A Reflection on Depression

Sometimes, depression takes. It takes things away from you, and you feel empty. You didn’t even know you wanted some of these things. But depression puts those things out of reach, making you feel less than once again. Depression doesn’t care what your plan is, or what your goals are. Your timeline is irrelevant in this scenario. All that’s in front of you is a long, painful, endless moment, as far as you can see.

We don’t always see what depression takes. Our vision can become blurry, or our brain foggy. Memories might go missing for a short time; moments you might have enjoyed vanish out of thin air. What was simple then is difficult now. What makes sense in one moment is impossible to comprehend in another. Our minds wander about all the time, but we’re under the false impression that this can only be in a positive way. When it happens in a negative way, our mind has betrayed us. What was once a safe haven is now a space we’re afraid to explore.

We don’t choose depression. It chooses us, it selects us, it casts its invisible hand out and taps us on the shoulder when it wants to come out and play. Sometimes the explanation is as plain as day. Other times that hand seems to reach out of the abyss, stunning us with its timing and cutting precision.

We get tired of depression. We hope the pain will end, we wonder when will the long night be over. We wonder how long it will go on, and feel helpless in its stead. We think that maybe this time is different, that it feels more manageable in this moment…until it doesn’t. We get frustrated that depression seems to have outsmarted us once again. We outlasted it once, we’ve beaten it before, why is it coming back yet again? We’re one foot out of the boxing ring, but depression wants to fight another round.

We’re not always up to the task of fighting our depression. It can sap us of energy, make us feel tired and exhausted. It can feel like an endless moment, like we’re in a room feeling for the light switch on the wall. It’s right there and we know it exists but we can’t find it, moving our hand along the wall endlessly. It feels like it will never end.

But we do learn from depression. We learn about the way it takes shape within us and around us. We learn how it impacts us, what our reaction is to it and the best ways for us to manage it. We learn that it ebbs and flows; that it has happened before and it will happen again. There’s good reason to be fearful of this fact, but there’s comfort there as well. We’ve been through the dark before, and we’ve come out into the light. We’ve grown stronger, we’re better prepared. There’s hope in what we’ve learned.

There’s a lot we don’t know about depression. Oftentimes, we’re left with more questions than answers. But there is power in pushing on. There’s power in moving through, in understanding ourselves in a better way. There’s also power in resting when we know depression has gotten the better of us. And that is my lasting thought in these moments, in these times when depression gets the better of me. I feel helpless, but I am not helpless. I feel powerless, but I am powerful. I’ve been through this before, but I’m a different person than I was before. Depression might take, but I won’t give. And in between these challenges, I will continue finding joy, hope and inspiration where I can find it. I will be better prepared when depression comes around again.

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." - Desmond Tutu

Calling Out for Change

TW: this post discusses suicide and suicidal ideation.

Before I write about a post that discusses suicide, I breathe a big sigh. I try to hold back my own personal emotions because I need to focus, but the shadow of depression hangs its head over me. Because this thing is so hard. It’s so hard to sift through all the feelings and emotions that come with learning the news that someone has died by suicide. There are a million different directions that news can take your brain and what you start thinking about. But after ten years of living with depression and having experienced suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation before, I get sad. Sad and frustrated.

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Writing Through Sadness

I put a lot of pressure on my writing. Sometimes writing about mental health is a release. It helps me express things I can’t say, and put into words a feeling or emotion I’ve had trouble explaining. But it’s also difficult, in many ways, to write when experiencing anxiety. In those moments, it feels like every word has to be perfect or flow naturally. But perfection is the enemy of good (I’m trying hard to learn this lesson), so I want to share a little of how I’m feeling at the moment.

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I Am Not My Depression

There’s a phrase I see a lot when I am scrolling through social media or finding mental health resources on the Internet that always gets me thinking. The concept behind them all is that you (or I, or anyone) is “more than” their mental illness. So for instance, I am more than my depression; I am more than my anxiety; I deserve to be known for more than experiencing mental illness. And while I do think it’s a helpful approach to shrinking the stigma, this type of approach – overcoming obstacles, “beating” mental illness – is still difficult for me to manage. That’s why I want to offer an alternative phrase to use today, and see how folks like it.

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What Does Depression Look Like? More Than You Think

Recently, I came to terms with the fact that I’ve been experiencing a tricky bout of depression for the past month or so. It wasn’t easy to spot, and even though I’ve lived with depression for almost a third of my life, I couldn’t recognize it for a long time. However, it took putting some dots together (and a very patient partner who gives as much support as she can) for me to realize I was living under a fog of depression.

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Five Reminders For When You Feel Restless

In the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling a little more restless than usual. I’m not sure what’s brought on these feelings, but I was able to recognize that they’re something that can be dealt with and managed – just like the symptoms of anxiety and depression that I experience every day. I haven’t discovered my go-to techniques and activities for dealing with restlessness, but I have learned a few things that have helped me overcome these feelings. That said, here are five reminders for when you’re experiencing restlessness.

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What It Means to Be Thankful When You Have Depression

After writing about gratitude earlier this week (including my tips on how to have a better relationship with gratitude), I thought more about Thanksgiving. Specifically, I reflected on the word thankful and what it means to me. Thankfulness and gratitude don’t come easy to me, and I know there are plenty of people who it doesn’t come to either. Over the years, I’ve learned some things about thankfulness and living with depression that I’d like to share this Thanksgiving day.

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What Is Clinical Depression, And What Does It Look Like?

Note: This is a guest post I wrote that previously appeared on Prairie Health’s blog.

As someone who has lived with clinical depression for almost a decade, I’ve learned a lot about what depression is, what it means to me, and how it looks in my day-to-day life. One of the most important things that’s helped me manage my clinical depression is to do research on what it is, why it’s different from other forms of depression, and what that means for me.

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A Chance for Reflection: Sharing My Journey With Depression

I can’t underestimate how much I enjoy talking about mental health. It’s one of the few times in my life where I feel free, my brain isn’t going a hundred miles per hour and I’m able to speak honestly on a topic I feel comfortable talking about. A few weeks ago, I accepted a chance to be a guest on a mental health podcast and talk about my journey with depression, which is something I’d never done before. The experience taught me not only about the importance of sharing my story, but the growth I’ve experienced in my mental health journey.

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Why I Always Make Room for Mental Health Improvement

Over the years, I’ve learned a number of methods and techniques to manage my depression and anxiety. Some of those have worked very well (meditation and talk therapy), while others haven’t been as effective (I’m hoping to come back to journaling one day, but it’s not soon). Either way, I’ve learned a lot about what’s helpful for me on my mental health journey, and used those lessons to continue building my mental health toolkit and growing more certain in how I manage mental health. But as I’ve learned recently, there’s always space to find more ways and improve that relationship with mental health, which is what I want to talk about today.

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