A few weeks ago, my mother texted my brother and me in a group text to tell us that she had just bought a brand new car. My brother’s response was that he had received a $100 bonus at work that day. Pretty significant things, right?
And what was I doing?
I was soaking in my bathtub, eating brownies straight from the pan, and watching Grey’s Anatomy on my Kindle Fire. Funnily enough, this is the only productive thing I had done all day, and well, it felt pretty darn insignificant to my family’s achievements that day.
You see, the week before this, I could feel a dark cloud hanging around me – something ominous – and unfortunately, something I knew all too well: depression. My depression episodes seemingly occur randomly, with only an eerie shadow in the distance to warn me of the impending doom. The thing that sucks is that there’s literally nothing I can do to stop it. I sit helpless as it envelops me and wait for it to pass. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes weeks, and sometimes months.
There’s really no rhyme or reason to it. But it comes pounding on my door, it knocks me on my ass, and then kicks me when I’m down. Most of the time it brings it’s partner in crime, anxiety with it too. So not only do I have zero energy to do anything, I also get to feel super anxious the entire time I’m pushing through and forcing myself to do things.
When I got those texts from my mom and brother, I didn’t feel envious, I was happy for them. Or, as happy as you can be when you’re batting down the hatches for the incoming shit storm of depression about to hit you. Instead it made me realize something: my achievement of getting myself into the bath to bathe is different than their achievements of purchasing a new car or getting a bonus at work, but it’s no less significant.
When you deal with depression and anxiety, everyday life is hundreds of times harder because you lack the energy and you just literally don’t see the point. You adopt a mindset of “why should I bother showering when I’m just going to have to shower again tomorrow?” or “why do I even need to pick up the living room when it’s just going to get messy again?” You become pessimistic and cynical because no matter what you’re doing, you still feel just as empty. You can’t quite find the right thing to quench that emptiness. Maybe you think, “I’ll watch a movie,” but then you find yourself blankly staring at the wall and not processing anything. So perhaps you decide to read a book, only to find you that you find absolutely no enjoyment in it. There’s a lot of trial and error with many activities, but you reach the same conclusion every time. When you’re living a life like this, getting out of bed, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and making yourself a lunch is the emotional and mental equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
So when important people in your life are doing exciting and significant things, like getting a promotion or getting engaged, or even starting a new job, and you’re still trying to find the strength to get out of bed, I want you to remind yourself of this: you’re doing the best that you can and you should be proud. Your accomplishments are still significant, no matter how small they may seem.
You’re still here. You didn’t give up. You consciously made the decision to live another day, and you’re trying. You’re trying to get better, and if you weren’t then you wouldn’t be here. You got out bed, you went to work, and you interacted with other people, even if it’s the last thing you wanted to be doing. And if you didn’t get out of bed this morning? That’s okay, too. Take the time to refuel and try again tomorrow.
It’s incredibly brave and strong to wake up and face your demons everyday. I’m proud of you, your mother is proud of you, and you should be proud of you, too. So what if others don’t see the significance of what seems like your minor accomplishments? What’s important is that you see it, and you feel it. So next time you feel like you aren’t doing enough or living up to the other people in your life, take a look in the mirror and say
“I AM DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN AND I AM PROUD OF MYSELF.”
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