By Kelsey Morgan
When one of my favorite YouTubers, Martina Stawski of Simon and Martina (previously known as Eat Your Kimchi) opened up publicly to discuss her struggles with depression and chronic illness, it struck a chord so deep within me that I suddenly felt the need to share the message with everyone else I met.
That message can be summed up in one hashtag: #BuildALadder.
This method of actively uplifting yourself, doing what little things you can every day but allowing yourself to be sad other days when you need it most, might be one of the most important things you can tell anyone who suffers from depression, chronically or otherwise.
On top of her depression, Martina suffers from Ehlers-Danlo Syndrome, which essentially means the connective tissue in her body is dysfunctional, meaning her joints are constantly popping out of place, being worn down, and driving her struggles with chronic pain. Because the syndrome has no real treatment, she can never expect to find relief from the chronic pain, despite constant doctor’s visits and the preventative care she takes in order to lessen the symptoms as much as possible.
In the video, she discuss her history with depression, and how in the darkest point in her life, she realized something:
“I came to my life mantra, which is, why not do all the things you want to do? I mean, If you’re willing to end it all, then, why not do everything you want to do? That makes no sense, there’s no consequence. You’re gonna end it, so you might as well do everything you want to do.”
In this mantra of hers, she goes on to explain how doing little things, and eventually working up to bigger things, is akin to climbing a ladder. Each daily success, each “little adventure” she goes on, each happy memory she creates, is another rung on the ladder. And rung after rung, she’s able to lift herself further out of her depressive pit.
While this method certainly isn’t a cure for depression, and for a number of people more intensive therapy and medication might be necessary, it’s certainly a technique anyone can use when they need a little pick-me-up.
For me, I cannot currently afford the mental health care I need to combat my depression, and it’s been that way since I was a kid. Maybe that’s why I resonate so much with Martina’s advice: because I’ve always found myself doing similar things to help up my mood a bit. Whether that’s setting a goal to make my bed every morning for one week, or cleaning my bathroom, or maybe finally getting around to re-dying my hair, the path to recovery doesn’t always have to be long and arduous.
Sometimes it is, and some days it will certainly be more difficult than others, but that’s why it’s so important for others who suffer from depression, anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, and school-related stress to find ways to lift themselves up when there might not be any other immediate options.
More to remember: Keep in mind what it means to have an invisible illness, like depression or chronic pain. If you watch through some of Martina’s other videos (or if you’re already familiar with her YouTube Channel) you will be familiar with her constant happy and bubbly attitude — despite struggling so much with her disease. Just like with other popular vloggers on YouTube, it’s never fair to assume just because someone looks happy it means they always are — and in the same way, it should be applied to yourself and the people in your own life.
Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with your mental health, as much as you can. Some days, it might feel like you’re drowning; on other days you might not have the strength to fight back, and all you want to do is lie in bed and cry. In those cases, please, lie in bed and cry. But on others, when you feel up to the challenge, take Martina’s advice and #buildaladder.
Depression over a lot of things has gotten me down but I decided to #buildaladder and do my own laundry yesterday afternoon.
— Hailee Rae (@HaileeMizuki) April 11, 2017
— Sheena (@runningonfire) March 11, 2017
— wenhui (@baowenhui) March 5, 2017
While you’re building and climbing your rungs, don’t forget to share you experiences with others. Offer advice, tell them what you do, and invite them to join you. I think if we had more ladders in the world, it might be a little bit easier for everyone to get on.
What do you do in your everyday life, whether you realize it or not, to #buildaladder? What kind of goals have you set for yourself? Whether it’s to deal with your depression, your anxiety, your chronic illness — what do you do to add another rung?
Photo by Samuel Zeller
Kelsey is a freelance writer from Boise, ID, where her days consist of coffee, baggy sweaters, and fingers breaking a sweat over the keyboard. When she’s not writing, she’s drawing, spending time outdoors, or crying over cats at the petstore. You can follow her on Twitter here!