That is, the weight of depression and mental health issues. Even as a sharp, insightful and emotionally intelligent human being, I admit that it’s difficult to fully understand the gravity of depression, anxiety, or mental health lows while you’re in them. That’s because it’s not all at once. It’s as if someone slowly dimmed the sun, to the point that the incremental changes are impossible to identify. But it happens over time, you see, and next thing you know, wherever you are, wherever you look, and to whomever you look, it’s a lot darker all around you. I was tempted to write that it’s harder to see the light, but, for the purpose of this analogy, it’s both logically and hypothetically incorrect. When everything around you becomes darker, it becomes even easier to see where the light is. But here’s the thing- once you’re in the dark, you adjust to it. When you see a light, it’s brighter and harder to look at because you’ve already acclimated to the darkness. The darker it gets, the brighter any light becomes. It can get to the point that it’s difficult to even look at. That means I sometimes have adverse reactions to the very things, places and people that I love the most because they are like pockets of sunlight in a dark room. They are a momentary reminder that perhaps something isn’t right with me, and that in order to truly enjoy and share in the light that they give off, I need to make some changes- which is an uncomfortable reminder for someone who’s only interested in staying comfortable.
So, for me anyways, the deeper I fall or the darker the sun gets, the more difficult it becomes to turn the lights back on. It’s not a matter of figuring out HOW to do it- that part is usually pretty apparent. I’ve probably gained some weight, I’ve probably been eating poorly, not getting enough exercise, my sleep routine is probably out of whack- some pretty classic telltale signs that I’ve slumped into a depression, especially when there’s more than one sign. For me, the challenge is simply making those changes. The motivation and the energy required to change certain habits, or interact with different people- it’s a lot, and is often a lot more than what a person who’s cozied-up in the dark and wrapped up in their warm depression is willing to expend.
Please don’t sound the alarms- I am okay, truly! But I feel like depression and the mental health issues revolving around depression and anxiety are not talked about enough. This truly is not me saying ‘help me, I’m depressed!’. Actually quite the contrary! I feel myself pulling out of a small lull. I definitely confess that some of my own habits and poor decisions contributed to the lull, but I’m happy to say that these last few days I’ve felt brighter, lighter, and more energetic. I think it’s important to break the stigma that surrounds mental health and talk more openly about the balancing act we all play with the many hormones and chemicals that influence how we live day to day. The recipe for happiness and achieving neutral mental health balance is different for everyone. This only further proves the importance of keeping those you love close to you. We need each other to lean on through life, and to remind each other that it’s worth the effort to reach out and hold on to the pockets of sunlight in our lives.