My earliest memories of stifling depression go back to the age of 7.
By stifling, I entail the kind of clinical depression that courses through your veins, colorings every thought, and places such a metaphorical weight on you that “youre feeling” unable to move in both literal and figurative routes.
Depression is a disease of inaction, of paralysis. At least, that’s how it manifests for me.
It’s a part of myself I have detested, a part of myself I’ve hidden and combatted — with drugs, with sexuality, with working too much, talking too much, taking on more and more … and I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.
Because the more I do, the more I can conceal the depression that’s lurking beneath it all.
When it comes to other people who are struggling with mental health issues, I am empathetic; I am patient and compassionate.
But when it comes to my own depression, I am none of those things. I am the opposite — impatient, angry, intolerant.
Getting a handle on my depression took a long damn period. Today, I am on the proper medication; I have tools and knowledge that I didn’t have even 10 years ago. Because of that, I have this unrealistic expectation that it’s solved, and when my depression crops up despite all my armor, I feel confused, angry, and anxious — but the majority of members of all, disappointed in myself.
I acknowledge intellectually that it’s unreasonable to hold myself accountable for brain chemistry that I hardly understand, let alone control. But I do. I feel responsible for it.
I also recognize that inducing yourself culpable for something you have no control over is cruel.
If I had survived cancer and the cancer is coming, would I blame myself? If I’m honest, I might. Which is so messed up.
Part of my( admittedly dysfunctional) coping mechanism is control. If I control the situation, the emotion, or the circumstance, then I won’t hurt. If I take medications to mask the emotional ache, I’m in control. If I cheat to prevent the heartache of being left or cheated on( because, of course, I’m unlovable ), I’m in control. If I run, work, run, and pushing and don’t stop, I won’t have time for the nervousnes.
It’s all a lie. Because my need to control sets me out of control.
One of my biggest life lessons that has come up again and again for me is compassion for ego.
And it’s a lesson that I am learning over and over. Because I am stubborn. Because my expectations for myself are ridiculous.
I have written and spoken a great deal about the Reiki healing I have done for the past 18 months. My Reiki healer has recurred this message to me during nearly every visit or conversation we’ve had: “You don’t have to be Superwoman. Show yourself some compassion.”
What stops me?
In my work as an advice columnist and general advice giver to my friends, I have said so many times that the most significant form of self-care is to say “This is how I feel.” And I’m pretty good at doing that — except when it comes to saying “I feel depressed.” Why?
Because when I say this, I feel like I have failed. I know that’s not a fact, but it is what I feel.
I still have moments and sometimes days that I think about suicide.
Even with all I have in my life. Even with all the love around me. Even with how very much I have to be grateful for. And when it crops up, I detest myself for it. Because you don’t have a right to feel this route. Because you have so much. Because you are a mom. Because you beat this thing.
If I were speaking to someone else who felt this route, I would say, “It’s OK. You can be 100% grateful for your life and still feel depressed. Depression is not a choice. Depression is a chronic mental illness, and it doesn’t stimulate you bad or broken or selfish.”
And still, I struggle to believe that for myself.
But I am working on it.
With Reiki and with meditation, I am doing active run — cognitive behavioral stuff — to rewire those brain pathways. I am making decisions to consciously, continuously handle my depression, and I remind myself repeatedly that it’s a marathon , not a sprint.
My default for so many years was to jump to one crystalized believe: I want to kill myself. Today, I am working on a new one: I want to have compassion for myself, even when I’m depressed.
And it’s running.
This article originally appeared on Ravishly and is published here with permission. More from Ravishly 😛 TAGEND