I’ve been feeling really good lately. And sometimes I worry. I’ve opened up to people that I’m depressed. The image that people possibly have of depressed people may fall around the image of Eeyore and always walking around with this perpetual dark cloud over his head. Am I being a liar that I have depression and I’m smiling and laughing and enjoying life? I have these moments where I wonder if I should stop smiling and have this look on my face that says “Hi I’m depressed” but I don’t. Please understand that even though I feel good and I’m in a good place, I still have depression.
I don’t share with many people when I’m in a depressed state. People who truly know me will figure it out quickly and if you are one of the few people I trust, I will just say “I’m just having a day” which is my way of saying depression has set up roost in my body at that moment. If you don’t know me well enough but can sense or read me, I’ll just seem off. Like my smile doesn’t reach my eyes or I’m extremely quiet or distant. If I’m in a bad place, I’ll just want to curl up on my side and sleep and just ask to be left alone.
I see depression as an article of clothing. Imagine one of those suits that cover you head to toe. This is what depression felt like for me this past summer. It consumed me. It felt like it was strangling me and I couldn’t find a way out of it.The suit wouldn’t let me just be still. I had this sense of needing to keep moving. Unfortunately for me at that time, I did anything possible to not be in my house. No one was there, they were all away and I hated the sound of no one home. Sometimes, the head of the suit would fade away and I’d have moments of happiness and feeling good. Those moments didn’t always last long, but the depression suit didn’t come back to consume me like it did. At times the depression suit looked like an actual suit. More of my natural
At times the depression suit looked like an actual suit. More of my natural self-showing through and I could take off the parts of depression that felt heavy and confining. Then they’d go back on when the AT’s (automatic thoughts) came racing back in. I started therapy (with an amazing therapist) and decided to dive in. So the depression suit started to look like a tee shirt and jeans. Less control of me and less confining. Over time the depression suit began to become smaller and smaller. I could hang up the old suits and learn how to live with the new suit. Now I imagine depression to be like a tee shirt, more like an undershirt. The kind we wore when we were kids. We knew the undershirt was on, but no one could see it. They only saw the clothes we wore. My clothes are my feeling good and my happiness and my genuine smile. My depression suit is my undershirt that no one can see (unless I let them) and I always know it is there.
I’m very far from saying that I’ve conquered my depression. I honestly don’t think I can ever “conquer” it. I’ve got a handle on my triggers and how to handle them. Some I have to avoid or the depression suit will have me in turtlenecks and long pants sweating in the summer. Sometimes the undershirt of depression can be itchy. It wants to remind me that there are things that I have not completely gone away. That the issues will still float to the surface begging to be itched and become annoying. But that’s the thing. I’m learning how to deal with those triggers and learning that it’s okay to be happy and to be in a place of feeling good. I’ll always be scared of my depression. It terrifies me that it can come back when I’m not looking and consume me again.
I texted someone this morning and said this “I do have my moments where I have my doubts about things and I get worried I’m slipping back. But I hold on to what I know to be true and try to keep the doubts at bay.” I mean that with all my heart. I’ve had to learn what is true and what I can trust. I feel like my belief in myself was shaken to the core in what I’ve been through in the past year and I have to learn to believe in myself; that I am stronger than I think I am. I needed to learn that there are people there for me and who genuinely care for me. I needed to learn that I do not cause more bad than good.
I have learned that it’s okay to feel good, to be in a good place and to be happy and still have depression. Depression does not define me. It is just a part of me.