The days pass by and the voices inside my head seem to grow louder and louder. Is my advocacy really making a difference? Am I doing enough? Does anybody really care?
You read the title right. It wasn't a typo, and I didn't misspeak. This is a brief look into my life as an HIV advocate who battles anxiety and depression. I've spoken about mental health before, and while many times I speak from a "third-person perspective," today, I would like to speak from a "first-person perspective." That's right: Straight from the heart where the focus is now placed on my own life.
When I became an HIV advocate and decided to share my story with the world, I didn't realize how much my battle with mental health would affect my journey. Some days, I will have a list of things I want to get done only to become overwhelmed and in the end accomplish only one or none of them. It's frustrating; it's tiring. Especially when I know that the moment someone reaches out to me might be the moment they need me most, yet often, I don't have the energy even to reply.
Depression comes in cycles, and I do my best to combat it with exercise, daily positive affirmations, journaling and lots of prayer. But, sometimes, even that is not enough. Dozens of emails roll through my inbox on a daily basis. Many are from others living with HIV simply looking for support while others are from agencies and organizations seeking my participation in writing a blog or speaking at an event. I often find myself saying, "Yes," more often than not, and that's because my heart is there. But my depression doesn't always have the same plan.
As an advocate, it's easy to put on a front for a certain amount of time. It's simple to make it appear to the outside world that everything is OK when everything inside you screams to simply let your humanness show. But there is a tipping point: A point when one simply becomes numb to feeling. A point when reality sets in and one must remain vigilant and conscious of when and how bad the depression is affecting everyday life. Even for an extrovert like me, who speaks up for mental health awareness and wears my feelings on my sleeve, no one can truly know the depths of the depression I have reached except for God and me.
To read the complete article by Joshua Middleton visit TheBody.com, here.