The Rest of the Picture

Updated: May 24, 2021

My life has more meaning and joy for the most part, but that does not discredit the moments when I feel the complete opposite. There are still plenty of times that I feel so low I wonder if I will be able to make it. Might sound dramatic, but that is honestly how it feels sometimes.

I think the best way to describe how I am doing is that I am much better on a conscious level but still really struggle on a subconscious level. It is like my body still remembers my trauma and is hanging onto it for dear life. I will logically know there is no reason for me to be triggered in certain settings but I still will be anyway. I feel this is almost more frustrating at times, it is like I am aware of my insanity but cannot do anything about it.

When I am in a good place I can see the progress I have made and not feel so overwhelmed by the work that still needs to be done. However, it takes just a few dark minutes to forget that all completely. So, even though my depressive episodes are continually getting shorter, I am still miserable while I am waiting them out.

It is hard for me to put into words my current struggles, it just hits a lot closer to home. Here is a recent journal entry I found that pretty accurately depicts how I feel in these low moments.

I am laying in my bed, exhausted, depressed, and happy to have an empty stomach. It feels good and I am not sure why. There is something inside me that thrives off of being sick, something that is fighting to prevent me from getting better. The problem with this is that when you have been sick for so long you don’t have the energy to fight it off for very long. Especially when it feels safe and easy to not get better. I have learned to downplay the fucked up thoughts in my head and now it is hard to tell which thoughts are irrational and which ones reflect my true inner self. I have been at war with myself for so long. I am tired of fighting, but in order to take care of myself the war must continue but with a different enemy. And I do not know if I am capable to continue fighting.

If you are sick, you do not enjoy life but you also cannot be hurt by it. There is no chance you will get too attached to any single aspect of life if you are too miserable to look up.

What do I do in these moments? I am constantly trying new things and I am open to other ideas as well. Sometimes I simply lay in bed until it passes. Sometimes I watch New Girl for hours on end. Sometimes I am able to productively work through what I am feeling.

Lately, my mantras have been, "I will no longer associate with those who do not allow me to be myself" and "I choose to be angry rather than be depressed." I wrote them on my mirror as a cheesy reminder to channel my depression into anger and to stop trying to impress those who do not matter. Anger tends to be viewed negatively, but as I have talked about before, it is an action word. Anger is a huge step in recovering from past trauma. Do I want to be angry all the time? No, not at all. But when I am having a prolonged depressive episode, I try to channel it all into anger. It is a new tactic I am using and so far it seems to be helpful. Sadness is necessary but I do not think that depression is. Constantly being depressed is making me a victim rather than a survivor.

This last statement is not meant to shame anyone who is depressed, it is just something that helps me. There is a level of depression that no rational reasoning can pull you out of. You have to have at least a semi-solid base to be able to talk yourself through a depressive episode. My base has been getting stronger and stronger the more I figure things out, which continues to make it easier for me to do more work. I was put on some medication at the beginning of the year which has also made my base exponentially stronger. This has allowed me to have the ability to really start applying the things I have learned in therapy. Apparently, I have mood stability issues. Who knew? Before I was on this medication the recovery process felt a lot more slow and painful.

My hope in sharing this is to more accurately paint the full picture of recovery. I am doing better overall but it can be quite exhausting to stay better. I think this needs to be talked about more.

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