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The Day Came When I Was Actually Grateful for My Depression

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

To some, this statement may sound ludicrous. How can someone who battles depression be grateful for it? I too was mystified with this revelation.

One cannot describe the hopelessness one feels to someone who has never experienced depression. It arrives at our doorstep without warning. It does not send an email notifying us in advance of its visit, just as it does not wish us well when it swiftly departs. You cannot ask it to leave. To do so will cause it to be as irrational as a child who stomps his feet in defiance after hearing “no” when asking for a toy in a store.

Depression is not a choice, nor is it something one would wish for.

Depression causes us to go to bed at night praying not having to wake up the next day, and waking up in the morning wishing you hadn’t.

Our days are spent in solitude, even when we are physically amongst others. Our bodies go through life’s motions, while the mind flutters with pure chaos. Emotionally, we are numb. Everything we have built, enjoyed, felt, appreciated or loved disappears, leaving no forwarding address. As the days pass, they turn into weeks, sometimes longer, each one bringing with it more desperation for a way out.

It causes us to feel physically and mentally debilitated. It is an uninvited guest whose stay is sometimes lengthier than we had hoped, using every bit of resource we have, causing us to feel utterly exhausted upon its departure.

So how can one be grateful for something that feels nothing short of demonic? Because I have realized that without the shadows of the darkness, one cannot truly appreciate the rays of light. When the veil of despondency has lifted, life begins once again. The pain and despair, once debilitating, is replaced with hope and joy. We cannot know how to appreciate life until we know what it’s like to not want to live it.

To love yourself unconditionally, you must accept all that you are, and send yourself that love, even when you feel nothing at all.

We are not our depression, but like it or not, it is a part of who we are. If we disassociate ourselves with the pieces that are uncomfortable, then we are doing ourselves an injustice in self-love. Loving yourself unconditionally also means loving the pieces that hurt.

It’s easy to appreciate and love the good moments, the emotions that light our soul on fire, the pieces of us we feel bring forth our best selves, but we shouldn’t deny the whole. As human beings, we are conditioned to be joyous when life seems to go the way we would like, and disheartened when it does not. If we continue to live in such a manner, then we are being the victim.

Depression is not something we choose to experience, but it is something we have to learn to make peace with in order to be the victor. If you have experienced or are currently living with depression, and are currently reading this, you’ve already won. You’re here to see another day, live another moment, feel another touch. And although it may not be what you may want at the moment, someday you will.

That is the moment of gratitude. That is the moment you realize you are stronger than you thought, and braver than you had imagined. You have battled your discomfort once again, and come out on the other side valiant.

That is what you must remember — those feelings and those moments. How beautiful that touch feels caressing your skin, or that smile warming up your face and making your heart jump with excitement.

I believe there is a reason for everything in our lives, the light and the dark. Whether it’s a choice or not, we experience things in our lives so we can become who we are meant to be. I urge you to be patient in these times. Love yourself unconditionally and find gratitude for anything and everything, even if you must fake it. The more we shift our thoughts and feelings during these times, the more they become a habit.

Life will always bring the unexpected. Know that when this happens, your darkness will pass; you will see the light again, I promise.

If you are feeling suicidal, or need immediate attention for any mental illness, please reach out to someone.

A version of this article was previously published on Rebelle Society.

Photo by Amber Kipp on Unsplash

Originally published: March 9, 2019
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