What Is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression is described as:
“A common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” These symptoms are present for a minimum of two weeks. (Click here to continue reading: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml)
I personally think of it more as this annoying flea that has decided to latch onto me, leeching from my blood and somehow poisoning it at the same time. I’ll have a few good days, then it decides I’ve had too much of a good thing so it siphons off any feel good chemicals left from my mind and body for its own use. I’ve just made a happy bug… ugh.
Other times, it feels like a sad, lonely miserable animal that won’t stop following me around, pouring its pain into me, and I can’t escape from it no matter what I do…it always finds me. This video below is an excellent example of what depression is like, and also a great video to share to those close to you that aren’t as familiar with depression. Maybe they’ll at least stop saying things like “just get over it, pull yourself together, it’s not as bad as you think it is,” or whatever cliche insensitive crap uninformed people throw at you.
Have you ever asked yourself, who am I without depression, without anxiety, or without _______ (fill in the blank)? Most of my life, I didn’t realize or understand that I was depressed or that I struggled with depression. When I look back, all I see now is depression, insecurity, hurt and loneliness. If you’ve dealt with any kind of mental illness for a significant amount of time, whether knowingly or not, it can become part of your identity, sometimes a big part, like it did for me.
I can be overly sensitive and emotional, I can find comfort in darkness, and brood over and stew in deep unpleasant or unsettling thoughts and feelings, unable to let things go. This is normal, well at least, my normal. So many years later, these “personality traits” still remain. I have built upon them over the years and even expanded some. I use to write to vent, express myself, and connect to my emotions, thoughts and feelings. Now I still do. Some of my hobbies, interests and personality traits that may have stemmed from my depression or as a coping mechanism, was there all along. Now I can thank the darkness for giving me more meaning, depth, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, empathy, sensitivity and powerful emotional depth that would’ve been rather superficial have little value to myself and others had I not had a black dog called depression raining on me day after day throughout my life. Not everything is bad, not everyone is bad either. Where in your life can you find the good in your mental illness? How has it helped you? What has it or having to live with it taught you?
For me, it got to such a bad point that self medication and avoidance, couldn’t help me anymore. That I sought professional help, then when that wasn’t enough, more professional help, and then even more. Overtime through this process, I was forced to look at myself and my hurts of the past, which I would probably still be running from otherwise. After looking at more recent traumas, eventually I found a counselor that helped me get to the core of all of it. Who knew, most of our deepest insecurities, fears and pains often stem from childhood. Often they can be things we never considered, or things we forgot altogether, like I did. Usually though, it’s the emotions and the feelings that get stuck, and can often be the reason why out of the blue we feel down or anxious and have no clue why. It could’ve been just a brief thought, a look from someone, or a feeling that randomly popped up that took a part of you back to a moment you are still stuck in. Maybe your body/mind is trying to help you look at that memory, so you can heal from it, so you can feel it in its entirety to finally put it to rest. Through working on yourself usually through self reflection and focussing on being present the heaviness starts to lift away. One by one, those rocks and boulders fall away and break apart, and so does the depression and the anxiety. The negative thoughts start to fade as you become aware of them, challenge them and put them to the test. Take the beautiful parts with you and everything you learned. Know that you aren’t your mistakes and your diagnosis doesn’t define you. When you feel lost, alone, confused or depressed, instead of saying to yourself “Why is this happening to me?” ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach or show me?” Know that “no” is also an answer and often comes in the form of things not working out in the way we want or what we thought was what should happen. “No” is often a blessing in disguise. The universe has a clearer idea of what we need than we do! Look for the silver lining, find the message. Sometimes hard times are necessary to develop the skills, mature, learn and grow into the person we are meant to be. I know I’m not quite ready for whatever this world has planned for me yet. But, I know I was meant for something more, something bigger, and big rewards come with big challenges and struggles.
No matter where you are at in your journey, know that these feelings don’t last forever. You haven’t lost control over your mind or body. You still have a choice. Are you going to let it win or are you going to rise up? It’s easier, yes, to feel defeated and much less work. It’s easier to complain about how crappy it is or how it’s not getting better. What’s hard and why most people are stuck is because they are afraid to do the work that’s necessary for healing. In this world of everything on demand, we want our health and healing to be on demand too. Well, let me ask you…. did you get to this point overnight? I’m guessing not. Generally, it’s quite a long process. The hard part is facing your demons and dragging them out of that dark closest and into the light, and having a long hard look at them and yourself. Can you accept your faults without crucifying yourself? Can you do this with compassion for yourself but also for those that wronged you? Can you find the good in the bad, the beautiful in the ugly, and the magnificent in the ordinary?
Let me tell you something you may not have heard in a while. You matter and you are here for a reason. You are worthy of selfless love and you have it within you to love so deeply. You have so much left within you to give the world. You are strong and you are braver than you know. You are not lost. You are on a journey, and that is a beautiful thing! Embrace it!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! I want to ask you, what have you found to be on your mind more so lately? Any particular struggles or challenges you’d like me to talk about or even just share some inspiring words on? This blog is for everyone! A community for anyone who can relate, and a safe place for anything on your mind, with a thoughtful and kind group of people that can relate and have your back. Please follow and be sure to leave a comment with any thoughts, tips, or suggestions for this blog post or future posts. Thanks for your love and support!
Peace and Love,