How are You Feeling?

I feel like a psychiatrist, notepad in hand, asking you that question as you lie on a couch. Very stereotypical. I have definitely never had the urge to lie down during therapy. The couch wouldn’t even be that comfy.

Today has been an interesting day for me. The day prior my dad and brother spent the night at my humble abode. I haven’t seen either of them since the Fourth of July, and my brother I won’t see again until Christmas, which I have yet to fully comprehend. We had Chinese food, drove with no destination in mind, took a random walk, watched The Big Lebowski, and spent a long time just talking about whatever. I loved every second. I even woke up early that morning, worked out right away, wrote up yesterday’s blog post, and started organizing my stuff for my upcoming dorm move-in day. I was in such an energized mood, full of life, and it was an amazing day.

After bidding the guys farewell early this morning, I felt myself definitely feeling drained. My overall focus and energy were low, with much less clarity and interest in today than yesterday. But in ways, I was expecting it. No matter who I am with, I tend to need time to myself to recharge with my own thoughts. I’m a poster child for the introverted personality type.  And I’ve learned more about myself, I can recognize the patterns of my moods and the time I need to be my best self, so when those awesome opportunities and days do arrive, I’m prepared to embrace them.

Now in most cases, and even often today, I want to just blame my depression for whenever I notice myself feeling lower because it’s the easy excuse to use. I don’t want to offend anybody in saying that being depressed is just an excuse because I experience this disease every day and know for a fact it is valid. My focus here is when I choose not confront any emotions when I have the option of calling everything a symptom of depression and not really embracing my feelings.

Admittedly, I’m someone that automatically bottles up my emotions. I’m someone that doesn’t handle confrontation well because I can’t digest and react to situations in that moment. I need time to myself to process everything before returning to them and acknowledging things in a calm, thoughtful manner. But because I handle emotions this way, I have a bad habit of walking away from something uncomfortable or upsetting and pushing it to the background of my mind. I even forget that something even bothered me until I have so many bent up feelings, I end up bursting, referencing issues that occurred a while back. I think with therapy I’ve gotten better at that, or at least going back to problems WAY in the past that I never openly thought about that much to avoid discomfort. Sometimes you have to dwell in those moments of uneasiness to then realize that those feelings happened, good or bad, so I know how to handle them in the future.

So in this day of feeling physically and mentally tired, over the course of the day, I’ve noticed myself really analyzing what I’m feeling, which even a few months ago, I probably would have ignored. I realize now that even though I do feel empty and melancholy today, I can make decisions that take care of myself. Often in life I have played the victim card when life is difficult and things don’t go my way. It’s no secret I can have bad luck, and that obstacles tend to cross my path on a regular basis. I think I was looking for pity, validation and approval from others that I was still capable of life and that my efforts were real and worthy.

Now I would much rather be recognized for my inner strength and resiliency in the face of hardship. That whatever life throws at me, I can figure out how to handle that, even it means admitting that I need help and relying on the support of others. Everybody’s lives are different, and we all experience difficulties. It’s inevitable. There’s no reason to isolate yourself under a dark cloud of dreariness when you don’t have to.

Even though I’m having a hard day, I’m trying to look at things from a different perspective. Instead of staring into nothingness for the day, I reached out to loved ones for words of wisdom. I made sure to feed myself plenty of awesome food. I took a shower. I prepared my week for the busyness of school that lies ahead. These may seem like very minuscule tasks, but they are a big deal to me. They show that I’m not willing to sit idly and wallow. They show that even though life feels hard today, I still have something to show for it. And some days that something might just be general functioning and self-care, and that’s amazing, too. Celebrate every accomplishment.

I have depression, but I am not depression. I now choose to not let depression define my life. I have a conscious mind and able body capable of remarkable things, and I want to use them to make the most of every day. Every day will look different and bring about a unique set of challenges. But I want to look back and know that I did my best. That I did not surrender to my instincts. That I’m a BA fighter who is no longer angry at life, but grateful.

From this rant, I hope you know that you are so much stronger than you realize. That when people compliment and encourage you, they truly mean it. Life is too precious to waste it away in a fog. Let yourself feel all of your emotions. Look forward for the best yet to come. Clear skies are just around the corner.

Take care, and keep the faith. (I mean it.) -Allie


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