It got to a point where I let my iPhone die on a Friday night and didn't recharge it until Sunday.
Over the past several months, it was easy to justify why I'd been tired, antisocial, and melancholy. I blamed it on a hectic work schedule or family obligations to anyone who questioned my sullen behavior.
But the truth was: I was depressed.
I had doubts at my career choices and at the same time, my love life was in the sh*tter. Despite rewriting my online dating profile, changing my greeting message, and editing my photos, my inbox remained empty.
Trying to advance my career while trying to also work on my life outside of work was taking a toll, leading me to retreat from the world.
At first, I began needing quiet time after a long day at the office, but that quickly turned into requiring solitude every single day — even when I didn't have work. Going to bed at 9 PM on a Monday after a stressful day morphed into going to bed at 8 PM, then 7 PM.
Gradually, I began to dodge mirrors. Simply getting myself to get ready for work and socializing became a burden. I blew off my friends daily, with excuses ranging from "I need to save money" to just making stuff up entirely. Soon it became easier to ignore the phone since took effort to create an excuse to avoid plans.
It got to a point where I let my iPhone die on a Friday night and didn't recharge it until Sunday night before work. It allowed me a whole weekend of solace from the pressure of socializing.
Having been down the road of depression before, I recognized that all the signs were staring me in the face. When I was in the grasp of a deep depression during my junior year of college, the same avoidance behaviors and self-deprecating feelings were present.
The previous summer, I'd gone three months without therapy and only relied on my parents' advice which was to ''shake it off" and "get a hold of yourself." That was their way of surviving difficult times and how they taught me to cope.
Throughout my childhood, my mom suffered an array of health issues that forced me to mature sooner than my peers. The fear of putting added stress on my parents meant I internalized my problems and activated "survival mode."
While my mom was recuperating from open heart surgery and my dad was adjusting to a new role of caregiver, I felt selfish for making a big deal out of my feelings.
It wasn't too challenging to keep my depression to myself.
Even though internally I was a hot mess, on the outside my appearance was the same. Each day I went to work, cracked jokes with my colleagues, and met my deadlines. When absolutely necessary, I showed up to birthday parties and family dinners with a smile on my face. On the flip side, I went months without showing.
On Christmas Day 2013, the metaphorical depression cauldron exploded.
My sadness became debilitating, making it impossible for me to attend Christmas dinner. The idea of getting dressed, applying makeup, and putting on a pretend act for an entire afternoon paralyzed me.
I spent the afternoon crying in a dark apartment.
Despite my mind being clouded, I knew this behavior wasn't normal. Perhaps the greatest gift I received that Christmas Day was the realization that something was seriously wrong.
Reluctantly, I scheduled an appointment with my primary doctor and within hours he'd prescribed me additional medication.
As I returned to my apartment the next day, my crying ceased but my gut told me the additional pill wouldn't be the magic cure. I had to make some serious life changes, the first being honesty.
I had to learn to ask for help. Doing so was going to be unpleasant and awkward, but my last bout of depression taught me that recovery is messy.
Learning alternate ways of dealing with my sh*t sucked — but it was neccessary.
I scheduled an appointment with my therapist and told her how difficult daily life had become for me. She agreed that being off my meds wasn't the sole reason for the depression onset and that we'd have to backtrack to figure out how exactly I arrived at this point.
She then asked why I didn't call her when I was at my breaking point on New Year's Eve. I told her that I didn't want to ruin her holiday with my drama. That statement alone spoke wonders about what I needed to work on in the weeks ahead — I had a hard time reaching out to others and putting myself first.
Fast forward to present day.
I'm committed to attending therapy sessions religiously and seeing a psychiatrist to get my antidepressant medication re-examined. Over the next few weeks, my goal is to gain a better understanding of what brought me to this point and how I can learn to better deal with situations that prey on my insecurities.
This won't be the first time I learned these lessons — and God knows it won't be the last.
This piece was originally written in February 2014 and published on xoJane.com
Patrice Bendig is a contributor to Huffington Post, XOJane, Bustle and USA Today College. Follow her on Twitter @Patrice_Bendig for more hilarity. You can read her other musings on her blog, Quarter Life Writings and view her portfolio at www.patricebendig.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.