows others to feel that they have a safe space to speak, too. It's me reminding you that you're not alone in your fight & in your battle; I am here! I understand. No one should have to deal with Depression alone.

Be a listening ear. even if you can't empathize, you can at least sympathize. It costs nothing to

be kind.

Check in with your strong friends.

Check in with your loved ones.

Check in with yourself.

You matter. If no one else tells you today, let me tell you.

You matter.

Personal struggles and all, you are important.

You are not broken.

You are not defected.

You are human.

You are allowed to feel.

You are allowed to ask for help.

You are allowed to not be okay.

You are allowed to just be.

You are enough.

You will always be enough.

May your day be ever filled with love, light, and of course, an abundance of chicken tenders💜🌻✨

Cheyenne Pajardo

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