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Don't Want to be Depressed...Even in Hindsight...

It's been interesting, realizing that I was definitely depressed. I wanted to deny it, compare it away...and I did for a long time. I knew that loosing interests was a sign, I knew that low energy was a sign. Irritability was probably a sign. For a while I was convinced that getting my thyroid treated would solve all of it. There were all these excuses and comparisons that robbed me of understanding. Maybe it was part of the depression, I don't know.

What I do know is that comparing myself to others, using others as my benchmark for my depression was a bad call. Even now I catch myself trying to edit myself, even in my own head. I want to say the things about me being depressed in a softer, less certain way. It makes me uncomfortable to face the fact that even if during the worst of it I was still trying to tell myself that others had it worse, therefore, I can't truly be depressed. As if that would magically fix how I was feeling.

The problem of comparison and looking to others runs deeper than the depression. At least, for me. I've talked about my need to people please, for others opinions to mean more than mine. I'm still working on that and I've made progress lately. I've started dismantling a big, deep belief that everything I thought, did or said was plain wrong so a) I didn't matter and b) I needed to solely seek out others advice because everyone but me had all the right answers. Basically I thought that I needed others to make decisions for me because there was a part of life I just would never understand. This lead to a lot of stress and emotional outbursts.

I'm not sure where this belief started, but I know it started early. A lot of the structures that I talked about dismantling last time, I feel, were coping mechanisms that helped support this. I must have structure and outside influence to know right from wrong. There was very little self trust.

The depression started later, and I'm not saying that I've been depressed most of my life. I don't think that's true, but, looking back, I think that I was depressed more than I realized. It was probably never long until the last few years. I'm pretty sure that I have been mostly depressed for the last almost 3-4 years.

Thing is, from what I've heard over the years, I've got depression and anxiety coming at me from both sides in my family. For most of my adult life I've known that my dad is clinically depressed. This has been my excuse for him not being there for me for a long time. It doesn't excuse the behavior, it gives me a better understanding. That being said, I wore it like a badge of honor that I hadn't been or wasn't depressed. It was almost a necessity for me to never be super sad for too long. It meant I was somehow winning at life, especially where my father was not.

When I was young, probably about hitting puberty since I was getting moody, I remember being told (maybe not in words) that maybe I should be medicated. Translation for me, which true or not shaped my mental health for years to come, was your emotions are out of control; you can't control them so you need outside help. I felt deeply ashamed of that, and though I was never medicated for it, to this day I still worry that if I express too powerful of an emotion that medication will need to be the shameful solution. Medication became the enemy in a way it should never have been. It does wonderful things for many wonderful people in the mental health sphere.

Seeing a therapist has been a bright spot these last few years. It's helped me unwind my tangled web of lies I've told myself for years. And the only reason that I even started was the sheer amount of overwhelm, sadness, and terror I felt once I got diagnosed with the BRCA2 gene mutation. Nothing to worry about in the here and now, but a hell of a lot to worry about for the future. I'm not sure that I would have even considered seeing a therapist without that catalyst since that was akin to admitting that there was something wrong with me beyond the physical.

I'm honestly grateful for the diagnosis because I needed to learn that it's OK to not be OK. It's OK to not have all the right answers. Life is weird, strange and practically never goes the way you'd imagined. Of course you'll be un-OK sometimes! Being able to know that something is off rather than comparing it away is a huge gift. We all lead different lives and have different thresholds for different things. No one but you can show you how to care for yourself. Others can help you find the way, but they cannot be your answers. This journey is yours alone to find the path, though there will be wonderful travelling buddies along the way.

Here I want to point out that I was never diagnosed as depressed; I am not trying to say mine was clinical. I don't want to belittle what clinically depressed folks deal with. It can be very crippling. I was relatively functional while depressed. I held a job, saw friends, and sort of carried on with normal life. I just lost a lot of my inner self to the crippling feelings of disinterest and mind fog.

So, yeah, I will say with confidence and a new-found view that I was depressed. It's OK. I am stronger for knowing, even when I feel sad or depressed again. Depression is not admitting something is wrong with me. It is admitting that I need love, support, and understanding, from both myself and others.

Show some love for your friends and family. They may need it more than you or they know or will admit.

with <3

—A Recovering Design Imposter

PS. This is my newest succulent. Which I've named Henrietta. It's been far more helpful than I realized to have plants to love and care for. Latent green-thumb gene has been activated!


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