Often, we push ourselves to be ok, even when things are not ok. Instead, we should let up on ourselves and be satisfied with simply feeling what we feel.
Have you ever had one of those days when you wonder why you’re not ok? You know, one of those days where you look around, see what you have going for you, and still feel down or upset? Or perhaps you can remember a time when you thought that you should do something simply because your physically capable, even though you were an emotional wreck?
Welcome to my life!
I have often looked at myself and wondered why I was getting angry because someone couldn’t read my mind. Or I’d beat myself up for feeling “down and out”. Sometimes, I’ve even pushed myself to do things for others when I don’t even have time to do what I need to do for myself.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s good to help others. I mean, if you just take a few minutes to complement someone on their work, it could make their day/week/month/year… and they won’t forget to return the favour when you do a good job, too. Or if you’re good at baking but don’t know a thing about handyman work, you could bake some treats for your neighbour in exchange for some help with that leaky faucet.
Sure, even the smallest thing can really make a significant difference for someone. For example, I remember in junior high a classmate of mine invited me out to the dance floor for a slow-dance. I was flabbergasted! Here I was, feeling like the nerd that nobody wanted to have anything to do with, and this cute girl (although already with a boyfriend) wanted to treat me to a dance! For the sake of about 4 minutes, that girl really gave me a moment to remember!
But I digress. It’s great to help others, but there are times when you need to help yourself first. If you’re burnt out, you’re not going to be very easy to get along with, and your quality of work will suffer. If you take the time to recharge your own batteries, you’re much more able to help others around you.
How about when you think you shouldn’t be feeling what you’re feeling at that moment? I think this is really common for someone dealing with depression. In my case: What do I have to be depressed about? I have a loving and supportive network of friends and family and a nice, stable job (with great people) that I enjoy. Throughout the depression, I’ve even had the privilege to be with a lovely, beautiful, accepting, kind, and caring girlfriend, who loved me very much. I mean, come on now; there’s no need for me to be crying over anything like that!
That’s the thing about depression, though. If you’re going through a major depressive episode, you can often find yourself depressed about nothing in particular… just “depressed”.
I don’t mean in a way that you wish it wasn’t snowing, or that you had more fame or fortune. I also don’t mean in a simple “I wish things were better” kind of way. I mean in a “I’m not depressed about anything, I’m depressed about everything” kind of way. Sometimes that’s so strong that you don’t think anyone cares anymore, that life can’t get any better (or worse), and that things would be better if you just weren’t here anymore.
Logic can do its best to contradict depression, but it won’t shake it. And if you try to analyze why you’re depressed, you just get more depressed.
So what’s the trick? The trick is being ok with not being ok. For example, if you’re feeling too depressed to get out of the house, that’s fine. You have every right to feel what you feel, and you shouldn’t try to make yourself think or feel otherwise.
Of course you’d be better off if you tried to do something, especially if it pushed your limits. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up when you can’t keep up. Note how I said “when”, not “if”; because it’s unrealistic and self-destructive to think that you should always keep up with things.
Try as you might, even with all of the strongest support systems at your disposal (friends, family, medication, individual or group therapy, etc.), you’re going to have bad days. It’s part of being human, and it’s perfectly fine. A bad day doesn’t mean you won’t ever get out of this depressive episode (even though it might feel that way), it just means that it was a hard day for you. Or maybe it was a hard week/month/year… whatever fits.
I personally am going through a few bad months. Part of me blames it on my analytical nature; trying to identify the problem and work out a solution. But sometimes there isn’t a problem, and the analysis can actually create a problem from nothing. Let me tell you: That’s not good. If instead of analyzing a problem that didn’t exist, I spent that time “in the moment”, enjoying things at face-value, things may have turned out differently. But as the saying goes: hindsight is 20/20.
The same goes for depression. If you’re stuck analyzing why you’re depressed, instead of just letting yourself be and feel where you are right now, the depression’s not going to get any better. There are some things that you need to do to fight the depression, but most of that is simply “keep busy” and “keep ahead of the stuff that you need to do so you don’t feel overwhelmed”.
Regardless of what you’re going through or dealing with, nobody has the right to tell you what you should be feeling or doing. If someone tells you that you have a great life and you have no reason to be as upset/depressed about it as you are, ignore them.
You have the right to be where you are right now, today. Don’t force yourself to be somewhere else, because forcing yourself will only push you further away. Instead, accept where you are and go from there.