“Battling” depression 

I keep seeing things about the fight against depression, battling it, being a warrior, beating it etc… And it’s really annoying me…

As someone who has had depression on and off for many years at different levels, I do not relate to this.

Everyone experiences depression differently and if the battling narrative works for you then that’s fine.  My problem is with it being the only narrative.

For me, firstly, I don’t think I will ever “beat” depression. I think depression is as much a part of me as my faulty joints. Which means fighting depression is not something I will ever win and fighting depression is essentially fighting myself and my DNA. I have spent a lot of years at war with myself, I don’t want to keep fighting.

Secondly, it suggests that if you have depression, you are weak or you aren’t fighting hard enough. Which makes it your fault.

I have spent a lot of my life and a lot of my energy in denial about my depression. My most recent period of depression was foreshadowed by about a year where I was adamantly not admitting to myself that I was depressed again.  And this inevitably made things worse…

By accepting my depression and slowly integrating it into myself, I have found I am much more able to manage it.

When I tell people that I want to put things in place for the next time my depression is severe, I get told not to be so pessimistic, I have to believe that I’m cured etc. But this isn’t realistic. For most of my life I have been depressed, why would this just disappear? And my acceptance of this means I can plan, I can set up helpful routines and check ins when I’m doing better in preparation for when I’m not.  I can work with my depression rather than against it.

Working with my depression means noticing it.  It means saying ok, things aren’t great today, lets engage in some gentle self care, yay you made it out of bed, congrats… let’s pause for today and see if that helps make tomorrow easier.  It means noticing that I am being really irritable and instead of beating myself up about it, I can acknowledge that my depression is playing a role and to ease the irritability, I probably need to look at how I can ease the depression.

As I said, everyone has different experiences with depression and for me, accepting it as a lifelong part of me means I am more likely to spend my time and energy caring for myself rather than fighting myself.

5 thoughts on ““Battling” depression ”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your view! It seems that one of the main ideas about depression is that those who have depression can just shrug it off like an old ratty robe, when really it’s a part of you that needs acceptance. I found that, as you’ve noted, acknowledging it and interacting with it helps more than trying to ignore it and essentially fighting with yourself. I’ve read that some have gone further with this idea by giving their depression a name and interacting with it as though it was a person, which I find really interesting!

    1. When my anorexia was really bad, a friend named it for me and that was so helpful. It helped me talk to it and also made it easier to talk to other people. Saying I’m having a really bad anorexia day can be really tough, saying is raising her head is easier.

      1. It’s gorgeous that giving anorexia a name opened up a dialogue in your life. That’s so incredible. Makes me think about what else would be helpful to name.

  2. I completely agree with you too – accepting that my depression and anxiety is something I have to deal with everyday has been so hard but once I realised, it became much easier to manage rather than fight. I’ve been chatting with a young colleague at work recently who is at the beginning of his depression experience and it made me realise that in approaching it as something to ‘nuture’ (for lack of a better word, perhaps reframe?) in myself, I actually have so many more tools for helping myself and getting through it. Its hard to explain that to someone else deep in the hole though, which sucks.

    I’ve totally noticed other people thinking its disappeared (nope) or told me not to be pessimistic about how I manage it, and it is frustrating for sure. I think perhaps its something you really do have to live with to fully understand it though…

    1. I think if you can accept it, you can start to look after it as if it was a broken leg or something. If you don’t, you’re fighting against it and are all like noooo, my leg isn’t broken, look i can run a marathon and then your leg gets worse instead of better. It is hard to accept and especially if you’re “new” to depression. In some ways, having had it on and off my whole life makes it easier to accept because time has very much shown that it will resurface at some point in the future even if it’s eased off for now.

      Some people, and the mental health service can be guilty of this, have been really awful about accepting it. Like telling my worker that I know it’s going to get worse at some point led to a lecture about positive thinking and not expecting the worst… It was frustrating cos I was asking for help preparing and planning for a major depressive event at a time when the depression wasn’t so bad so I was able to do the advanced work… *eye roll*

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