Keep a journal. Even if it’s just a record of what you did that week, or that day, if only so that you can pull it out later and see how things have changed.
When I started this blog I was severely depressed, I was in a job that I hated, and I felt disconnected from people around me. I re-read that blog entry today and had that alien sensation of not remember being that person who wrote it. So much has changed. Several aspects of my life have changed for the better, but the big step that I needed to take was getting medication.
Depression can happen when your life circumstances suck, but it can also happen when you have a lot of good things going for you. Of course, when you’re depressed, acknowledging all the good things in your life only makes you more guilty, invalidates your sadness. I remember thinking, I have no right to be unhappy. I have so many privileges and luxuries in my life. I am pathetic and ungrateful for feeling this way.
Being on the other side of this years later, I realize how irrational that is. But depression is irrational. It’s wonky brain chemistry, and I began to realize this when I did everything right – worked hard at my job, socialized, exercised, ate decently, forced myself to work on creative projects – and I was still feeling miserable. It wasn’t me, it was a chemical imbalance.
When I started this blog in 2013, I didn’t think I’d live to see 24. I didn’t want to see 24. Being in that state of hopelessness is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and I wish so desperately that 26-year-old me could go back and tell 23-year-old me that it’s going to get so much better, to keep holding on, one day at a time. jAt some points in life, that is the only way to keep going.
I feel so lucky to have what I have now. I know that I will have hard times again, and I hope that when those times come, I can return to my journals and my blogs and remember that I was here at deep despair before, and I will be there at happiness again.
I don’t take antidepressants anymore, but I now know what it feels like, and I know that if I needed to take them again to feel normal and rational again, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back on them. The stigma of mental illness is still prevalent, although it’s getting better, and there are so many excellent articles and essays on mental illness in general for those outside of it. I would deeply recommend Hyperbole and a Half‘s comics about it. She hits the nail on the head: