“I am not my sensitivity”

Hit rewind. Pause. It is senior year of high school, and I find myself feeling very odd and different. Clothes start feeling loose all over and hanging out with people is not that fun anymore. Finding myself in my room a lot and crying in the middle of normal conversations has become a trend in my life. Grades lower, and I find applying to college an unbearable task. I had always been a sensitive and reserved person, but this was different. My emotions are out of control, and I don’t know what it is…

After a visit to a psychologist and psychiatrist, I find that I have depression. I start taking pills on a daily basis and going to therapy. Fast forward. Pause. After two months, things seem clearer.

Depression hit me all of a sudden. According to my doctors, my brain “shut itself off” for a bit because it could not handle some stressors that emerged in my life. It was not easy: every day I struggled with people asking me why I had lost so much weight or why I cried so much. I blamed it on my sensitivity. I found it unbearable to lose those 15 pounds in a month and see myself as a frail corpse in the mirror. I found it hard to be so vulnerable to my feelings and emotions. I cried every day in front of my boyfriend for no reason. It was so hard to be so sensitive: every comment and obstacle hit me hard, and I would easily break down. I was hopeless, disconnected from my passions and dreams, and insecure. People had to push me to give the best of me, and I was an unnecessary weight to my family and friends.

Having depression was a burden. My parents had to invest a lot of money on doctors, therapy, and medicine. Instead of paying extracurriculars for my sisters, my parents would use their money on my pills. My depression became a family secret too: “Why did Michelle lose so much weight?” people would ask. Because of the bad stigma mental illnesses have back home, we blamed my condition on antibiotics I had taken. Going back in time, I also blame my vulnerability and sensitivity for tearing my romantic relationship apart.

It’s been two years now, and I have recovered. Although I still take medication and I am considerably happier, I still struggle with knowing which of my emotions are driven by depression or driven by my natural self. Is my depression over, or am I naturally a sensitive person? Do I have to draw a line?

I wish I could have an honest reply when people ask me if I’m sad or if I’m okay. I know depression is a part of me, but I’ve learned to acknowledge that depression does not rein my personality, hopes, and dreams. Depression affects my emotions and mood, but it is not the decisive one in these matters. I know I am a fully functional person with aspirations, and depression cannot take that away from me. I am not my depression, nor the sensitivity that has come with it.