You Don’t Have to Validate Your Depression With How Bad Your Life Is
I’m having a bad day.
Everything feels blah. I don’t really want to do anything, nothing sounds like fun. Except maybe lying down in a cool dark room under a blanket and sleeping for approximately 16 hours.
Hello depression my old friend.
I’ve struggled with chronic depression for most of my life. It came to visit early in my teenage years and then decided to hang around because I am such a warm and inviting hostess. For years, I didn’t really understand that I had depression. All I knew was that I felt miserable a lot. And I also felt guilty.
Guilty, because I didn’t really feel like I had a good reason to be sad. Guilty, because other people “had it worse” so really, I should be grateful for how good my life was. Guilty, because I didn’t understand why I felt so sad and so stuck, unable to just get on with my life.
Now that I know that what I have is a mental illness that isn’t my fault, I feel less guilty and less like a trashcan person. But old habits die a difficult death and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to shake the guilt entirely.
Depression is an illness and it doesn’t care about things like how much money you have, or how good looking you are, or how great your job is, or your level of privilege.
The thing is, on a logical level, I don’t believe that anyone has to validate their depression with how bad their life is. Depression is an illness and it doesn’t care about things like how much money you have, or how good looking you are, or how great your job is, or your level of privilege. It just doesn’t. It wants to find a house to haunt, and it doesn’t particularly care which one it is.
But on an emotional level, when I feel myself slipping into a depressive episode, I find it hard to resist the temptation to look around at my life, asking, what’s causing this? Because I don’t like to accept that the depression just is. I want there to be a reason, something I can fix.
I see the good things in my life: A loving husband, roof over my head, supportive family, enough money to cover my needs, etc., etc. And I think: why the heck am I so sad, so empty, so numb?
Don’t I realize that I don’t have a right to feel this way, when things could be so much worse, when I could have actual real problems to deal with?
This is when I have to gently remind myself that it’s okay to be depressed, regardless of how good my life is going at that moment in time. It doesn’t make me a bad person, and I don’t have to justify it. I can just let it be, and it will pass.
And that’s the other thing about depressive episodes: they do pass. It’s always hard for me to remember that I won’t be sad forever when I’m in the middle of it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’m so impatient to be on the other side that I want to find a quick fix or a solution that will cure my sadness forever. But that doesn’t exist. Trust me, I’ve been looking for years.
So if you find yourself in a similar boat, here is your gentle reminder: You don’t have to validate your depression with how bad your life is. You are allowed to be depressed, whatever your circumstances. It’s okay. And you’re going to be okay.
I’m having a bad day. And that’s okay.
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Grace Moore is a writer from Washington. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and the occasional poem. She also writes articles on travel, mental health, writing, and books. Sometimes she’s funny, or at least that’s what her mom says. Follow her on Instagram @gracieawriter.