The Bravest Thing I Do Every Day While Struggling With Depression
I’ve spent so many hours in emptiness.
I almost said darkness, but darkness isn’t quite right. In darkness, there’s the substance of night. There’s the possibility of moonlight, a candle, a light bulb even. Depression does not have this richness or possibility. It tastes like ashes in your mouth, feels like emptiness, looks like the dingiest of gray concrete. During that time, I felt unworthy of the best life has to offer. The sense I deserved what was happening to me kept me mired in depression for so long.
The bravest thing I do every day is get out of bed.
When I first wake, hurtful thoughts immediately pop into my brain. Another day. I have to do this. How am I going to get through it? It’s too much. I’m too tired. It’s too much work. I’ll never be able to do what I need to get done. Or I’m assaulted by memories of things I’ve done that I’m ashamed of. Jobs I’ve left. People I’ve cried in front of; people who have witnessed my weakness.
Even writing this brings tears to my eyes.
I know you can’t see them, but I wonder if they might come through in my writing. It hurts so much to live in a world that doesn’t value my feelings. My desire for peace in my heart and in my soul. The world doesn’t understand I’m not lazy, I’m not stupid. People who look at me like I have three heads when I say: “I’m in between things” or “I’m writing.” People who expect me to have a career path, a 9 to 5, a 401(k), a LinkedIn account. The years of struggle, of trying to fit in, trying so hard to squish myself into a small space. How it feels to just sit here and write and feel like my soul finally has room to breathe, to stretch out to the heights of the sky.
I didn’t ask to be like this. It wasn’t a choice.
I didn’t decide to feel everything so deeply, to be so empathic I’m almost permeable. I didn’t decide to be so anxious, to be a 5-year-old child who ran to her mother, crying, saying her brain was telling her to put her hand on the hot stove and let it burn. To be a 9-year-old child who lay awake at night, terrified of getting cancer. A 10-year-old child who still lay awake, seeing images of needles going into her eyes. An 11-year-old child who wore the same gray sweatshirt with holes in it all winter. A 14-year-old child who couldn’t stop ruminating about a classmate, paranoid he was after her. A 15-year-old child who compulsively confessed everything to her parents. An 18-year-old child who thought she didn’t deserve to go to a nice college. A 19-year-old child who discovered panic attacks and proceeded to spend the next seven years of her life as a rubber band ball, made of anxious thoughts and strangling feelings.
I’m a young adult now, and I’ve had a lot of therapy.
That’s why I’m able to write and try to help other people who may have felt just as helpless and scared and alone. Who’ve felt like a misfit in a world of smiling, productive people. I’ve read some good books that have helped me, and discovered a beautiful, nondenominational spirituality. I’ve learned there are people out there who care, even if they’re few and far between. There are people who believe in a kind and compassionate world where we never rationalize suffering and tell people to buck up and power through. Where we listen to people and believe them when they talk. Where we give everyone the dignity of their own reality and offer them the love and caring they deserve. Where crying is a sign of strength and not weakness.
My commandment is: Love Your Innermost Happening.
Accept it. Admit it. This is who you are. A lot of people aren’t going to understand. Leave them be, and find the people who are aware enough to accept you. What’s happening inside you? What are you dreaming? Thinking? Feeling? What are you longing to do? What needs to change, or stay the same?
The second bravest thing I do every day is accept myself for who I am.
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