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Why It's OK I'm Not 100% Recovered From Depression

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The day I left outpatient, I gave a “parting speech” to the group I was in. I told them I was better. And to be fair, I was better. I wasn’t constantly thinking about death. I wasn’t constantly in pain, struggling for a way to escape. I wasn’t using unhealthy coping skills to spend a brief moment away from the trauma of being inside my own head. On the contrary, I was smiling most of the day. I was laughing. I was spending time with my family and friends. I was playing guitar again. I was running. I was painting. So yeah, I looked and felt like I was better.

Sometimes, though, you aren’t 100 percent better. Within a few short weeks, I returned to school to start my senior year. I spent hours with my doctors mentally preparing for the heavy workload I was about to take on again, for the rhythm of classes to set in, for the awkward encounters of “Where were you last semester?” and for the loneliness I would feel while trying to amend broken friendships. I felt ready. I had spent all summer working up to this moment. Of course I could do it. But then reality set in; I realized there was a chance I couldn’t do it, and that this semester wasn’t going to be perfect.

And that’s OK. Just because I was given a stamp of good health from my doctors doesn’t mean I’ll feel 100 percent myself 100 percent of the time. In fact, I had some pretty sh*tty days last semester. I’ve had days where I couldn’t get out of my head, when the thoughts of shame, sadness, overwhelming hopelessness and anxiety have flooded me. But I’ve also had some pretty damn fantastic days where I’m in awe at how far I’ve come and how strong I really am. More than that, I’m grateful for everyone who helped me along the way. Recovery is an ongoing process, one in which the endpoint may not entirely be an endpoint. I may not feel entirely myself, and I may never be myself again, but I’m much better than how I was. I still have bad days, but they are few and far between.

My point is that even if you’ve recovered from depression, it’s OK to still feel this way sometimes. It’s OK to still have those bad days, because without them, we can’t be grateful for the good days. It’s OK to show weakness, because without it we can’t be strong. It’s OK to not be 100 percent better because the truth of the matter is, no one is 100 percent anyways. And that’s OK. As long as you remember that you’e strong, you’re more than this illness and you are not alone. You will fight through.

Originally published: January 31, 2016
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