Depression: why I celebrate mine, and on accepting who you are.
Without my depression I would not be where I am now. Without a doubt I would not be doing the work I do, I would not have needed to go on my own healing journey, I would not have felt the empathy or motivation to then translate that learning into helping others. I think it’s fair to say without my depression I would never have found my purpose.
But it wasn’t always this way. Oh no! For years my depression didn’t even have a name, in fact it didn’t even exist. I was just tired, or didn’t feel like going out, I didn’t feel like meeting people or making dinner, having a shower, getting out of bed. Of course not, I was depressed! But was I going to admit that? No way! I functioned pretty well. I always turned up at work, even on the days I dragged myself out of bed and ended up there again afterwards. I did a good job, I lost myself in the work and in the serving, I put on a smile and became a persona, I stepped up, maybe I even stepped out of myself a little.
Some part of me had chosen this work, knew it was good for me to get out of myself, be around people and be of service. I was kind, compassionate, I was fully engaged and present. I found the energy to do my work, and I enjoyed it. Then, often, I would go home to my bed. Sometimes my husband would phone and I would pretend not to be sleeping, a deep, dead to the world sleep, and he would wonder why I was being so vacant. He would come home and I would even lie sometimes: I had been reading or watching TV. I was ashamed of how I was living my life, but I still didn’t admit there was something wrong or that maybe, just maybe, there was something that could be done about it.
I fully believed my make believe! I believed I was just the same as everyone else. I had been found sleeping in one of the bedrooms, on one of the beds, at a friend’s house party. I had taken naps when I was meant to be babysitting. At one stage I was on anti depressants, at one stage I even had suicidal thoughts. But no, I wasn’t depressed. Even writing this there is a part of me that doesn’t quite believe it. I never declared it on occupational health forms, because I had never named it. I was just a bit stressed. It was just normal. I just had SAD syndrome, I just needed a bit more daylight. Depressed? Me? Nope! I was doing just fine, no help needed thank you very much!
In fairness I had no comparison. I had been depressed on and off since I was 17. I assumed this was what adulthood was like. My Granny had been depressed, my mother had been depressed, I thought everyone felt like this. Until I felt better of course, then I realised they didn’t. Then I realised people didn’t drag themselves through their day, didn’t feel tired and unmotivated, didn’t feel like not doing stuff.
I would love other people to realise they don’t need to feel like this, that it’s OK to accept where they are at, to stop denying it, to fess up to themselves about what’s really going on and that maybe they deserve more, maybe there is a different way for them. It all starts with the naming, the accepting of what’s really happening, without judgement, without beating yourself up for what’s going on. Whilst you are still in denial, you will continue to live as you have always lived. Get curious, ask questions, is this how other people live, is this what you want for yourself and is there a way out of this? (There is, I am the testament to that).
The turning point came for me when I could fully name and also accept my depression as part of me, not push it away, deny it, be ashamed of it. I can’t remember the last time it visited, but I accept that it may, and I’m OK with that. I accept that my last bout may not be my last. I also accept that this doesn’t stop me from doing my work: if anything it makes me better at it, kind of like an extra qualification. I can hold the space for people, I understand what they’re going through, I can genuinely say, ‘it’s OK, you can admit to this, it doesn’t make you less than.’ I have done a lot of healing and it is an infrequent visitor nowadays. Like a beautiful migrant bird, reminding me of where I have come from. I no longer try and shoo it away, I no longer call it names, a pest, a nuisance, I no longer accuse it of wasting my life. I embrace it, I nurture it, I thank it. I allow it to be, and it rarely chooses to stay long nowadays. A fleeting visit and whoosh, it’s gone. I think it’s all the love I give it.
Rachel Weber is an emotional healer for all different issues in your life, including depression. She believes in releasing emotions, limiting beliefs and memories from the body. You can find out more about how she works here.