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JENNA'S STORY • DEPRESSION + BIPOLAR

JENNA'S STORY

Bre Hanks

 

Through life’s struggles, I have learned to truly love others.

“Everyone has a story or a struggle that will break your heart. And, if we’re really paying attention, most people have a story that will bring us to our knees.” Brené Brown

My story has allowed me to pay attention—really pay attention—to others and theirs. and let me tell you...I am brought to my knees every. Single. Time.

I have battled the depths of depression for 18 years. Combined with other diagnoses over the years of ADD, PMDD, anxiety, bipolar II, and autoimmune/thyroid/hormonal imbalances, that battle has begun to be less metaphorical and more literal as I often fight to simply function from day to day. Life is overwhelming. I spend a good portion of it in bed, where I feel safe, and where I can attempt to sleep away the chronic fatigue that makes my mind, heart, and body leaden and heavy. Sometimes the darkness comes and goes quickly. Other times, it sticks around way longer than I give it permission to.

It never gets easier...I just get stronger. I learn to cope and manage. Then I fall. It hurts, and I feel defeated...again. So I start over. I swim against the current and work tirelessly to stay afloat, until I have the strength to rise again. And that’s the way my mental health ebbs and flows. It’s chronic; I’ve accepted that, but I’m learning to not allow it to define me.

As dark as my story may seem, I wouldn’t change it, because when it comes down to it, [and if I’m being honest, sometimes it’s way, way down] I’m grateful for the struggles I have. They have allowed me to learn and practice the only thing I believe matters in this entire world: LOVE.

Feeling the hopelessness I have felt [and still feel sometimes] allows me to feel empathy for others and their stories, relate to those suffering with similar things, and view others as truly doing the best they can. I know I sure am. I see others and recognize that we are ALL facing battles. None of us are exempt. My heart feels the weight of that, and when I’m REALLY paying attention to others’ stories, I’m able to genuinely love them so deeply it hurts.

We are all the same; We want to be accepted, validated, and loved. We are wired for connection. Yet sometimes those things get lost in the darkness of trials and we need others’ help to find them. My story has allowed me to offer that love, acceptance, and validation to others. I can only imagine the strength that will come as we continue to face the weight of the world together... after all, “we are all just walking each other home.”

LOVE, kindness, and empathy are the only things that matter.

-Jenna



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