You are Allowed

I have often wondered about the best way to describe depression to someone that doesn’t struggle with it. I have never found quite the right words to explain the magnitude and depth of the experience. The best I’ve come up with is: it hurts to be alive. Physically continuing to exist is painful. There is pain in your heart and weight on your soul and staying alive during this time is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I have felt this omnipresent pain and I am hurting again just writing about it. It’s too close, too real.

These bad periods have left a permanent mark on me. They affect the way I talk and think and remember and feel. I am haunted, both by the memory of these times and by the knowledge that they will come again.

Whether you have depression or not, I’m sure you can reflect on the most painful experience of your life and agree that you would not want to repeat it. You would probably do everything in your power to avoid it.

I do, too.

I can always feel myself beginning the downward spiral. I notice it like you notice your hand on a hot stove. When I see it coming, I run away from it. I refuse to acknowledge it, I refuse to tell anyone about it, I refuse to spend any significant amount of time noticing it’s existence. I continue with my life as if every breath is not becoming increasingly painful. I push it away until it becomes strong enough to push me back.

I am traumatized by my depression. I am never ready to face it again.

A few months ago I had a friend reach out to me for help. She told me about her trials and what she was scared of. She echoed a sentiment I have heard countless times: that she was embarrassed and guilty that something seemingly trivial was causing her such emotional turmoil.

I told her what I tell every single person that comes to me with their challenges: your emotions are valid.

I think we kind of learned, as a society, that there are certain ways we should feel. When something bad happens you should feel sad (but only if its significant enough) and when something good happens you should feel happy (as long as that doesn’t upset anyone else). We have taught ourselves that, depending on the situation, only certain emotions are acceptable.

If you want to feel something, you better check the emotional guidebook first.

I am here to tell you that that is so incredibly false.

I have depression. I can literally get suicidal over chemical changes in my brain. Nothing actually happens, I just get sad. What is more trivial than that? If I am allowed to be depressed over nothing, you are allowed to be sad about nothing and everything and anything. Conversely, you’re totally allowed to be emotionally stable during particularly gruesome trials. There isn’t a tear quota you have to fill or an anger meter you have to rise to.

The significance of an event does not legitimize your feelings, and the insignificance of an event does not negate them. You do not need to justify or explain your emotions. You do not need permission to feel them. No matter the situation, your emotions are valid.  I firmly believe that this is true for every single one of you. I am working on applying that to myself as well.

I have found that being accepting of all my emotions brings me more happiness. The past few times I have felt the downward spiral begin, I have looked at it head-on. I accept that some nights I am just going to hurt and there isn’t a whole lot anyone can do about it. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to just be sad than it is to forcefully attempt to push the sadness away (while in reality still being sad). Instead, I allow myself to feel negative emotions, and then I allow myself to heal from them.

This new process has made my depression so much easier to manage.

Accepting the validity of my emotions is the kindest thing I have ever done for myself.

I am begging you to be kind to yourself as well. Allow yourself to be happy or sad or angry or scared. Don’t run from those feelings, embrace them. Let them touch you and teach you, and then, once you have grown from them, I can assure you that you will be more than capable of moving past them.

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