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.