When you’ve dealt with debilitating depression and finally feel out of the worst of it, it’s surprising how easy it is to forget what it felt like in the middle of it. It’s very easy to forget the details of your story and even to downplay them. Slowly, your narrative turns to just remembering it as a bad time. You begin to forget that it wasn’t just a bad time, that it was in fact a strongly debilitating, stagnant time that almost destroyed your life. That’s what depression does. It takes over and throws your life dangerously out of whack.
But when you are feeling better, it’s easy to forget this.
And that’s what I want to speak with you about today. I don’t want you to forget. I want you to remember. I want you to remember down to the minute details of how your depression affected your life. It’s so very vital to your continued recovery and your ability to be happy with your life.
Without this remembering, you will be tempted to start seeing yourself on the same playing field as everyone else, holding yourself to the same standards. You’ll begin believing that the amount of effort required to reach their results should have been the same for you. And you might even begin to buy into that story that if you’d only tried harder, you would have overcome your issues and maybe you’d even be further along in life.
Especially when you have big goals and aspirations, which many people who suffer from depression do, beating yourself up for how your life has progressed is really easy to do.
But it’s not fair at all.
What I want you to remember is that you were doing the best that you could. Your stops and starts, ups and downs and seemingly insurmountable odds had so much more to do with how your mind was processing life at that time rather than any lack of effort or laziness on your part.
“Especially when you have big goals and aspirations, which many people who suffer from depression do, beating yourself up for how your life has progressed is really easy to do. But it’s not fair at all.”
And yes, you may have heard things like:
“Apply yourself more.”
“Just stick with it.”
“Keep trying and don’t give up so easily.”
“You have to at least try.”
Even things like:
“It’ll work out eventually.”
“You just have to stay positive.”
“Everybody has bad days.”
And upon looking back, you may be tempted to believe that all of those things were true and that if you’d just ‘something’, you’d be further along now. You’d have been able to accomplish your big goals back then despite your depression and anxiety.
But know this.
It’s simply not true. Your depression was real. It is real. It did have an effect. It did exist. And it did hold you down and back. It did sit on your life and suffocate your joy and hope and happiness. It did that. You didn’t do that. Your depression did that. YOU on the other hand are courageous. YOU continued to have hope, no matter how small, even as it was being strangled almost to death. YOU allowed yourself to be helped and pulled out of the spiral of depression. YOU made that decision, however small and timid it began. YOU did THAT. YOU should be commended and celebrated and awarded for reaching THAT goal.
For that is not an easy goal to attain. That’s one that even the most determined, goal-oriented person you can think of would have challenges attaining in your shoes. The obstacles you’ve had to overcome have been many. They’ve been obscure and they’ve been difficult to pinpoint. They’ve been elusive and they’ve been unclear. And yet you have still triumphed. You are still here on the other side of them, living so much more closely to, if not already in, a life that feels good more than it feels bad.
“YOU allowed yourself to be helped and pulled out of the spiral of depression. YOU made that decision, however small and timid it began. YOU did THAT.”
This is why I want you to always remember your story. Remember that your depression wasn’t just a small thing that you let take you down. It was a huge monster that dragged you down. And you triumphed still. Be encouraged. Be proud. Be bold and boastful about where you are in your life. You deserve that. You are a champion!
So today I had a health assessment and let's just say that it was a little bit overwhelming. Finding out truths about yourself that you were secretly afraid were true but were trying not to admit is a little unbecoming to say the least.
What’s helping me today is realizing that I’m allowing this thing to mean something that ultimately boils down to invalidating me. I’m allowing this occurrence to make me question my value and place the decision maker outside of myself. And although that’s so easy to do, it’s never the right thing to do.
You really have to get to a point in your life where your sense of value is maybe shakable but never breakable.