This past weekend was a doozie. We had a nasty storm hit on Saturday, and with its arrival came an equally nasty wave of depression for me. It doesn’t seem to matter how many days, weeks, or months I spend feeling depressed–I never manage to get used to how much it makes me dislike myself.
Obviously it’s hard to feel great about much of anything, let alone yourself, when you’re going through a depression. But on top of the regular depression-induced self-loathing comes a particular hatred of the depression, and the idea that there’s something wrong with you for experiencing it in the first place. In my case, the feeling is oppressive, and I often get stuck in a feedback loop, thinking that if I were a better person, I wouldn’t get depressed, and I would be a better person if I weren’t so often depressed. In addition to that, there’s an unshakable sense of how unpleasant the depression is, and the fear that it makes you as unbearable to others as you suspect you actually are. Pile that on to the rest: I’m going to drive everyone away, and there’s nothing I can do about it, and I have no control over feeling this way. After a while you start to feel like it’s inevitable: the depression is just going to eat away at your life, everything you’ve tried to build up over time as a reminder that there is more to you than feelings of sadness, anger, helplessness, and hopelessness.
At one point yesterday I came to the realization that as angry, frustrated, and (ultimately) sad as my depression may make me, it’s still a valid part of who I am. As such, it’s something I need to embrace and accept. It feels like a scary thing, sort of a slippery slope; if I embrace my depression, am I essentially just inviting it to settle in and stay for the rest of my life? As I’ve spent more time thinking about this idea, I’ve realized that embracing depression doesn’t have to mean getting lost in it. Rather, I can embrace it in the same way I might embrace the fact that I have freckles on my skin. This is part of what makes me who I am, for better or for worse. It’s something I struggle with, and something that has been a source of difficulty and pain in my life. But it doesn’t negate what I view as my good qualities; suffering from depression doesn’t make me less intelligent, compassionate, hard-working, or loving.
Trying to wish my depression away is not the most productive use of my time. And so I’m going to try, from now on, to take the good with the bad. There are things about all of us that we’d rather not deal with; maybe in trying harder to embrace rather than reject or suppress those things, we’ll get closer to finding the peace we’re looking for.