My generation is a fan of the labels or labeling something non label-able. I thought I was never a part of the club. Now, I’m not so sure that I’m not the president with all the rotating labels I had for myself cataloged alphabetically and color coded in my head. I took Labels like ambitious, benevolent, curious, dedicated and placed them on my forehead for the world to see how awesome I am. Yet, labels like anxious, broken, combative and the big one DEPRESSED seemed cliché and destructive; even though they’re true. I’m never in a constant state of any one label but at any time I am a combination of the above.
First Step to Recovery – Acceptance
Why has it been so difficult for me to admit it?
Somewhere along the way people looked to me as stoic. So I brought into the idea others had of me as being a level-headed, private fortress that was unfazed by the many obstacles and troubles the world offered me. The truth is that the “positive” labels has made someone who’s quite sensitive feel powerful. My introverted quietness and isolation are seen as independence and wisdom rather than as a result of burying difficult emotions in a difficult environment. I donned the labels that made me feel more than capable to take on the big bad. Brave, smart, strong, wise, mature, all code for someone who has their shit together. Someone who doesn’t need but go gets.
I put on that persona like it was shiny armor and I was Joan of Arc marching out into the unforgiving world. The armor has since cracked and dulled and I now realize that I’m just human. Wine won’t band-aid resilience that’s been repeatedly tested. A kiss from the love of my life, walk in the park, favorite show…nothing seems to help. And after a few weeks of coming home and crying in my bathtub over a glass of Cabernet that’s filled with more tears than wine, I finally realized, oh fuck…I’m depressed.
What Does it All Mean
Depression, much like sexuality, is a spectrum. At some point any one of us will experience it. This certainly isn’t my first rodeo with it. I mean, hell, I’ve even been through a Quarter-Life Crisis. This particular phase, however, is mixed like a top shelf cocktail. Grief, disappointment, struggle, depression with just a hint of self-loathing at the finish. Needless to say it’s this phase that I find particularly hard to shake. One minute I’m starting to hear the birds chirp with a peaceful feeling that everything will be okay; the next I catch myself staring up at the ceiling while Netflix has asked if I’m still watching for the past hour. So! What do yah do when you’re in the sunken place of depression? Here are some ways I plan to Daniel Kaluuya myself outta here.
Allow Yourself to BE Yourself
How much pressure do you put on yourself to live up to all the other labels that you’ve stamped on your forehead for the world to see? I get it. No one wants to claim something so dark and uninviting but the truth is, there’s liberation in admitting your reality. When I realized that I’d gotten into a bout of depression it was a relief because now staring at the ceiling and being unable to control my crying made sense with the appropriate label.
What didn’t help was reiterating that I was smart, strong, and dedicated on a constant lope in my head when the proper label was depressed. Once I allowed myself to be honest and clear on the state I’m in I was able to retrace the steps that brought me here. After a thorough review of those events, it’s a wonder that I didn’t find myself in the sunken place of depression a while ago. Knowing this allows me to truly see myself as strong and dedicated.
So I donned the labels that made me feel more than capable to take on the big bad. Brave, smart, strong, wise, mature, all code for someone who has their shit together. Someone who doesn’t need but go gets.
Think of what’s on the other side of your pain
Whether I believe the day-dream or not I still allow myself to envision my deepest desires for my life. Reminding myself that this long ass chapter shall too pass keeps me sane enough to make it through each day. Looking at the faces on the other side of my depression helps me to remember that my life is not only about pain but love and light in the relationships I have with all those who love me.
Walk it like you Talk it
I’m good for giving an impromptu pep talk. Encouraging, actively listening or in general counseling people through their anxieties/troubles. I’m fucking horrible at being in the reverse role. I’m still discovering that the early labels that created my armor didn’t leave much room for vulnerability or trust. I don’t trust people. It took years for my friends to earn my trust. It’s taking even longer for me to trust myself. One thing I’m learning day by day is that I have to allow others in. Attempting to fight the good fight alone is one of the ingredients that made up this depression recipe in the first place. Are you allowing those who love and support you to be there during this time?
It’s More like a Vacation
Being in the sunken place of depression is more like a vacationing spot. You won’t take up permanent residence here but it is a reminder that there are certain things happening in your heart, mind, and spirit that you need to sort out. Don’t get me wrong, depression honestly sucks, but the emotional growth and intimacy with others that I’m discovering here is truly amazing. While I don’t know how long this particular “trip” will last, I plan to discover ways to metaphorically sit back, sip on perfectly mixed cocktails as I allow myself to be myself, gaze at the greener grass on the other side of it and embrace the love and support those in my life offer me.
Your turn Builders, what are some ways you have gotten through a bout of depression (asking for a friend)! Comment below or Email if you need to talk.