It’s been a tough year or so of depression. Most days it feels as if I am operating beneath a heavy weight of sadness, social anxiety, and general lack of motivation.

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As a usual overachiever, my indifference toward the world is alarming. I find myself bursting into tears at my desk. The future looks foggy and uninteresting.

And yet… the veil may be lifting ever so slightly. I don’t want to get too hopeful. Being depressed doesn’t mean you never feel happy. I have fleeting moments of excitement – good nights out with friends, laughing at a funny TV show, finishing an assignment at work. But this feels different. There’s a faint glow of hope many miles away. It looks (and feels) more permanent.

I think I deserve it. I’ve been fighting the dark side on multiple fronts: developing a regular workout habit, examining what makes me happy, meditating, seeing a therapist. What has helped the most is admitting my pain to friends and family. I have more support than I thought.

I’ve also started thinking hard about my future. What do I want to accomplish in this life, and what do I need to do to get there?

I noticed the change in one of my favorite yoga classes. I was covered in sweat and stretching my body longer than I thought possible into a deep standing back bend. If I opened my eyes I would see the wall behind me. But I kept them closed, focusing only on my balance. The soft voice of the instructor guided my breath in the background.

And then, for a split second, part of me became unshackled. I felt as though I was lying on the floor of a dark ocean when bits of sunlight began to dance along the water’s surface and puncture down toward me. Could I swim up to the surface and exit my depression?

To my own surprise, I had another visceral reaction, telling me no. Not because I couldn’t. But because I shouldn’t. I’m not done here. Here, depressed at the bottom of the sea I have been forced to examine who I am. I’ve uncovered ugly fears and admitted to dreams I have been too scared to chase. I have forced myself to take the first steps of planning the next phase of my career. And I have jumped off a safe cliff into the uncertainness of vulnerability in relationships with my friends and family. But it’s just a start. To swim up out of depression now would imply that I have gotten all I need out of this stretch of self examination. There is so much more work to be done.

I’ve realized that when you’re depressed or otherwise struggling (be it physical illness, heartbreak, other) it’s possible to harness the pain into growth. The road will be long. Vices provide exits along the way. But I want to use my depression as a foundation-builder. Instead of swimming up, I am diving deeper into self repair.

 

 

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