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When Depression Makes You Feel Guilty During Moments of Happiness

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Here’s the thing. I am medicated. I am in treatment. I am depressed, (severely, currently.) I am anxious, and I also carry an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis in my back pocket.

Stay with me here because I am about to get complicated. Like, mind-blowing complicated. Sometimes my depression isn’t as heavy. Sometimes, the darkness is more like, pale grey instead of black. The proverbial water I am trying to look through is more like the bath water after my 3-year-old puts his disgusting, dirty feet in the tub after being outside all day, instead of the creepy, black, opaque river water in the horror movies where the backward crawling, human/demon lives.

This is where you all sit back in awe of my genius ability to use analogies because, right? I try really hard, but I just cannot grasp analogies. Stay with me.

Somewhere along the way, I developed this idea that because I am struggling on the regular, I am not allowed to be happy, like ever. This, of course, is not the case. Yet, time and time again, when I have the opportunity to go out and spend time with friends without my husband, without my children, that is not therapy for myself or my children, I feel guilty.

Is this guilt self-inflicted? Most likely. My depression, probably a lot like yours, is a cruel, hateful bitch, and she lies as a hobby. So, when in reality, my husband is smiling and happy for me to actually be leaving the house to do something that is not chore related, I don’t see it that way. I see him rolling his eyes and harboring resentment based on the idea that there have been days where he has had to help with the kids a little more than others because I just couldn’t.

Then, when I have a day where I feel good, less heavy, I feel guilty. I feel like, how dare I attempt to attain a semblance of normalcy in this otherwise upside down life of mine? How is it fair to those around me I can afford the luxury of laying around and “resting” some days? (I am using quotes because people literally say that to me when I am at my worst.) Then, when I am feeling better I can try to have fun?

Let’s be real. I am 42 years old. My youngest child is 3. I don’t drink (hello medication!) My idea of fun is mostly just being with my closest and most loved friends, who I cling to like they are the blood keeping me alive. Catching up. Listening. Laughing. Remembering what being alive is all about. Remembering what living outside of a shade and inside of an actual color feels like. Remembering to remember I am not my depression. I am alive. I am worthy.

So, to those of you who are sitting there thinking, “Omg me too!”  let’s all promise each other to try to remember, even though we struggle, even though we undoubtedly try the patience of our families on occasion, that we are doing our best to achieve wellness. During this time, we all bravely face the darkness in order to see color again. Sometimes, in between the dark and the bright,  it’s OK to feel truly happy to be surrounded by love. Without question. Without guilt.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: October 24, 2016
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