How I Celebrate the Small Victories in My Life With Depression
Today I took a shower. What’s your superpower?
This may sound strange, but if you understand how much energy is sucked out of a person who struggles with their mental health, then you would know that doing a “mundane” task in life really is an amazing feat.
I don’t know all of the science behind it and what exactly it is that takes such a toll on my body when my mental health is going off. I do know that something does. Getting out of bed, taking a shower, brushing my teeth — this is my version of a triathlon. When I am done with all of these, I usually feel a little better about myself. Sometimes I just like being able to say I did it. I did something I knew was difficult, when my mind was telling me to just stay in bed.
Sometimes I do it as a way to compare myself to the rest of the world. “See! I can be put together too!” I know the rest of the world has troubles too and I am not the only one with issues; it is just hard to relate with the rest of the world when I haven’t taken a shower in two days.
Whatever the reason for getting myself ready, I do know one thing for sure, I rarely like doing it. So! Much! Work! Each step can be brutal.
“I don’t want to get in the shower.” I will think to myself.
Once I am in the shower, “I don’t want to get out of the shower.”
And then, “I don’t want to put on pants.”
(Full disclosure, I don’t wanna wear pants no matter what is going on inside my head, so I don’t know if that counts.)
Just because something seems simple doesn’t mean it is easy. As someone who struggles with my mental health, I need to acknowledge my victories. I need to remind myself that I am here, I am alive, and while I may be battling with my mind, I have not lost the war.
I also need other people in my life who can help me remember that as well. I need someone who I can tell these things to and they will tell me I am doing a good job — and that can be hard to find. Most of the people I talk to about this kind of thing just stare back at me blankly while crickets chirp in the background. And if a person has never experienced this kind of thing, I don’t actually expect them to get it. I am glad they don’t because that means they have never been through it, and that’s a good thing.
Having someone who does support me is pure gold. I am fortunate that my wife will do this for me and she does appreciate the effort I put into taking care of myself, even if I still have a long list of things I haven’t accomplished yet. I am blessed.
A lot of the people I talk to ask what they can do to support their loved one who struggles with their mental health. One of the first things I say is to “celebrate the victories.” Life is hard for everyone. Life with a mental health struggle can be even harder, but harder doesn’t mean a life without victories. Find the victories in the little things. Rejoice in them. Tell someone you are proud of them.
It may seem trite, but when you understand how hard we had to fight to be here, alive, showered… you would know just how strong we are.
Getty image by katiafonti