Sad Girl Summer: Ranking My Depressive Episodes


The fun thing about lockdown is it gives you a lot of time to ponder. And, about almost two months in, when I found myself googling, “does corona make you depressed” and “living alone with mental illness during lockdown”, I knew it was going to be a fun summer. Not that this is my first rodeo with depressive episodes—far from it—and, luckily, my self-care routines aren’t the absolute worst and I’m back to radical honesty when it comes to my mental health. This meant when my mom asked how I was doing on any given day I was liable to say, “Not great” or “All right.” It’s an old code which basically stands for CODE BLACK: LA DÉPRESSION.

And because I was full of pondering, bored, and sad, I decided to rank the major depressive episodes of my life—a totally valuable use of time.

#4. Summertime Sadness 2020

(To be fair, this could extend beyond the summer, but for now…) In last place, and most recently, we have this past summer. While a good number of my triggers came from the world at large and the pandemic at hand, some were internal as I tried to work through trauma and had quite a few flashbacks because I was trapped inside all the time and lonely. Sure, I spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch, my apartment teetered on the edge of chaos, and I fell back on some unhealthy habits. I even had one night of suicidal ideation. But! Despite all this, I found bits and pieces of joy in the world and things I loved to keep me going, forced myself to maintain some self-care routines that made me feel human, and stayed in contact with loved ones who kept me sane.

#3. Moving Out is Hard to Do 2015

You know how they tell you change can be an “adjustment”? Sure seems like moving out of my parents in 2014, in hindsight, kicked my ass hard. I spent a lot of that winter mentally reeling from a Less-than-Stellar roommate and then I spiraled that spring between depression and anxiety as my grades tanked and I holed up in a bedroom that I was almost scared to leave. I went for long drives to clear my mind and angry walks around Wal-Mart. I once cleaned a bathroom at one in the morning. Lots of passive aggressive whiteboard notes. I barely had the energy to leave my bed, shower often, or cook proper meals. And, yet, somehow, I got engaged despite my disorders being a “con” of dating me. Side Note: Get you a partner who doesn’t hold your mental health against you. A good partner deals with the lows; a great one accepts who you are, disorders and all.

#2. Teenagers Scare the Living Shit Out of Me

I’m just going to lump the ages of 13-18 here. They weren’t all bad years or bad moments, but they were hard and, at times, I wasn’t sure if I would make it to where I am today. I had plenty of suicidal ideation in my head and half-hearted attempts throughout those years in various ways. I hurt myself and lied about where the scars came from. When everything became too much, I’d go for long walks or runs around my neighborhood with my iPod, sometimes even when it was raining (sometimes especially when it was raining). One of my old coping methods was listing every person who meant something to me. In my junior year, I went to cognitive behavior therapy in the mornings; the upsides were that I often missed my first class, and my mom took me through the McDonald’s drive-thru for breakfast burritos after. Occasionally, I’d take mental health days off from school because I needed a break from whatever was bothering me. On one of those days in senior year, I put together a bed from Ikea, which was apparently what I needed to do to feel better. By the end of high school, I wasn’t afraid to be more open about my issues, and the school’s literary magazine published a poem about my struggle.

#1. The Worst Year Ever: 2018

What? You thought this year was going to beat that one? Oh honey. No, nothing yet has topped the absolute shitstorm of misery that was 2018. Remember how anxious I was with the less-than-stellar roommate? Multiple that by ten. Remember how depressed I was as a teenager? Multiple that by at least three and subtract the suicidal ideation. Remember how depressed I’ve been since being stuck inside for five months? Imagine eight months with those other disorders added on and a lot of loneliness because my ex worked away from home frequently. I spent almost nine months of my life trapped in a hundred square feet of anxiety and depression, in a toxic relationship, grieving the loss of my grandparents before I moved out. And even then I was still stressed with school, that same relationship, and loss. That year scarred me.

So, yeah, winner, winner chicken dinner.

The thing about having a diagnosed mood disorder that’s chronic is the awareness it will, inevitably, come back. Of course, this makes the highs all the more sweeter. I know on the days I don’t have any energy that there will be better ones where I’ll crush my goals and the sun will shine and everything will be great. And on those good days all I can do is appreciate the moment. Sometimes that’s all you have.