Trigger Warning: Mentions depression

I’ve always been very close to my family. Most people might even argue I’m too close to them and I had no life outside of them. They wouldn’t be wrong exactly. I spent most of my childhood with no friends and little interest in being around other people. My parents and siblings were right there if I needed anything, and that was fine. 

But then I grew up, and I drifted away from my family a bit. It started when I got on involved in fandoms on the web and grew I went into university. My family wasn’t always who I turned into with my problems. I gained hobbies outside of them and found interests that they don’t know about, and I never cared to explain to them in any detail. Simply put, I got a life that extended outside of the tight-knit circle of my parents and siblings.

And all of that is normal. Coupled with the fact that I was always very insistent on being independent, this was inevitable. No one questioned it as long as I wasn’t going out late at night, and that wasn’t an issue, given that my entire social life existed purely on the internet. 

Then the pandemic hit. I was now truly stuck inside at all times, and I had no excuse ever to get out. And first, I thought it would be fine. I’ve always been a homebody and an introvert. Nothing had changed. If anything, I found myself feeling more comfortable around my family and their constant presence helped me remain relatively chill about things. But soon, it became apparent that I could never truly bridge the gap I created.

In 2018, I began realizing that my mental health wasn’t in a great place. It started when an online friend reached out because she was concerned I had depression. When I talked to my family, they just didn’t understand, so I decided to fix it myself and deal with things. It wasn’t until the following year that I hit a wall mentally. I sought help from my school’s therapy and counseling program and began working on depression and other general mental health concerns.

But I never told my family any of this. It’s been three years now that I’ve been lying to the most important people in my life about my mental health. And the longer the pandemic dragged on, the more I had to hide my appointments and schedule them strategically to line up with my school schedule to get privacy, the less I felt comfortable telling them anything. I got closer to my family, but my mental health was taking a step back. 

I became too reliant on support from my family. And that was expected a little bit with how difficult things were in the world, but I found myself falling apart in some attempt to keep the act up. It became much more frequent for me to spend late nights up just to have a moment for myself. I tossed myself into spending time with my family because it was one of the few activities that gave me joy. But it came at the cost of my school work and extracurriculars. 

I hit a breaking point somewhere in March and slipped quickly into an awful depressive episode. Then I started suddenly snapping at my mother all the time. I blamed her for wanting to spend time and cling to me when my school work was at its busiest. But the truth was that I never set up those boundaries. Until that point, I gave in at every opportunity and assured everyone that it was okay; I was managing. I wasn’t handling anything.

And I know that if I tried talking to them and explaining things that would help immensely. But this past year has also shown me that they aren’t ready for this conversation. Every time it’s come up that a family friend has been feeling down, my parents react with confusion instead of compassion. When I started breaking down, my mother tried her best to be there for me, but nothing I said seemed to make sense to her. They believe that one can pray away their problems, and my father is in denial of his own recent depressive episodes. I could maybe tell my siblings, but they are terrible liars, and doing that would mean setting up a confrontation with my parents in the end.

And if I’m being honest, I’m not ready to speak the words aloud. I’m not ready to let anyone know the full extent of the thought in my head and the struggle of the past few years. The memory of how my parents freaked out that one time I tried to talk to them about getting a proper diagnosis remains with me. They mean well, but they don’t want to think there’s anything “wrong” with me, they don’t want to think they failed me.

And for now, it’s alright. They aren’t dumb, they have lived with me my whole life, and they probably know something is up. They’re trying to help however they can, and I’m coming to terms with the idea of setting up my own boundaries properly without feeling guilty. If not putting a label on it is working for now, then I don’t think I want to change it yet. Maybe one day, I will open up and finally rid myself of the sinking pit in my stomach whenever I lie. But until that day, I’ll just have to make do by trying to slowly work on myself and hoping they understand that I still love them even when I’m taking time away from them.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, check out the resources below:

* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.

* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.

* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.

* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.

7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors.

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  • Neha Merchant

    Neha Merchant is a cake decorator and content creator who is currently studying Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto. She's passionate about social justice and equality for all and spends her free time indulging in anime and mobage fandoms.

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