There have been so many times when I was in, what I now realise was a period of Depression, that I have made myself feel even worse through berating myself solely for the way I felt (Depressed.) This left me in a seemingly unescapable cycle of Depression, whereby I would be constantly asking, no, demanding, to know what gave me the right to say I was Depressed when I had ‘nothing to feel Depressed about.’ Such feelings led me to experience immense guilt due to me being unable to appreciate all the good that was, and is, in my life…
As I would so often remind myself; ‘I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and the financial security to do whatever I want with my life’, this being a stark opposite to so many people around the world who don’t have access to such luxuries, or even such basic necessities, and yet still manage to get up every day without feeling Depressed. This, I thought, was evidence of how ‘ungrateful’ I was because, despite all the good that was/is in my life, I was unable to appreciate it, or even feel it (the goodness.) Instead, all I felt was sad. All the time. No matter how much I told myself ‘Lisa, pull yourself together’, I couldn’t. In fact, telling myself this only served to reinforce what my subconscious mind was already telling me, that I was ‘weak’ and ‘selfish’ for being so caught up in ‘third-world problems.’
Looking back though, I realise that I wasn’t ‘weak’, ‘selfish’, or any of the other words I used to use to smear my self-esteem with. All that I was, was Depressed, and, at a time which felt like the lowest of my life, (an even lower time than when I was sectioned for Anorexia), I wish that I could go back and put an arm around myself and reassure the, slightly younger Lisa, that my feelings were valid, and that I didn’t need to feel guilty for feeling the way I felt. I wish that I could tell her all that I know now; that Depression is an illness, not a ‘mood’ so, in the same way that someone with Cancer wouldn’t feel guilty for having Cancer by telling themselves, ‘I have so much to be grateful for in my life, so why on earth have I allowed myself to experience Cancer?’, nor should someone with Depression pull themselves apart for ‘allowing themselves to experience Depression.’ For, like any illness, Depression is completely out of our control, therefore we do not ‘allow’ ourselves to experience it, and we cannot ‘deny’ ourselves the right to experience it, either. If only we could, life would be so much simpler! Unfortunately though, we can’t, and it is because of this that Depression can, and does, effect anyone, no matter what their status in society. How so? Because people don’t need a ‘reason’ as such to become Depressed, just as people don’t need a reason to develop any other illness. Whilst yes, there are undoubtedly certain factors and life events that increase the risk of someone developing Depression, the bottom line is this; you could have the ‘best’ life from the outside- an amazing job and loads of money coming in every month- but still suffer from Depression. Or, you could’ve had Depression in the past but not experienced its symptoms in a while and then, out of nowhere, the symptoms reappear, causing you to feel that same sense of emptiness that you thought had been left behind. Again, this is because Depression doesn’t need a reason to present itself because, it is not a ‘mood’ that we experience when something goes a bit wrong, it is an, often debilitating, mental illness.
With this knowledge then, that Depression is not something that we ‘choose’, as it is very much out of our control, we can all start to be kinder to ourselves, giving ourselves the love and care that we deserve when we feel Depressed, as opposed to the self-loathing and hatred that we all too easily give ourselves.
So, my message to conclude this post is as follows; go easy on yourself. Your mind is already battling with the stressors of day-to-day life every day, don’t let yourself become one of those stressors.
Take care and stay safe,