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Why I Didn't Want to Give Up My Depression

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I have lived off and on with depression (I have bipolar disorder) since I was 13 or 14. I am 23 now.

2017 in particular, was a year of severe, debilitating major depression. In and out of hospitals and withdrawing from college classes, I started to feel hopeless about my condition.

In November, I left college to go to a residential treatment facility for mental illness. I engaged in a specific type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and had my medications adjusted. As I spent time there, the clouds began to lift.

I sat in my room at the treatment facility journaling at a quick pace. I had my headphones plugged into my ears and everything around me felt peaceful. I wasn’t hypomanic — I was just regular happy. I wasn’t accustomed to this feeling.

Happiness. It was relieving. However, with that, it also felt alien. Scary. I wasn’t used to this.

I left residential on a high note, feeling as though I had gotten my life back. As 2018 began, I started to feel that sense of depression and gloom creep back into my life. It was permeating my mind once again.

Only this time I had the tools from DBT to combat my illness. It was a mild depression and with the right coping skills, I could beat it. It would take hard work, but it was definitely doable.

As I sat on my bed, negative depressive thoughts swirling through my mind, I felt this sense of defeat. A revelation had dawned on me: I didn’t want to completely give up my depression. I wanted to sit there with negative thoughts in my head. Not because I enjoyed the pain, but because it was comforting. I didn’t know how to move forward in life without depression. I only knew how to live with it, and along with that, how to use dysfunctional coping skills that would only lead to more depression.

It was comfortable. It wasn’t scary and unknown. Getting a job and returning to classes is unknown, but being sad and hopeless isn’t.

I am learning to move forward, to see the positive in life. Just because depression is comfortable, it doesn’t mean I want to live with it forever. It’s time to move on and start living life.

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Unsplash photo via Naletu

Originally published: January 25, 2018
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