Depression: Is "Should" Keeping You Stuck?
Please note that this is only one account of depression, and that this post is not intended to explain every individual's experience. It is not my intention to dismiss or alienate those with different experiences from my own. I want to acknowledge that depression is an incredibly complex struggle and while I hope that my insights help those who read this, I also understand that others who experience depression may not resonate with my perspective.
This past year I experienced depression. Not depression where I felt "down" for a few days. Not depression where there's some obvious issue in my life that just needs to be dealt with...
Depression - where I had days that I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. Where I felt like I was drugged and my cells were weighed down with rocks. Where, day after day, I couldn't properly justify why I wasn't okay. Where I felt so hopeless and helpless that I questioned whether I would experience a lasting zest for life ever again.
I remember how much it scared me when someone told me that I just shouldn't feel this way. I'm in a new city, on a new adventure, with new friends, an easy job, lots of time off, and no stressful obligations. I thought they were right.
This is when the disempowering thoughts began to grow. The belief that something is wrong with me. I shouldn't feel this way. I should feel that way. I should be excited, I should feel motivated, I should want this or that...
But the common thread in this type of thinking is that it stems from obligation, comparison, and expectation. It causes us to believe something is wrong with us based on how we think we should be living or feeling.
What if nothing is wrong with you? What if the only thing wrong, is that you think there is something wrong?
What if someone told you that the way you feel is completely valid? What if the way you feel is completely necessary?
My entire perspective of myself and my life shifted when someone said this to me, while I was experiencing depression:
"Congratulations. I think depression is one of the most beautiful experiences a human can have. You are exactly where you need to be right now."
This made me question everything. I had been told by two therapists that I was probably clinically depressed. Mentally ill. And honestly, I felt mentally ill. I felt there was no logical rhyme or reason as to why I was depressed except that I was ill.
But what if considering depression as a mental illness is part of the problem? Inherently, this implies once again that something is wrong with us. We shouldn't feel the way we do.
Maybe the best way to move through depression is to see it through a different lens. Depression is a gift. It carries with it a message, and it's our job to listen as closely as we can.
We are so caught up in all of the things we should do, the things we should feel, and the things we should want. We intellectually determine who we should be and how we should live, but we've lost touch with the ability to listen to our innermost yearnings.
Maybe depression is our innermost self crying out and finally saying ENOUGH!
Enough with living the way that we believe we should be. We've done it for long enough, and while those beliefs still operate, something in us is uncompromisingly forbidding it to happen any longer.
So maybe depression is the confusing, debilitating wake-up call to stop living according to all the "should's." It's keeping you in bed until you reconnect with what really makes you want to get out of bed. What really makes you come alive?
As long as you continue to believe the "should's" that repeat themselves in your head instead of accepting and listening to yourself in the present moment, you will stay stuck.
We aren't broken. We aren't ill. We are experiencing a profound recalibration on some level, and it is our job to honour and listen to ourselves more than ever.
Trust yourself, and trust that this is exactly where you need to be.