I struggled with naming this post. I was trying to decide between “I love my depression” and “Don’t tell me I’m damaged.” I think you can tell which one I decided on.
I’m trying more often to be completely vulnerable and honest with y’all so, here’s one of those posts. Geeze, I feel like I should start a mental illness category with all of the recent depression/anxiety posts I’ve been writing.
Tonight I got into an argument with a friend that will honestly probably lead to me never speaking to him again. I know, that’s probably awful but I just can’t do it.
Over the course of the conversation for some reason we started talking about depression – depression as a mental illness, not just a prolonged period of intense sadness. There’s a difference. So we started talking about depression and he told me I just needed to make a choice to be happy. I needed to decide when I was tired of being sad all the time and just think happy thoughts and get over it. I needed to go see someone and talk about it and take medicine and help people look for a cure.
So, after all of those things I wasn’t mad yet. I get that some people don’t understand and I’m happy to do my best to try to explain what it’s actually like.
I told him the way I feel when it strikes and that most of the time (unless it’s on a weekend) I do deal with it. I get out of bed and I go to work and I probably have an off day and I am more likely than not less productive than I could have been but I get out of bed and go about my day. I know, I am lucky. Some people have it worse and they actually can’t get out of bed. I try super extra hard to not even give myself time to think about it and I think my anxiety and the fear of failure that goes along with that makes getting out of bed and not failing a better option than trying to call work and explain that my sick day isn’t just something I picked up from a friend.
…Then he said the last time he “caught” depression. Yes, he caught depression like you would catch a cold. Do you catch cancer? No. Do you catch bipolar? No. You don’t catch depression either. It’s not contagious.
That made me mad. That made me yell and I feel bad but it made me mad. He told me he caught depression for a year and then he got over it.
Depression and saying you have depression has a stigma attached to it. People assume you don’t want to be depressed. They assume that it’s the worst thing you could ever think of, so wouldn’t you try everything you could to not have it?
Guess what? I wouldn’t.
It’s taken me some time to come to terms with it and honestly I think a lot of where my divine plan has led me in the past several years has allowed me the time and lifestyle to just listen to my body and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Like the caffeine thing. I recently learned that too much caffeine makes my anxiety worse, so, now I’m trying not to drink it. It sucks on days that I’m sleepy but I can handle it.
Some weekends I only get out of bed to make meals and go to the bathroom. Sure, that may not seem like the most fun thing in the world but meh, it happens. Life is exhausting and it’s exhausting for my heart and my mind and sometimes I just need to lay in bed and cry and feeling nothing and feel everything to get recuperated again. It sucks on days that I had plans or none of my “people” are available when I need them but I can handle it.
Guess what other ways my depression manifests itself in me? I feel things. I feel so many things so intensely. I love hard. I am sad hard. I am happy hard. I am angry (not very often) hard. Every emotion I get to soak up like a sponge and I LOVE that. I love my emotions because they make me feel alive.
My depression also means I can relate to other people who have the same feelings on a deeper level. It’s like this connection with other people who also sometimes have the same struggles I do. I’m not saying all depression is the same, just that it helps to have a support network of people who understand that saying “well just think happy thoughts” is probably the WORST thing you can say when I’m having an episode.
The way my brain was formed has more of some chemicals and less of others. That’s just the way it is and that’s the way I was made.
Want to know how else I was made? Perfectly. Whether you believe in the God I do, a different higher power or even that the universe was started by the big bang I was made perfectly into a human who can walk and talk and think and see and feel joy and sadness.
I am absolutely perfect just the way I am – depression included.
Want to know what else I am?
I am smart. I am funny. I am beautiful. I am loving. I am assertive. I can be selfish at times. I’m honestly not very graceful. I love journalism. I love to write. I like helping people. I have a heart for the Middle East and children in AIDS-affected areas. I have two degrees at 21. I have a full-time job and an apartment and a car and a life at 21. I moved 2,000 miles by myself to start my future at 21.
All of those things are perfect too. Depression is just one of those many things that can define me.
Just like I love all of those parts of me, I love my depression too.
So. Do not ever tell me I am damaged. Do not tell me I need to be fixed, don’t even hint at it. I am perfect just the way I am and I wouldn’t change a thing.