Life has been shitty for me for a long time.
Depression, instead of giving me a break for any length of time, chose instead to be an obnoxious guest, crashing on my couch and putting the empty box of Froot Loops back in the cupboard without telling me before I went grocery shopping.
Right now, things are better. Nowhere near perfect mind you, but better. I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity to work for a friend when I needed the extra cash, my company finally landed a large development contract I had been chasing for two years, and I have a great family who are supporting me while I get back on my feet. I still have plenty of things to work on, but right now, there are less obstacles than there were.
This isn't meant to be an allegory to prove I should always "Hang in there because things will get better" or "See? Good things will happen if you work hard enough." For someone with chronic depression, these moments offer up only temporary moments of light to be followed by darkness, too soon for me to rely on as a solid foundation for misplaced promises of eternal optimism. Too often, depression strikes whenever it damn well pleases. I can be at the height of my game when I'm suddenly brought low, only to have to start all over again.
This is an acknowledgement of a moment in my life that I tend to hide. I hide it because I fear if people see I'm doing "alright" - even for a moment - they will be quick to dismiss the seriousness and authenticity of my situation when I invariably stumble and fall once more. Some people become frustrated by my circular circumstances, and I don't blame them. "But you have been doing so good," they say. "Just repeat what you did the first time and things will return to normal for you." Others want me to "get over it", as if it's a cold that has passed and I'm looking for attention. I will be depressed again. It's not a thing I'm planning. It's a thing that happens, whether I want it to or not, and believe me, it's a big "not".
Unfortunately though, this tendency to hide when I'm doing better, and sharing only when I'm not, threatens my ability to find purpose in my life. By not openly acknowledging the positives as they happen, I inadvertently dismiss them. I refuse to celebrate my accomplishments for fear of drawing attention to them, an act which can later be used against me. I disregard a valuable part of me that makes me whole - the good enmeshed with the bad.
I believe that for me, being brave is not openly sharing my struggle with others, no matter what they might think. It's openly declaring my successes when they happen. I will never be "great", but I want to get stronger, and to do that I need to be whole.
Life has been shitty for a long time but right now, I'm doing OK.
This essay was published on The Mighty on September 25, 2017.
Image from Pixabay ( https://pixabay.com/en/man-silhouette-sun-shadow-2445457/ ) under CC0 Creative Commons licence.