Earlier today, in response to a simple “how are you” text, a close friend shared that she was having some difficulty with feeling depressed and wasn’t having a very good week.
This wasn’t the first time this friend and I have talked about this—this periodic depression is something we have in common and know about each other.
I was immediately proud of her that she shared, since I know it’s so hard to do anything but hide away and hermit. It’s hard to reach out to even the dearest of friends, to admit that anything is going on.
I actually first wrote, “admit that anything is wrong.” One major struggle for me is qualifying feelings as “good” and “bad”. Feelings are feelings, even those that I don’t like feeling (anger, sadness, guilt). And not allowing myself to feel those feelings, because they’re “wrong,” is what drives my anxiety and periodic depression if I’m not careful. And then it becomes almost a physical illness—a feeling of intense heaviness, like demons have descended onto my body and are holding me down, refusing to let me do any of the things that I know will make me feel better: go for a run, pick up the phone, talk to my boyfriend, eat nourishing food, write in my journal, meditate.
So yes, I was grateful that she shared with me, that she wasn’t letting the demons sit on her chest and convince her she’s worthless. I immediately could conjure up the intense loneliness I feel when I’m in that state and the conflicting desire to be loved and to be alone because I’m not lovable. For me, it’s feeling so low that I don’t want to think someone else is thinking the same thing about me as I am. I don’t want to be a burden or a bother. I don’t want to project weakness or be pitied. And then I feel bad about myself for thinking those things when I “know” they’re not true. So the cycle continues.
But of course, I didn’t think any of those things about my friend. I only thought about her well-being, about hoping she’s ok, about if there was anything I could do to be there for her. I didn’t see it as a weakness; in fact, I thought it took a strong person to reach out like she did.
I know I can hold myself back when I project my own insecurities onto what other people must be thinking about me. I wonder sometimes how many times I will need to learn the lesson that being vulnerable is a sign of strength, through examples like these.
As I write, thinking about how exhausted I am from a pile of work and a few days of travel, about how much input I’ve had over the past few days without much respite, about how I’m adjusting to living with BF, about all the various things going on with friends and family… maybe I’m writing about this as a preventative measure. Because it’s so hard to pull out of the slump, I have to try to recognize the hazy shadow of those demons as they hide in the corners of my mind and stop them from descending. At the first signs of activity, I need to pull in my arsenal of rest and connection and exercise and nature and silence and meditation and writing before it’s too late. Giving voice to the potential for the demons to spiral down takes away their power.
Not this time, demons. Not this time.