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5 Ways I'm Learning to Trust Feeling Good In Depression Recovery

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As I sat with my therapist, I described my previous two weeks, which had gone very well. I was particularly proud of some of my accomplishments and was excitedly describing what I had achieved. Suddenly, I stopped and burst into tears. Why was I crying? I started to cry not out of sadness, but with a mixture of excitement and fear. This was a surprise to me in my recovery. I hadn’t felt well in a long time. I didn’t know if I could trust it and frankly, feeling depressed was my “normal,” so the goodness felt weird.

The darkness of depression can become so familiar that being well can feel scary and unsettling. I am still in the place of learning to trust the wellness, and for those of you who may be in a similar space, I’d like to share with you some of the steps I’m taking as I learn to trust it.

1. Sitting With the Feeling Without Judgment

There is a practice in meditation that, over time, teaches the practitioner to gain the ability to sit with their feelings. The idea is that feelings and thoughts will come into your mind during meditation, and the practice is to accept that this is “normal” and that you have the ability to simply take note of what comes and then move on.  And so I am learning to sit with the cheerfulness I am beginning to feel. I’m working on simply allowing it to be and not judge or overthink it. Which leads me to the next step.

2. Not Overanalyzing

Introspection can be a great thing. We sit in therapy, read self-help books and share in support groups for this very reason. On the other side of this is the possibility of overanalyzing. I’m learning that I do not have to have a reason to feel happy; I don’t always need to know why I’m having a good day. A part of growing into this wellness is recognizing that good days are very well going to start to outgrow the bad, so I certainly can’t spend all of those days analyzing.

3. Thankfulness

I’m taking some time to notice the goodness and being thankful for it. This can look different for each person. It may be journaling, making art or praising the universe. By cultivating thankfulness, I am beginning to see the positives in the appropriate light and learning not to be afraid of them.

4. Letting Go

Whether we’ve gone through a breakup, experienced the death of a loved one or the loss of a job – part of moving forward is letting go. More often than not this involves grief. I am going to say something that sounds odd, but is absolutely true. You are allowed to grieve your recovery from depression. You may grieve the lost years, the way of being and thinking you grew used to, dark artistic creativity and so on. You can absolutely grieve these things and when you feel ready, you can let go. I’m still working on this myself and it is a confusing conundrum. Yet, by telling myself that no feeling is wrong, including grief, I find I have a certain type of peace.

The idea that you have to get used to feeling good about your mental health may sound ludicrous to some. It does seem counterintuitive, because when you are depressed, you often spend your days longing to get better. And usually you are putting in some hard work to get there. Yet I know I’m not alone in this, and I suspect it is a fairly common phenomenon. My guess is that people have a hard time admitting this to anyone, for fear of judgment. I also think that by not exploring this topic, we can lead ourselves back to relapsing. So I am here to say it’s OK to feel afraid of recovery — it’s “normal” — and there are ways of making it more comfortable. I hope that by sharing my story and these steps, I can encourage anyone else who needs to hear them.

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Getty image via Archv

Originally published: December 6, 2017
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