Beyond Coping

It’s been awhile. After my last few posts I got some comments from people, mostly people concerned about my welfare because I was really honest about how I was feeling at the time. If you haven’t read those posts, here’s the short version: everything is shit, this process is shit, I’m shit, we’re all shit. Basically everyone was like whoa, are you okay? TOO HONEST, REWIND. I really didn’t mean to sound like such a debbie downer, but I was also just feeling really low and didn’t want to lie about it. This is my blog, of of course– if  I can’t be honest here, then where? I was quite taken aback by the responses. Many people suggested I see a therapist, some people tried to convince me that what I was feeling was only temporary, a few people tried to compliment me and tell me I’m a good person. Most of it felt really intrusive which I know is stupid because this is a PUBLIC blog and I share intimate details so of course people are going to be intimate in their response. But I felt a bit intruded upon and embarrassed because I got to vulnerable, too open. 

I spend a lot of time in the dark. I am clinically depressed, and have been for a long time (since I was a teenager). And most of the time I manage on my own, just like I do with my anxiety, just like I have with my “disordered eating” or whatever you would like to call it, just like I have with my self harm. I try to use my tools I’ve learned in therapy, or if it gets really bad I’ll take prescribed medication. But it is still always there, and sometimes it gets bigger than me and I lose myself. That is my normal. And I forget that people think  that’s weird and sad, partly because they don’t really get what depression and anxiety actually look like, how it really feels to be depressed and/or anxious. I think many people think that depression is just being sad, usually about something specific– so if you just focus on being happy, and get over whatever thing you’re sad about, you’ll feel better. But I’m not sad about any one thing, in fact I’m not even really sad. I’m actually lots of things. Angry, irritated, numb, lonely, flustered, grief-stricken, about nothing and everything. People feel the same about anxiety, like when you’re anxious it’s about something specific in your life and if you just face it head on, you’ll be fine. I’m not anxious about a test, or that one project at work, or about saving up enough for that car I’ve always wanted. I’m literally anxious about nothing, or everything. And my anxiety can sneak up on me without me understanding how or why.

I think the biggest problem with this way of thinking is that it implies that I have absolute control over my anxiety and depression and so any pain I’m in is my own doing, that if I just tried harder I would feel better– and if I’m feeling like shit, it’s my own fault. I also think that people are really uncomfortable when you are honest about how shit you feel. I think that people are willing to listen to you be sad or upset or depressed for a a limited amount of time, and then they expect you to be done. It’s the same way with grief– at a certain point people begin to get annoyed with you when you’re not over the death of a loved one, because how dare you make us uncomfortable with your sadness! Why are you not back to being happy already?!

The truth is, I’m not done with depression. It’s not going to just go away because my friends and family want it to. And I’m not going to pretend it isn’t there, that I’m not affected by it on a regular basis. However, I think it’s important to also note that I still feel happiness, and contentment and a whole host of emotions because I’m a human being, and that even though I suffer from mental illness I still recognize the ways in which I have a truly great life that I greatly appreciate.

My life is great. Also, my life is shit. I think that with my depression and anxiety it’s both at the same time. I’m learning to accept that paradox.

One thought on “Beyond Coping

  1. Kim says:

    I love your honesty! I struggle with depression and anxiety and likely disordered eating as well. My friends and family do not get it either. Your last paragraph is the best. I wish someone not affected could read that, and understand what it really means.


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