A New Person

It has been about a month since I last felt depressed. Realizing that I am not a bad person had a lot to do with that. Most people who know me would probably think it is strange that I would think of myself as a bad person, but it was the one belief that overpowered everything else in my life. It influenced every thought, action, and relationship. It ruled my life for so long that I hardly even recognized its influence because I was so accustomed to thinking that way.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted off me. I feel free. I used to be so scared all the time. I was scared of doing good things because I felt like a bad person so doing something good seemed hypocritical. I was also scared of not doing good things because I did not want to be a bad person. I was scared of getting close to people or making friends because I felt like it was just a matter of time before they found out how terrible I really was.

Looking back, my thoughts seem so strange. They did not make any sense. How could I be a bad person if I did not do anything to be mean or malicious or disrespectful? How could I be so bad if all anyone else saw in me was good? I guess that is how mental illness works though. Your thoughts are not inline with reality. Your thoughts directly contradict reality sometimes, but at the same time, your thoughts are reality. The way you see and think about the world is your reality, even if it is not true from the outside.

Now, I can look at how I used to think and see the flaws. I understand how I came to those beliefs and why I believed I was a bad person, but it is still difficult for me to believe I felt that way for so long. I mean, you would think that I would have noticed earlier. You would think that I would have recognized that these thoughts ruled my life. I guess I did recognize it to some extent, but I did not know how to change it. I would tell myself that my thoughts weren’t true, but I didn’t believe it. I believed my thoughts, not whatever I tried to tell myself.

I am not exactly sure what finally changed my thoughts. I had been going to therapy for a few weeks, and we were working on recognizing mental distortions.  I sat down one night and drew out my life and realized how and why I came to see myself as a bad person. I talked to my friends about it, and briefly to my therapist. Then one day, it was like all the pieces fit together in my mind. I recognized the lie and saw the truth, but, more importantly, I believed the truth.

I have felt like a new person since that time. The world seems brighter, more friendly and happier. I feel at peace with myself and everything around me. It is like clouds of darkness that had been there for years finally dispersed, and I can see the sun again. The strangest (and possibly most wonderful) thing is how I see my past now. I used to see hurt and sorrow and loneliness in my past. There were good times in the midst of that, but my general feeling was that the past was too painful to remember. Now, I see so much hope and light in past experiences. Even in the darkest times, I see the brightness of hope that was just beyond my view back then.

I am the happiest I have ever been! I wake up every day with a newness of life! The world seems wonderful and amazing! I see the beauty in everything! To someone that has been depressed for the majority of my life, it seems like a fairy tale and I am waiting to wake up or climb out of a rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland. But this is real! The feelings are real because I have been freed from beliefs that weren’t real. It is not that I stepped into a better world, but rather that I stepped out of the darkness. I stepped out of a prison cell I did not know I was keeping myself in. Now I have a chance to be free, to find out what the world is really like without distorted lenses. I can’t express how truly excited I am to be alive now! The world is a beautiful place, and I am so excited to experience that beauty for the first time without anything distorting my view!

 

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2 Truths and a Lie

Truth- I sat in a class where we talked about substance abuse and drugs and alcohol and tobacco, and for the first time in my life, I thought maybe I should try that.

Truth- I posted on Facebook that I have been struggling with an eating disorder and drowning in depression, posting more and more about suicide because it sounds so good sometimes.

Lie- My friend asked how I was and I said okay, over and over again.

Why is it so hard to say the truth and easy to buy into the lies?

Truths About Depression

Life is so much easier now that I’m not stuck in depression anymore. Which has gotten me thinking about what depression really is and the misconceptions that surround it.

So here are some truths I have learned about depression that I hope others will understand:

  1. You can’t think yourself out of depression. My thought process did not change from when I felt depressed to now. I didn’t just make a decision to see the world in a new light and suddenly have depression disappear. It was easier to think positive thoughts once I didn’t feel depressed, but positive thoughts did not change my state when I was in depression.
  2. I don’t know what got me out of depression. I can’t pinpoint a certain event or a specific activity that ended depression for me. I know that therapy, exercise, proper sleep habits, vitamins and eating healthy foods, time with friends, and perseverance all helped me through that period of depression. But none of those brought me out of it.
  3. Life is harder when you’re depressed. I didn’t have more responsibilities while I was depressed or more demands on me or more stress in my life. Everything just felt harder. All of the normal everyday things that I can do easily now were harder when I was depressed.
  4. I didn’t make myself depressed or control how long it lasted. Although there are some things that can help delay periods of depression, if you have a tendency towards depression or a persistent mental illness, no amount of positive thinking can completely prevent periods of depression. I didn’t choose to be depressed. It just happened.
  5. Getting angry or frustrated or tired of my depression didn’t make it go away any sooner. Sometimes when you’re depressed, people tell you to snap out of it or just stop thinking negatively or that things aren’t as bad as you make them seem. None of these things are helpful or change the situation. Most of us yell at ourselves enough for not feeling positive. Other people yelling at us just prevents us from getting the positive affirmations we need to combat our own negative thoughts about ourselves.
  6. Last but not least, depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. For me depression includes suicidal thoughts, desires for self injury, and an overall mind fog that affects everything I do. For some people it’s more debilitating than that or more physically demanding or a number of other things. Depression is as different as the people who suffer from it.