I know I’m not the only person who’s been in this position, and maybe you are reading this because you’re here too. Basically, I am doing great; I finished school, have settled into a job I enjoy, I have a beautiful place to live, and wonderful friends. I have every reason to be happy- but deep down I’m not.
I have depression. I have been formally diagnosed at several points in my life, and I’ve yet to see it completely disappear. The subtle waves of depression rest under the surface, breaking through at the most unexpected moments. One moment I’m contently watching a movie or reading in bed, and the next I’m staring blankly at the wall contemplating my unhappiness. I’ll make grand plans to fill by days with healthy habits and productivity, only to wake the next morning too emotionally exhausted to get out of bed until it’s time for work. I have no reason to be tired, and I have no reason so be upset, but I am.
High functioning depression is annoying because it seems so benign. I can still go to work and run my errands. I’m still remembering to feed my cat, do the dishes, and shower, but I am not myself. I am going through the motions of living as if I’m playing a part. I’m not truly motivated to do any of these things, but I’m also too tired to dispute them either. I’m running on autopilot because it’s easier than making the decision to crash. There are some days I can even convince myself that I’m fine: I feel a little better, more energetic, more present in my own life, but even on those days I feel the depression hiding just out of reach.
It’s easy to forgot that mental illness don’t need a cause. I don’t have a reason to be depressed, because the cause is the depression itself. I can acknowledge how fortunate and privileged my position is and still acknowledge my mental struggle. Disease, including mental disorders, don’t discriminate. I have to remind myself of this each time I start to punish myself for my “pointless sadness”. This is my reminder to myself, and to anyone reading this to be kind to yourself when you are struggling. Yes, it’s easier to be depressed when things are hard and life is rough, but depression doesn’t magically go away when times are good either. Depression is an illness and needs to be treated like one. Things are going well, but I still have depression. That doesn’t mean I always will, and it doesn’t mean you always will either.