Having a licensed professional tell you that you are exhibiting signs of depression is devastating. Depression has always been a real possibility for me, because of how closely intertwined it can be to anxiety. Anxiety tends to focus obsessively on the future state and depression focuses on the past, and when combined together it’s impossible to move forward. Being told I have depression made my anxiety spike and I immediately thought I was given a death sentence. My brain thought “great, now we are destined to live a sad existence and be labeled even more of an outcast than we were before.” I’ve been taking some time to reflect on my emotions over the last couple of weeks, and what I’ve found is both frustrating and enlightening.
A common misconception is that depression means you’re sad. I’ve heard other people give the advice of “just get over it and be happy.” Ok cool. That’s like telling someone with anxiety to “not worry about it.” Your advice has just solved the world’s mental health problems and I will just be happy and not worry about it. I wish with my entire soul it was that easy. Over the last few weeks I have noticed a shift in myself that I was trying to ignore. I started losing interest in activities I used to love, like working out. I didn’t want to have any social interactions, I was always tired, and I felt my moods shift drastically from being ecstatically happy to feeling like I have a pit of blackness inside my body. Being on a self-discovery journey gives me the opportunity to reflect and analyze the way I feel and why I might be feeling that way.
My therapist let me know he thought I was having a depressive episode, and expressed concern for my well-being. He immediately suggested looking into medication, but I am resistant to jumping to conclusions without trying alternative methods. I think I was choosing to ignore what was happening and the downward slide because it was easier to live in a bubble of denial than to accept the truth. Being told I have depression is not much different than being told I have anxiety, but for some reason it had a greater impact on how I viewed myself. Instead of focusing on where to go from there, I decided to dwell on the fact an external source was telling me I was sad (not a productive way of thinking).
I also feel a sense of guilt for being depressed, which I know sounds weird. But many people in my life that have dealt with depression have experienced a tragedy, and I don’t feel like I fit into that category. I feel like I don’t have a reason to be sad. Sure I have a lot of life stressors that I’m working through, so in my mind my anxiety is in a way amplifying my negative emotions. It’s also not ok to compare yourself with other people. No two people experience the life in the same way, because we were not built as robot replicas of one another. I just need to stay focused on not drawing those conclusions, rather put the spotlight on my own experience and process.
Since my therapy session I have been trying to force myself into participating in activities that I love. I spent Saturday working on some art projects and cooking, and Sunday I made myself go outside and workout with my dog. Sure today I don’t feel a lot different, but like anything in life it’s a process that takes time. Isn’t the saying that the best things in life are worth waiting for? Only time will tell if that is true. The one thing that I haven’t lost is hope. I am hopeful that through the process of challenging myself to change and grow, that I can change my behaviors without the need for medication. Similar to anxiety I believe that my mind can heal itself, and in the event that is not true I will seek other interventions. Right now it’s time to stay in a positive mindset and start the process of healing.