There are several symptoms of depression that can make life challenging. Whether these impacts are on our physical health, our mental health or something else, you don’t always know how these symptoms will impact you in your day-to-day life. After years of living with depression, one thing I’ve come to realize is that my experience with depression has a massive impact on the way I see the world. And even though this impact has done a world of good in some areas, it has a negative impact in others. Today, I’d like to reflect on an unintended impact of my depression that I’m hoping to shift my thinking about.
Depression has challenged me in many ways, but one symptom that I’ve always wrestled with a lot are the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that can develop and persist. Years of learning these feelings, naming them and trying to manage them have taught me a lot about combatting these feelings, but I’ve also grown comfortable with them. I don’t enjoy these feelings and they aren’t necessarily easier to deal with, but I’m less afraid of them than I used to be.
However, years of experiencing these emotions has led me to doing a lot of thinking about purpose. When my depression made me feel hopelessness or despair, my instinct was to find purpose in everything I did. And early on in my journey with depression, purpose was a difficult thing to define. Every moment had to be important; everything I did needed to help me live a better life, free of depression.
Years later, I’ve started to see my mistakes in this approach. This type of thinking wasn’t helping me manage my depression, and put pressure on everything I did. But since I thought this way for years, I’m still dealing with those effects. Every time I do something, no matter if it’s big or small, there’s a small voice in the back of my head asking why am I doing this? What’s the point?
Sometimes, the point of something isn’t all that hard to see. This week, I went to a few fun events and after enjoying them, finally had a lightbulb moment: sometimes the point of having fun is that it was fun. There doesn’t need to be deeper introspection, or wondering how much enjoyment I need to get out of things. I have learned and grown in the way I manage my depression and even though I still feel the impacts, I am better prepared than I used to be.
I know there are many more unintended consequences as a result of years living with depression. There is plenty I’ve learned about myself, and I know there will be new things I will learn as well. But I’m hoping that this awareness will make these challenges a little less scary or surprising. Depression has impacted me in many ways, but I will continue trying my best to get to know myself and grow in the way I handle it.
Has depression ever impacted you in a way that was surprising or weren’t expecting? Let me know in the comments below!