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The Trouble With Trying to Follow Your Own Advice When You're Depressed

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Being depressed isn’t anything new for me. I call it my “default setting,” because it seems like I hit a peak of mania for such a short time and then drop into depression immediately after. I read a bunch of self-care tips, do the meditation stuff and the breathing exercises, but when depression comes knocking, I can barely remember to drink enough water, let alone keep myself on a regimen. No matter how little I feel like taking care of myself, I always put forth the effort, not for myself, but because I don’t want my husband to worry more than he has to.

We were buying groceries and I asked him to pick up band-aids as I went to inspect toothbrush options. He gave me a puzzled look and asked why we needed band-aids in the first place. I rattled off how I am an accident-prone individual with a new pair of shoes that would soon give me blisters. He picked up sparkly band-aids and put them in the cart, telling me that he just wanted to make sure I wasn’t self-harming again.

I looked down at my arms. The scars are only barely visible, and most of them are from a long time ago, but I can see them and I know they’re there. I knew he meant well, but the fact that he felt he had to stop and make sure that I wasn’t buying bandages to cover up my addiction to self-harming behaviors made me sad. I deal with my depression spells in the best way I can, but I never wanted them to become someone else’s problem.

Each time I feel a depression wave coming, I isolate myself. I stick in headphones, turn on my playlist for bad days and I hope this time won’t be so low. I tell other people all the time that if they feel like they can’t find their way through their depression to reach out and talk to someone. But for some reason, whenever I feel that same way, I can’t listen to my own advice. I bottle everything in until it all comes out-streams of tears, ugly crying at 3 a.m. because of something that happened years ago and I was thinking about it.

In the end, my husband listens to my sadness and as he put it “tries to interject some happiness to the voices that tell me I’m not worthy of laughter.” I’m learning that blocking myself off isn’t protecting him from my emotional roller coaster — it’s just making him worry more. I may not want to talk about how I’m feeling, I may not want to invest time in my own self-care, but I know that if I just let myself be open about how I’m feeling, it might not get better right away, but I don’t have to fight the darkness alone.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: October 7, 2016
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