I've struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. It's like a long distance lover who visits from time-to-time; whom I miss when he's not around, yet the idea of him moving in scares the shit out of me. Depression can be a lonely disease (okay, maybe he's a jealous long-distance boyfriend). When swallowed into the depths of its grasp, indulging in joyful experiences feels like a betrayal or a sin. I felt that no one could relate or would ever understand. But I wasn't alone. My best friend had it too and this opened my eyes to the possibility that others could be living with it as well. I became more perceptive of the dialogue online surrounding depression. The conversation has certainly expanded and become louder since I first was swallowed up. But, I still find the conversation to focus primarily on healing, on fighting through and overcoming.
All I had read and consumed surrounding depression has conditioned me to believe that this disease is an inhibitor; that I need to suppress, to "heal," to hide it in order to manifest or be a functioning member of society. Yet, every time I try to bury it or block it out, it comes bounding back. Am I failing? Am I incapable of fully healing?
But, I love this sickness in a perverse way. It's comfortable, it makes me feel special - in a sense - or stronger as I've gone through the lowest of my lows and I'm still here. I don't want to let go or lose this bit of myself. Is that wrong?
As I grow more conscious of my authentic self, of my "purpose" and my soul's desires for this lifetime, I'm constantly faced with an internal battle:
Do I Let Go of Depression or Do I Embrace it?
Is depression inhibiting me from manifesting and reaching my truest, most authentic self? Or is it my truest authentic self?
The biggest lesson I've learned on my journey through this disease in my 20's (versus the rough and wild journey during my adolescents) has been that the more I try to fight against depressive feelings and "stay positive" or "just be happy" or "count my blessings," the more I feel as though I am betraying my truest self. Fully feeling my lows and embracing the emptiness they cultivate inside of myself has taught me how to be introspective, how to thrive as a loner and a self-healer. My depression has made me more creative, more empathetic and has absolutely shaped the person I am today. Digesting this truth, however long it has taken me to do so, is making me feel more empowered, magnetic and authentic.
What Embracing Depression Looks Like For Me
FULLY FEELING • I'm still working on this one. My depression comes and goes in waves. I can sense its arrival before it fully wacks me off my feet. My first reaction is to swallow it down, run and hide. Fighting through that defensive urge and allowing myself to fully feel the depths of that emptiness has made it much -surprisingly-easier to handle and to take the most advantage of this side of myself.
LISTEN TO WHAT IT'S CALLING FOR • What do you crave at your lowest low? Indulge in it. (If it's an unhealthy craving, that's a different conversation. I've dealt with those unsafe cravings, and still do. That can take resources outside of yourself to manage). My craving is writing. I would say I write my most creative, meaningful pieces when I'm in this low.
BE OPEN ABOUT IT • Don't be afraid of sharing your battle with those closest to you. Being verbal about my depression with close friends and lovers has allowed me to own it and embrace it. Yes, sometimes it can cause others to be a bit helicopter-y or over attentive. But the more open you are, the more free you'll feel.
DON'T BE ASHAMED TO ASK FOR HELP • When I'm in my lows, I don't want help. But sometimes I need it. This is the hardest part: understanding what low you're in or how long it will last or how debilitating it can become. Embracing depression does not mean you avoid dealing with it nor does it mean you should avoid getting help. Depression is an illness not to be ignored. There are plenty of resources out there. I'm in the process of finding someone in LA. It's not easy, but navigating alone can be even harder.