Growing up, I always felt things very deeply. Sad things were always very sad, followed by long periods of apathy. I get excited very easily, but being excited took a lot of energy from me. Happiness seemed fairly constant looking back. However, my happiness was never as deeply felt as my sadness.
It seemed like nobody understood me. I would never accept invites from others, even if I was free. Eventually, people just stopped asking. When people stopped asking, I just felt that others didn’t care. I didn’t leave my room, I didn’t talk to anyone, and sleep became a good friend of mine. That is until I met Her.
About five years ago, I met my friend, Depression. She wasn’t supportive; she would always tell me to stay in instead of hanging out with friends, and she often times made me feel terrible about myself. It’s easy to say that she is not a very good friend. But, she’s there, and she’s not going anywhere. Although you usually get to pick and choose your friends, she is not one I picked out of the bunch.
Before I continue on with my take on depression, I'd like to disclaim that I am in no way a mental health expert. These are simply my thoughts from my personal experience, which I would like to share in case someone out there has a similar circumstance.
When people consider depression, they tend to associate it with who one is as a person. They tend to think a person embodies depression as a whole. I was always very guilty of this, but I found it made it worse. Am I really an anti-social, pessimistic, isolated person?
No. I’m not, and I have never been until I met my friend. The way to overpower this mindset is to recognize that I am not my depression.
She is simply a “friend” that has an input on every decision in my life. I can tell her to shut up when I want to. I can listen to her when I want to. However, I am not her. It is easier to swallow the idea that I am a happy, optimistic person with high hopes for the future with a fairly influential pessimistic friend than it is to think that I am just a depressed, apathetic person. That’s not me.
I know a lot of people out there are also friends with her.
To those people out there, do not let her define you. She is simply an accessory to your life, and it is your choice whether or not you are consumed by her. I’ve read a lot of articles about depression, and all of them are very relatable. However, many of them fail to acknowledge what I have found to be the most relevant details about my case of this mental illness.
Happy people can be depressed.
Depression, for me, is not synonymous with sadness. Depression is not crying in bed after a rough day. Depression is not the “what if” questions you ask yourself at night.
Depression is who blacks out the sunshine on a beautiful and bright day. She is the extra tall person seated in front of you while watching your favorite movie. Depression covers your ears when someone tells you they love you.
For me, my friend is simply a hindrance to happiness. She is the barrier between me and the good in my life. How would you feel if you were unable to appreciate the things that make you happy?
I am happy. I have a family that I love that loves me back. I have a beautiful life full of wonderful people. I have a mind that has the potential to change the world. I have a home and food on the table. I have a passion that I am pursuing. I just happen to have a friend who makes me really have to fight to acknowledge that sometimes.
My friend will be there when I graduate college. She will be there through all of the tough breakups. She will be there on my wedding day and when I have my first child.
We’ve all been asked, “If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump too?” I reword this question every single day to help battle my mental illness.
If my friend is sad, do I have to be sad too?
If my friend wants to stay in when I’m free, do I have to stay in too?
If my friend wants to waste a beautiful day napping, do I have to miss out too?
The answer is always no. Although some days it is harder to decide than others, I do not live my life based off of the ideas and thoughts of Depression.
For those who share this friend of mine, you don’t have to either.