“You are not your depression”
She said these words to me, and I haven’t been the same.
They struck me. Not just the words but my immediate, intense, knee-jerk reaction: of course I am. Of course I am my depression, this is it, who I am and what I feel–what I battle–all the time.
She wouldn’t let me have that.
Since she said those words I’ve been forced to confront the stories I tell myself. It’s a harsh truth.
I’m lonely and depressed. People think I’m strange because I love my dog so much, because I have a dog and a cat and no partner. Life isn’t fair. My mother died when I was twenty and I will never be okay, I will relive this pain day after day until I die. I will come home and cry if even the faint hint of a thought of her, of family, enters my mind.
I will repeat this same cycle, feel swallowed by this same pain, every day until I die. Depression is not something I asked for, it’s something that has found me, and followed me, and won’t leave me alone. This is how it is.
With her words she helped me see these stories that I tell myself, these things that feel permanent and heavy and unchangable. She contradicted me, forced me to consider other possibilities. She said it’s not me, it’s not who I am or what I have to be.
It’s hard to see the things other people see, to contradict what you feel, to see what you might be able to know.
From the outside looking in, I have a great job, I love it, I have pets who bring me joy, I have family and friends who are amazing.
I could see these things differently, maybe people do see me differently, maybe they don’t think I’m pathetic and miserable and alone.
Maybe, but sometimes it feels that way, these feelings drown me and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything I can do.
For now I’ll try to be aware, try to recognize and acknowledge these stories that I tell myself, just witness that they’re there. Maybe one day when I’m stronger I can conjure up better stories to tell, I can see things,–and feel them–differently.