3 Important Lessons I've Learned From My Depressive Episodes
About two years ago, I realized some actions I was blaming my personality for were symptoms of depression. After realizing this, I became more aware of my feelings during, before and after my depressive episodes. I began to realize even though these episodes completely changed my daily plans, left me feeling hopeless and like giving up, I’ve learned some very important lessons. Here’s what I learned:
1. People with depression have to do “self-love” differently.
I went on a self-love journey before figuring out I had depression. My journey was all about learning to love myself. After a recent episode, I began to reflect on one of my firm life theories that “you cannot truly love someone else unless you love yourself first.” Some people with depression simply cannot figure out how to love themselves and it’s not because they don’t want to, but more because sometimes they can’t control when depression overshadows all the good they’ve done. This should not dictate whether or not they are worthy of love. I am fully capable of being an amazing friend and family member, but according to this theory, I was not capable of being loved back.
2. My story can help others.
After being more transparent with my mental illness, I began to see friends around me shift. They did not start treating me differently, but began exploring their own mental health more and feeling more comfortable talking about it. Although it is hard for me to discuss, I feel as if there is someone out there who is also struggling.
3. I have “high-functioning” depression.
When we are taught about depression, we learn of one kind of depression. With this stereotype about what depression is, we tend to look over the other forms of depression. High-functioning depression is depression that allows you to work as hard as you can to succeed but you never feel good enough. When I have my episodes, my friends tell me about how amazing I am, how I’ve changed their lives and so many other lives. But even as they say this, I feel completely worthless. I was so confused. How could I have gotten to the highest level of student leadership at my university but still not feel good enough? How could I bring so much hope, life and change to other people but not be able to bring hope, life and change to myself? There are many forms of depression other than just the “cookie cutter” form of depression and we cannot overlook these other forms.
These lessons have played a major role in my development as a leader, student, friend and human being. Hopefully these lessons I’ve learned in my tough times can help someone else get through their tough times. Always remember, it’s OK to not be OK.
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Thinkstock photo via Natalia-flurno.