“Who are you?” For the average person, that question is probably a no-brainer. For those with depression, they might have no clue. That’s because to them, they are their depression. It is them. Depression consumes their every waking thought, so much so that there’s no room for anything else. They might listen to sad songs, post about their depression on social media.. Their entire existence revolves around it.
Want to know why recovery from depression is so daunting? Because recovery means having to let go of something. And when depression becomes your identity, letting go means having to let go of your identity. And when you have nothing else to take its place, you cling. You don’t want to rebuild. It’s too exhausting. You’d rather stay stuck. It may be painful, but at least it’s familiar.
I equate recovering from depression to recovering after a hurricane. It wipes out everything in your path leaving you with nothing and with no choice but to rebuild.
So how do you rebuild? You try. You take baby steps. You keep trying new (or old) things until someday, something sticks. Then, you keep building and building. And eventually, that becomes your new identity. You don’t need your depression anymore because you’ve found who you are without it, and who you are without it looks 1000x better than who you were with it. You’ll be like, “oh, you know what? I’m actually so much bigger than my depression. I’m my hobbies, my interests, my passions.” Nothing you are will have anything to do with your depression anymore. Once depression no longer takes up 100% of your mind, you suddenly have a whole bunch of room for other things to take its place. That’s what makes recovery so terrifying. What do you do with all this extra room you never had?
The choice is up to you. For me, it’s spirituality, writing, digital art; For you, it may be singing, cooking, community service.
It probably will feel very unnatural at first. You will feel tempted to revert back to your old ways because it’s a hell of a lot easier than having to do all the work of finding yourself. Don’t. Fight the temptation. Depression doesn’t have to be your legacy. There’s a whole other life out there and it might seem terrifying, but once you find and get used to it, it’s freaking beautiful. Welcome recovery even if it’s terrifying, even when everything in you is screaming to give up. Trust that all this confusion has a purpose. Do it even when you can’t trust it. Do it because there’s nothing else to lose. Do it because you know anything has to be better than the life you’re living now. Keep fighting because your life is worth it. It’s worth all the confusion, all the discomfort, all the exhaustion. Keep fighting because you deserve to get to know who you are underneath all that depression.