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How Depression Altered My Perception of Success

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They say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But when you have depression, the grass is always greener somewhere else and the glass is always half empty. Although we define success by our own terms and personal goals, we often compare ourselves to others. Even with positivity and support, depression still managed to alter my perception of success.

Trying to grow my photography business is no easy task in a world where creative jobs are competitive and few and far between. As if navigating the freelance world wasn’t hard enough already, my depression preys on my insecurities and fuels a lack of confidence. Photography is the one thing I have always felt confident with and what I enjoy doing most. However, trying to make my passion my career has filled me with fear and doubt. Depression tells me I am not good enough. It reminds me of all of the other photographers around me who are constantly booking jobs on a daily basis. Depression doesn’t care that other people’s situations and careers are different. It doesn’t care how long it took others to get to where they are now. If my career is not up to par with their’s, I must be doing something wrong.

Most days I am faced with a mental war. One half of my brain tries to stay positive, logical, motivated, optimistic and patient. The other side feels hopeless and negative, which subsequently breeds the feeling of failure. The rule of thumb is we are supposed to focus on our own life and not compare ourselves to others, but I am only human and sometimes it is hard not to.

Depression knows no rules.

I attended a lecture series recently, and the speaker said something that really struck a chord with me. In regards to her own journey of success, she said along the way she treated each of the small moments as a “dream come true.” I could have burst into tears right then and there. The fact that I have constantly let my depression overshadow my successful “building block” moments breaks my heart. I am not where I want to be in my career, but I realized my depression has given me an unrealistic and unhealthy perception of what it means to be successful. If I didn’t have it all, it was nothing. In that moment, I knew it needed to change.

There are great people around me who tell me to keep working hard and not to get down; they reassure me my time is coming. The support is fantastic, but telling someone with depression not to get down or frustrated is futile. What the speaker said was the key piece of advice I really needed to hear. No matter how hard it may be, you have to stay positive – even through the darkest days. Sometimes the little things are the big things and it’s time they are celebrated rather than critiqued. Depression may frequently cause me to be my own worst enemy, but it also makes me resilient. It forces me to keep pushing even when I feel lost. As the Japanese Proverb says, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” No matter how slow or steady the journey may be, I am going to start celebrating and appreciating the little victories along the way. Depression may be the “on-again-off-again” roadblock I have to face, but I will never let it stand in the way of doing what truly makes me happy.

Follow this journey on Morning Glory Blog.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: November 30, 2016
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