It’s been one of those days where my depression rears its head again. Extremely tired, feeling empty, having no willpower to get out of bed. I canceled group and I didn’t shower and get dressed until 4:30pm. I managed to drag myself to the store for dinner food by rewarding myself with two packs of chocolate chip cookies and it was an uneventful trip to be honest. I got home, cooked dinner (even though I really didn’t want to) and afterwards forced myself to change the litterbox and take out all of the trash in the house.
I also realized something important after reading a whole conversation on Facebook the other day: there is a difference between realizing your depression makes everything harder and you have good and bad days, and pretending your depression is the reason you can’t do things at all so you shouldn’t even bother trying. The latter is absolutely not true, and I know this will upset some people out here, but it’s so very important to recognize the difference if you suffer from this illness.
I mean, yes, depression makes you feel like you can’t do things, I won’t ever deny that. Today felt like I couldn’t get anything done, and I took forever to do things, but I made it work by canceling an appointment and taking it at a comfortable pace so I could end up doing some things. I won’t do dishes tonight even though I really have to, but I will do them tomorrow, whenever it works out with how I’m feeling.
Very often I see people instantly jump to the “I can’t ever do this so let’s just not try” mantra just because they have been diagnosed with depression and have their difficulties in everyday life acknowledged. While I have sympathy for this and I can understand it, I just cannot condone it. One reason is because I know what went on in my head when I was going through that stage, and I’ve always known I was lying to myself because trying is difficult, and difficulty isn’t fun or instantly rewarding. I wanted instant gratification, not a long-term payoff. I was told and understood that depression lies to you, but I still clung on to the idea that depression speaks the truth because it was easier not to do anything than to work on feeling better.
Having been there, and feeling disdain for who I used to be, I feel very uncomfortable when people use these lies to hide from their responsibilities to themselves. I know that everyone experiences depression differently, but not even bothering to try equals being comfortable in a miserable state to me. I feel less inclined to support people who relinquish to this side of themselves because it’s a waste of my energy.
I guess I want to blog about this in the hopes that someone out there who is like this will open their eyes and see what they’re doing, maybe change their ways a little too.
Let me get one thing straight though: I’m not saying trying will fix everything. I’m not saying you have to succeed right off the bat. I’m not saying you can’t ever have crappy days. I’m just saying, being honest with yourself and giving things a shot is the absolutely best thing you can ever do for your illness. Because if YOU are honest with yourself, it becomes easier to deflect the lies depression tells you. If YOU give things a try, you will eventually succeed with small tasks and you can build up from there, essentially proving depression’s lies wrong and making you stronger against it. This is the very foundation that leads to improving you mental health, managing your illness and in some cases even surpassing it.
It’s tough as balls, I’ll tell you that. “Nothing that’s worth it comes easy” is an apt saying though. When I have good days, I feel absolutely fantastic, and the more I work on being honest and trying things, the more I want to keep on feeling fantastic and the easier it becomes. I still have days where I give everything the finger and do nothing, but the feeling of dissatisfaction on those days is really bothering me now. I want to feel good, and that takes work. In my progress, feeling good has become something worth working hard for to the point that I’ll even happily do it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at least once or twice a week I give it my best shot. I stop complaining, I roll up my sleeves and get going.
I’ve committed going to my group twice a week most weeks to build up my social interactions, I use my bicycle to get to places and combine that with exercise, I set up meal plans for healthy meals and try to eat regularly; all of these things started off with small steps, but I started somewhere and I worked from there. It pays off. And when things don’t work out, I talk to my therapist about it and see what we can change to make it work out.
A few years ago, I thought none of this was possible. I was too tired to bother with anything, I felt worthless, I wanted to die just so I could stop feeling this horrendous emptiness shredding away at my insides. I couldn’t cope with every day tasks, I was stuck… That was depression ruling my life. Looking back, I realize it could only do so because I let it. Because giving in was easier. Because believing lies was easier than being honest with myself.
If you’ve come far enough to understand what depression is, but you’re still in that state where you say “I can’t do this because of my depression”, this might be worth thinking about. Try changing that line to “Depression is making this really hard for me, I need to break it down into steps and see how that goes”. It might surprise you how big of a difference it can make in your life.