[Content Note: Depression]
Acknowledging to yourself that you are depressed and have a serious illness that is going to interfere with your daily life sometimes and that it's Not Your Fault and the illness can't be beaten by willpower and bootstraps can be very cathartic and helpful.
It can also open a whole new barrel of worms.
One of the things I've noticed in my fight with medication-induced depression is how Knowing I'm Depressed isn't some kind of magic bullet for treatment. And in fact sometimes it makes it harder. Because now when I feel sad for any reason, there's an almost panic that sets in. Why is the depression hitting now? I thought I was done with this? Am I not following my treatment right? Are the pills still in my system? What is going on??
It's hard sometimes to remember that non-Depressed people do get sad sometimes. Sometimes for good reasons, sure. But sometimes for no reason at all. Being not-Depressed does not mean you'll never get sad. Being sad does not automatically mean that your depression treatment has failed or that you're a lost cause or that you'll "never be normal again" or anything like that.
Everyone on earth is sad sometimes. But when you're grappling with depression, it can be hard to remember that. Every moment of sad can feel like this weighty failure on your part. Sure, you know you're struggling with depression. Sure, you're working hard to treat it. But now you feel sad and best case scenario, you've wasted a day on being depressed, and worst case scenario, you're a lost cause whose treatment isn't working who will be a sad Sad Person for the rest of your life.
That is bullshit. That is the voice of Depression, scolding you for having perfectly normal feelings.
Non-Depressed people sometimes get sad on their birthdays. They sometimes get sad on holidays. They sometimes get sad visiting their friends and family, even if they love their friends and family. They sometimes get sad thinking about an old flame, even if they love the one they're with. They sometimes get sad dealing with small, adorable children and/or fluffy animals. They sometimes get sad after a day at work. They sometimes get sad on a long Sunday afternoon with nothing to do and it should be glorious and relaxing but instead it's sad for no reason and what's wrong with you? Nothing is necessarily wrong with you. Sad happens, sometimes for reasons we'll never be able to know or see.
It's okay to be sad. I don't mean that it's easy. It's not easy. If you're sad all the time, then it's very probably not "okay" in a healthy-I-don't-need-treatment sense. (Though it is "okay" in a not-your-fault-and-could-happen-to-anyone-and-don't-feel-bad-at-yourself sense.) But if you're sad, even when you know you're struggling with Depression, it's important to remember that this is very possibly "okay". That you haven't wasted a day. That you haven't gone "two steps backward" in your depression treatment. That you aren't a lost cause. That you aren't destined for a lifetime of unrelenting sadness. Sometimes when you're sad, it's just a passing sad thing that everyone gets. And the best thing you can tell yourself during those times is "it's okay to be sad right now".
It might not be okay tomorrow or the next day or the next week or the next month. Maybe it's time to break out the diary and note down sads and happys and track a timeline in order to see what is working and what isn't. This isn't a post about ignoring treatment or sticking your head in the sand or minimizing depression because, hey, everyone is sad sometimes. That is not this post.
This post is to tell you that if you are struggling with depression, and if you are treating it, and if you have one day where you are sad for no discernible reason, you don't have to beat up on yourself for being sad. It's okay to be sad once in awhile. Everyone is. It doesn't make you a bad person, or a hopeless person, or a worthless person. It means you're alive. It may mean more than just being alive -- it may also mean that you need more treatment or better treatment or that you have triggers in your life that need identification and removal -- but it may not mean those things. It's good to keep an open, questioning mind and see what works and what doesn't, but it's also good to remember that sometimes people are just sad. Without any real reason at all.
Depression is hard to live with. Holding yourself to an impossible standard of No Sads Ever Unless There's A Damn Good Reason is not fair to yourself. Don't let the depression tell you that it is fair. Because it's not.
It's okay to be sad.