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How Are You, Really?

Kyleigh Leist

Marketing Director

person seeing light at the end of the tunnel

“How are you?” is such a normal conversation starter that you ask your friend, a stranger, a coworker, or someone you just met.

This question for me, is always answered with an automated response being a lie.

“I’m great, how are you?” – lie

“I’m fine, how are you?” – lie

I feel like this question is such a generic question we ask people without really wanting to hear the true answer. Or answering it with actual truth. Even if I responded with, “I feel numb, blah, depressed, emotionless”, that answer wouldn't be what people were expecting, yet it's so accurate. It’s almost more of a burden to go into details about my feelings when it's something I feel every second of every day, it's not easy to express it - it's exhausting.

Imagine everyone actually expressing how they candidly are feeling when asked that question. Would we still ask the question? Would we state our truth? Would we as humans be okay with truthfully acknowledging how we are actually feeling? Think about that for a moment.

Well, here it is-

“How am I?”

I don’t think I’ve ever been “okay” or “good” or even “fine”. I honestly feel like I have just been going through the motions. The motions of life. The motions of my job. The motions of my relationship. Friendships. Everything. I don’t think I have ever truly realized how bad my depression has been for years now. My depression can make me feel nothing at all - or everything all at once. It's so easy for me to cry in the shower, wipe my face and go out and socialize, be high functioning at work, be there for other people, then come back and scream in my pillow and cry myself to sleep and then wake up the next morning and act like nothing ever happened. That's a mental illness. That's depression.

Even though my depression does a fantastic job of not letting me forget that I have it, I guess I haven't ever taken time to realize how bad it truly is internally - because you can rarely ever tell externally. Depression doesn't show up as a bruise or a scratch, it's an internal demon that makes you feel full of everything and empty of it all at the same exact time.

How do I not even realize it if I live it everyday? That's how terrifying depression actually is. Even the person that lives with it every day doesn't realize it. It's the invisible disease. It's the demon that is engulfing your thoughts, emotions, and body all at once. I have gotten so damn good at masking how I constantly feel - pushing my depression to the side. I’ve been a pretty damn good actor my whole life. It almost actually feels “normal” now and less “crazy” from my previous years of my stages I've felt in my depression. Sure, I have hopeful moments, I have great days, I laugh so hard I cry, I go out and even dance now, and I smile big and get compliments on it. All of that is temporary for me, though. It’s something my depression has taught me to do - 'fake it til I make it.'

I don't know if I could ever get to the point where I truly can express my thoughts without the person listening, worrying or thinking I'm unstable.

It's simply just easier to say that I am fine instead of actually exhausting myself by trying to explain how far from 'fine' I truly am. Explaining how I am not fine is more exhausting than actually not being fine. It's also just so incredibly hard trying to explain to someone how you're feeling when you can't even justify or understand it yourself.

My depression has taken that from me. It has taken my potential happy thoughts I could have had and pushed them so far out of reach that I don't even know what those could be anymore. And that's on me. Me and my depression only. We're a package deal.

I think, though, that the best thing I have done for my mental illness is that I finally stopped apologizing to myself or anyone else for it. I learned to be gentle with myself and that I can’t apologize for something a chemical imbalance has given me - something I was born with.

My depression is so far from situational. I can't just go work out, eat right, go in the sun, watch my Lakers play, read, or enjoy a girl's night out and poof, depression is gone. That's not how it works for me. It might help you, but it doesn't help me. And that's okay.

I refuse to apologize to anyone for something that has hurt me the majority of my life. That has taken over my life. That is with me 24/7. I have accepted my depression... finally. However, I have had a hard time accepting that I am the person I need the most. I’ve become so used to having depression that I feel like that’s what I need the most. Sounds weird, right? Why would I want depression? Why would I be dependent on my disease? I have always wondered what I would be like without depression. Would I be the same, chill, quiet, introvert person? Would I be more outgoing? Would people even notice? Regardless of when I do not want to be around myself - I need those moments. I need those dark moments. Those “not okay” moments. I’ve been so used to it that I wouldn’t know what a non-depressed life would be like.

There isn't a day that I don't try to understand my depression more. There's not a day where I don't try to justify to myself that I need to be here. That I don't fight for my life. There's not a time anymore that I actually listen to my depressive thoughts and want to give up. Yet, I still need them. Daily, I constantly wonder if my depression will beat me in this thing we called life, or if I will beat it. Depression is weird. It takes my purpose for life away but it also gives me a sense of purpose all at the same time.

I am no longer afraid of telling the world who I truly am. I am tired of constantly reaching for my disguise. Telling the world I am okay when I am not will not help, it only prolongs the pain. I will eventually make beauty from this crippling pain. I'll continue to remind myself that it gets better and I will not let my depression bully me into not rising above this mental illness.

So... that's how I truly am.

And I know others feel this way too. You're not alone.


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