For a few weeks now, I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should share about my struggles. it’s personal and messy and I’m not sure I want to reveal that to the world. Well, here I am. Messy, broken, but healing. In an attempt to make sense of my experiences, I wrote- a lot- about the question I believe many people ask: what is depression?
I came to the conclusion in that depression, unlike other medical conditions, varies drastically from person to person.
San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Creative Commons
- unable to be defined.
- wanting to enjoy the company of friends and family, but ignoring them when they reach out to you.
- lying awake at night and dragging yourself through the night.
- telling yourself that you’re the only one who feels this way.
Isolating yourself is the worst possible action you can take if you’re struggling with depression. It’s tempting. I created excuses not to go to birthday parties, and many other activities. I didn’t have any reason not to attend these events, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t wanted. Surely the party would be more fun without me.
I loved this excerpt from Donald’s Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz:
We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.
Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
In the past, I was naive in believing that depression was black and white. In other words, I thought you happy go-lucky or suicidal. The truth is that there is a large gray area spanning between those two extremes.
I’d say my depression peaked my sophomore year of high school. I was trying hard to fit in. Trying to finally become friends that I had eaten lunch with since 5th grade.
Whether or not I realized it at the time, writing became my therapy. It helped me come to terms with feelings I didn’t know how to share in depth, even with my closest friends.
Here’ what I found about writing:
Writing heals you from sicknesses that before, you never even knew you had.
When you write (if you do), my guess is that you tell a piece of paper more than you tell most people. People wonder why I’m such a crazy advocate for keeping a journal. I guess I hadn’t previously connected those experiences with my writing habits. There’s no doubt that they’re related.
I knew I was depressed when I denied having any feelings at all. I threw myself into school, church activities. Not to mention other people’s problems. It was bad.
Only recently have I really been able to do more than just write, I’ve come to the point where I can wake up in the morning and decide for myself that I’ll get out of bed and choose joy.
Regardless of how my day goes. Unfortunately, that is one thing I don’t have control over.
That decision may seem action may seem small and insignificant, but not everyday is as happy-go lucky as we’d like. It’s not something we should discredit. Recognizing the smallest of achievements is important.
For me, depression is something that doesn’t really go away once it’s begun. I’ve simply learned to cope with it and recognize the red flags which let you know the real you is being stifled by someone else. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve filled over twenty journals with practically everything. I’m not saying that to brag, but to emphasize that a lot of life happens in short amounts of time. If we’re not careful, life continues on it’s way before we are able to learn anything from our time spent in the pits. And thus the cycle goes unbroken. Nothing gets better.