I’m loving my week of guest posts so far because I love the range of topics we’re covering! We’ve done Disney and what it’s like being a Disney cast member and how to take care of your dogs in the summer heat and today we’re going to be talking about something a little more serious: depression. I have a really great post from Courtney from Courton Blue today so enjoy and be supportive!
My Mom describes my first few months as happy. I was, apparently, a very happy baby. I’ve been told I was a good baby, pleasant to be around, and predictably adorable. I don’t remember such a time. Other than those first few months, I don’t think I’ve ever been a happy person.
Depression crept into my life around the same time I started having hormone swings, changing for gym class, and wearing braces. You know, middle school. I don’t know anyone who looks back to middle school and thinks, “Wow, those were the best of times and man, I looked good.” Most people probably look back on them the same way I do. They were some of the worst years of my life.
With hormones came feelings. Feelings about boys, about friendships, about my self, my body, my family, everything. I remember being shamed in gym class by the teacher for being chubby, feeling like a little kid because I still hadn’t started shaving my legs, and being embarrassed by everything. Fortunately, I found writing and poetry in eighth grade and it became my outlet for those feelings.
Towards the end of high school I started to understand I was experiencing depression. Actual depression, not just feelings of sadness or discouragement. I didn’t know what to do so I tried to manage it the best way I could. I laid in the dark and listened to music. I wrote poetry and stories. I got a job at a restaurant and stayed as busy as possible with work, church, and school. It worked, for awhile. Then my friends started dating or went off to college and our relationships changed. When I went to college my depression got worse. Even though I was having new experiences, meeting new people, and studying new subjects, it was still there.
It’s been several years since college and depression has been with me every day as an unwelcome companion. Depression flows like a river in my life, constant but not consistent. Sometimes it is just a slow current and sometimes it is like the water raging after a storm. It’s continued like that to this day, though most days the water is a peaceful trickling. I know it’s there, it’s part of me and that’s okay. I have a responsibility to myself to be aware of the river, to manage it, and to ask for help when I feel the river rising too high. I don’t have a responsibility to be happy or worse, to pretend to be happy.
I’ve always thought if I can rid myself of depression, or at least keep the river from raging, I will be happy but that’s not the case. I recently read a wonderful post on The Oatmeal about being perfectly unhappy. Until I read this post I didn’t think it was okay to not be happy. I don’t think I will ever be the happy person I was when I was a baby. I do, however, want to be happier. I want to be pleasant to be around, I want to do meaningful things, and have meaningful relationships. I don’t want to drown in the raging river of depression. I want to be perfectly unhappy watching the current, knowing it will never sweep me away.