To My Fellow Depression Fighters: There Is Nothing Wrong With You

There is nothing wrong with you.

“Now…wait a minute,” you must be thinking. I’m sure if you’re on this site someone must have told you the opposite, but hear me out. Every single person has some sort of issue, whether it is depression, chronic pain or diabetes. That doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you, it just means that you are different than someone who is afflicted by something else.

Why does that matter? It matters because you have been trained to look at your condition through a negative lens. Trying to view it through a positive lens doesn’t mean it doesn’t still suck at times — it just means you learn to shift your focus.

For example, I have depression. Most of the time it is manageable, but sometimes an episode weaves its way into my life. True, I can’t control my emotions, but I can control my reactions to them. And that doesn’t mean I stop being depressed, I just give myself limits and short-term goals based on what I can do.

Maybe I have to lie on the couch and not move today, but tomorrow I have to do something. Even if it’s as simple as putting the dishes away. I know I can do that. And once I do that, I think of something else I know I can do. Maybe I don’t really feel like doing it, but I know I can do it. And if that’s all I can do during an episode, that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with that. And maybe I can’t leave the couch, but I left the bed. Sometimes that’s an accomplishment.

Even if I can’t do much during a bad episode, I know that once the episode is over I can do more. And for what it’s worth, I’ve worked real damn hard to get my depression under control for the most part. In my 20s, it used to be bad… real bad. But I’ve found techniques that work for me, and I am proud of my progress. So, be proud of your progress even if all you did was get out of bed today. You still did more than you were willing to do!

Another thing I am good at is mindfulness. When an emotion pops in, I take a step back and logically think about it. If my boss walks in and doesn’t tell me good morning, I immediately think I did something wrong and he hates me. Instead of spiraling down the everybody-hates-me path, I take a step back and really think about it. Can I read minds? No. Has my boss done or said anything else that might hint he hates me? No. Does he bring me in his office and yell at me for no reason on a daily basis? Never, actually. It brings me to the realization that I’m just trying to validate my emotion. His being quiet makes me nervous, so I’m assuming I did something wrong. And if I’m still worried about it, I can ask him and I’m sure he’d let me know.

So instead of focusing on what is wrong with you, focus on what you are good at. Focus on what you can and have accomplished. You have done great things! You cope with your symptoms every day and still manage to live your life. Maybe it’s not the life you wish you could have, but you are doing your best with the cards you have been dealt. Over time, you have discovered what works well for you. That takes courage.

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