Depression Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Happy

I want you to know that depression doesn’t keep me from being happy. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but when we remember that depression is simply a mental illness, or in other words, sickness that occurs in the mind, it makes sense.

I have an undiagnosed medical condition that has prevented me from being able to eat normally. Although it can be serious at times and it means my eating habits widely differ from those of most people, I am overall fairly healthy. The same is true with my mental illness. Although I may have long periods of darkness when I see little light or hope in life, I am overall happy.

In fact, I am one of the happiest people I know. Even though I think about suicide sometimes, even though I still struggle with desires for self injury, even though I sometimes cry for hours at a time for no real reason, I am incredibly, undeniably happy.

Here’s the thing, life is incredibly difficult. There are hard things, painful things, things that make you want to cry or scream or even stop living. But there are also beautiful things, amazing things, things that make you want to jump up and down and shout for joy and sing your heart out.

I feel those things, all of those things, the good and the bad. Because I have autism, I feel the world around me more than most. Because of depression, I feel emotions within me more than most. Because of my life experiences, I am more acquainted than most with pain and beauty, suffering and peace, destruction and ugliness.

So I struggle with the noise inside of me. I struggle to reconcile the explosions of joy that I feel with the craters of hopelessness that I experience. I struggle to make sense of this beautiful, crazy, heartbreaking world we live in.

But I want you to know that though the depression returns, though my suicidal thoughts may not disappear, though I wade through depths of darkness and hopelessness, I am happy. My depression does not leave me desolate. I still have joy. I still jump up and down flapping my arms because my body cannot contain the excitement of my happiness.

Yes, I may be depressed, but depression does not always equal sorrow. I am still happy.

Forgive Yourself

Do you ever insult yourself for doing something good? Criticize yourself for helping someone out? Degrade yourself for trying to be happy or make someone else happy?

This is my daily reality. A constant barrage of self hate and degradation with the occasional word of encouragement that maybe this once I really did do something good.

I’m desperately trying to learn how to be kind to myself. It is difficult to change the way you see and talk to yourself after so many years of pain and hate, inflicting what I thought was justice on myself because I was unworthy of mercy.

Every time I think of it, I just want to hug myself and say, “It’s okay. You’re a good person. It’s not your fault they didn’t understand. It’s not your fault they yelled at you for trying to help. It’s not your fault. You did your best.

“Chewie… Please forgive yourself… They didn’t know how much it would hurt you or how guilty it would make you feel. They didn’t know that you would torture yourself for your mistakes. They didn’t know that by telling you not to do something, you understood that you were a bad person.

“Please forgive yourself. You do a lot of good. Forgive yourself for the times when you were trying to do good and were yelled at or told you were wrong or made to feel like you were a bad person. Forgive yourself for being good and then maybe you can forgive yourself for the times you are not so good.”

I wasn’t planning on posting especially about this kind of thing so close to the holidays, but tonight I just needed to feel like I’m not so alone. I don’t know if anyone else understands, but maybe this will at least give you a glimpse of why it is so hard for me to see the good in myself.

Depressed vs. Depression

What is the difference between feeling depressed and having depression?

The difference is, when you’re depressed, you feel better. It might be a bad day or even a bad week, but you get over it because it’s just the situation that hurt you. When you have depression, it’s not just a bad day or a bad week. It’s not something you can just get over or ignore.

Depression is a sickness. It’s not based on a situation. It’s a state of mind. You don’t just have a bad day or a bad week. You don’t wake up the next day, after crying yourself to sleep, and feel better. You wake up the next day and the day after that and the day after that, and you still want to die. Everything goes perfectly and life is amazing, but you still want it to end. You want the pain that shouldn’t exist to end.

And you don’t get over it and you will never get over it until the depression goes away. And there’s no good explanation for it. And you try to convince yourself that it will be okay, but you can’t because it isn’t and it won’t be, at least not now. You don’t just feel sad; you are sad.

And it’s a sadness that cuts you to the core, that permeates the very essence of your being. And you forget what it’s like to not feel this way. And you forget that life has ever or could ever feel any different. And you drown in yourself. And you try everything to get out.

You spend time with people, and you exercise, and you eat healthy, and you try to make yourself useful and serve and help others, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change you. It doesn’t dispel the darkness. And you drown again because you don’t understand what you’re doing wrong.

And that’s the problem with depression. The problem is you think you’re doing something wrong, and maybe everyone else does too, but you’re not. You’re not doing anything wrong, and it’s okay.

It’s okay to be depressed. It’s okay to have depression. It’s okay for your normal to be most people’s worst day. It’s okay to want to die, to want the pain to end. It’s okay to be unable to function normally for a while.

I say it’s okay, not to suggest that it’s good or that you shouldn’t want to be better, but to say that when you’re sick, you get better. When you’re hurting, you don’t have to hurt yourself more. You don’t have to degrade yourself, or hate yourself, or put yourself down for feeling this way. It’s okay to be sick, and you will get better.

And when you find yourself depressed again, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression again. It could just be a bad day. But if it isn’t, and it doesn’t go away, it’s okay. It’s okay to be kind to yourself. It’s okay to love yourself and take care of your brokenness. It’s okay to have depression just as much as it’s okay to have a cold. It’s a sickness, and you will get better. It will be okay.