Today I offer a musing on my experience with depression. I struggled with a severe bout of depression in my later teens and twenties, and the experience and how pieces of depression are part of me continue to inform my choices.
Depression was like sinking — slow and fast. Drowning with my eyes open, though not realizing what was happening until I felt like I had no way back.
Part of the progression of healing involved acknowledged that I struggled with depression, that I had it and had had it. That is was a part of me, and maybe would be forever. Though part of me feels that looking at it as an “illness” is a cop out of sorts, a place I could hide and not take responsibility for it, I also see seeing it as an illness was part of my process of recovery.
However, staying in the illness view kept me in victim mode. Ultimately, a next step was to see that I did, in fact, have control over a lot of things: how I wanted to feel, the thoughts I put energy toward, and the actions I took (and these three greatly impacted each other). That through the choices I made, I could impact whether or not I’d stay stuck in depression.
Yes, I may have some genes that predispose me for depression. However, it’s not a place I have to live and stay. It’s not a life/death sentence. Rather, perhaps, the symptoms I associate with depression can be indicators for when I’m about to go off the rails, a warning flag of sorts to help me notice and then take appropriate action to help myself.
Today, depression doesn’t rule my life. Do I feel down sometimes, blue, tired, irritable, unsure, a touch hopeless, and/or low? Absolutely. It happens from time to time. And — I’m getting better and better at knowing and reminding myself that these are simply feelings; they, too, shall pass. They will not last forever. And they will pass faster if I let myself sit with wherever I’m at rather than trying to push through/away/down into where I think I should be. Depression is in the pushing. I don’t push anymore. And the waves pass.