A black and white photo of a women in a baseball hat, sweater and dress outside in a garden

I don’t believe in depression.

I’d like to start off by saying that this is in no way a dismissal of mental illness but rather my own personal experience. When I say, “I don’t believe in depression,” I mean more specifically that I don’t believe in my own. Let me explain.

As someone who has been diagnosed with depression and has lived off antidepressants for the past three years, I can say, with certainty, that dealing with demons in your head is not the same as “feeling sad.” It’s tiring and frustrating. It often leaves you cornered with nothing except your own insecurities.

“You just have to look on the bright side of things,” people would say.

“That’s a great concept,” I would reply with an overwhelming hue of sarcasm. “There is no bright side in my mind at this moment. There is only dark and broody.” Thank you very much.

You end up feeling alone in your thoughts. So you slide deeper down the rabbit hole of depression, telling yourself that no one will ever understand how you’re feeling. In a way, of course, that is true. No one can possibly know exactly what you’re feeling and thinking.

At some point, I was tired of feeling sad and powerless in the face of my overwhelming emotions. I wanted to feel good, to be “normal.” It took me years to finally understand that there is simply no such thing as “normal.” There is “healthy” and even that concept is uniquely different to each person. It is that realization that has finally brought me what I was so desperately, albeit unconsciously, craving: peace.

There is simply no such thing as “normal.” There is “healthy” and even that concept is uniquely different to each person.

Someone once told me: “Energy is a choice.” Every morning when I wake up, it is the first thing that comes to my mind, and it is how I set the tone for the day ahead. I choose to be grateful, to try and have a positive outlook on life, to attempt to make someone’s day a little better by being there for them.

Thus, I set a purpose that shifts my focus beyond myself and makes me see the bigger picture. I take deep breaths. I drink water. I try to do at least one thing a day that brings me joy. I think of all the people that I love and remind myself how lucky I am to have been blessed with such wonderful relationships.

Choosing how to shape your outlook on life is easier said than done, and unfortunately, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through a series of small changes you make to your mindset and your lifestyle. Eventually, you’ll find yourself more at peace.

A few years ago in therapy, I learned that it is important to not repress or fight negative emotions. My therapist once compared my sadness to a crying child: “How would you react to that?” The answer is to comfort them.

In the same way as you would comfort someone who is hurting, she told me to take the time to take care of myself whenever I feel like my own negativity is becoming too heavy. Comfort can present itself uniquely to every person or even to the same person in different situations.

It is important to not repress or fight negative emotions.

I believe that there are good days, and there are bad days. I believe that I am very sensitive, and my emotions are easily triggered. I believe social interactions exhaust me more than they exhaust others and that I need significant alone time to recharge. However, I refuse to believe that my default setting is “depressed” or “sad.”

Energy is a choice. I choose to be in peace with the parts of myself that require love, comfort and attention just as I choose to give to others what I wish to receive from the world.

I have found that as soon as I turned my focus away from how miserable I thought I was to what was actually happening outside my head, it became so much easier to switch gears. Then, I am free to write my own narrative.

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

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2 comments

  1. Depression is a real struggle and something we all face up with. It is sad that lots of people don’t understand what this is, and worse is the category that do not see depression as something worth paying attention to.

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