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It's OK to Take a Day to Just ‘Exist’ Instead of Fighting Your Depression

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I’m not sure how this happened, but I’ve reached a point in my life where, like myself, nearly all of my friends live with at least one mental health condition. I think that it’s partially because I’m so open about my own depression and other health conditions, but it’s also a sign of the times. Many of us in our 20s and 30s deal with depression and anxiety, so it makes sense that nearly everyone in my innermost circle would live with at least one of these conditions.

Because of this, though, I try to check in with all of my friends throughout the week, and they typically do the same. Last week, however, I noticed that one of my friends had seemed a lot more closed off and quiet than usual, which is usually a sign that she is experiencing an uptick in depression symptoms. So, naturally, I reached out to my friend and asked her how things were going. During our conversation, I made a somewhat startling revelation — we all spend so much time and energy fighting our depression just so we can appear “normal” to the outside world.

Instead of forcing ourselves to fight our depression just to “fit in,” we should really focus that time and energy somewhere else, shouldn’t we? In my opinion, it’s OK to take a day to just exist instead of fighting your depression.

It’s OK to spend extra time in your bed if you don’t have the energy to get up as soon as the sun begins to pour into your window. Don’t rush into your day if your body and mind aren’t ready — just give yourself the time and space to simply exist just the way they are. By doing this, you can give your body what it needs the most: rest.

It’s OK to skip the shower and spend the day in comfortable clothes (even if they’re your pajamas) if the act of showering and changing will only make you feel worse. It’s also OK to order in food and use paper plates if cooking feels too overwhelming. Sometimes even the most basic activities of daily living can wipe out our energy, so don’t sweat the small stuff if you’re too tired to deal with it today.

It’s OK to call out sick and take the day off from work when dealing with the world feels too much to bear. Those emails and never-ending task lists will be ready and waiting for you the next day, no matter what your brain tries to tell you. By doing this, you are prioritizing your own health and well-being, which is more important than any job ever will be.

It’s OK to silence your phone and curl up on the couch to binge-watch your favorite television show or read an interesting book. Your friends will understand if you explain the situation to them, and your family probably will too. Sometimes dealing with other people feels utterly exhausting, and that combined with your depression may feel like too much to deal with at the moment — so don’t.

You may feel guilty for taking a day to just exist, but honestly? Sometimes, it’s exactly what our bodies and minds need. There’s no shame in giving in to your depression symptoms like fatigue and introversion from time to time, especially considering how much energy you spend fighting your mental illness day in, day out.

So next time you hear the alarm go off and think, “I just don’t have the energy to fight it all today,” just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s OK to take a day to just exist. You’re doing everything you can to live your life to the fullest, and sometimes our best simply looks like moving from the bed to the couch. And you know what? That’s more than OK.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Originally published: October 11, 2021
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