I was reading an article about psychology a day or two ago, and came across this paragraph about how depression involves more than just chemical imbalances:
…if you look at the causes and risk factors for depression, alongside the biological stuff (neurotransmitters, hormones), you see things like “the death of a loved one,” “being homosexual in an environment that isn’t supportive,” and “chronic pain.” In other words, sometimes people are depressed because their lives are depressing. “
This was oddly comforting. Let me explain:
Sometimes I get discouraged about my brain chemicals. I feel sad for no reason, or struggle to find joy in life, or feel generally hopeless. With therapy and yoga and exercise and rest and support and good food I get through these spells, but they they keep coming around anyhow.
Last year during the #write31days challenge I told you about how I’d just started taking antidepressants to help me stay afloat, especially through the winter. And that DID help. But also I felt a little bit detached from my life, and increasingly lethargic (basically all I wanted to do ever was eat and sleep) so in the spring I switched to a different pill and that’s better but still, I hate that I have to take pills to not feel as sad, and I hate that sometimes even through I take the pills I still feel irrationally hopeless.
I often think, “Why can’t my brain chemistry just be ok already?”
But then I was reading this article and it reminded me that in addition to brain chemical imbalances, actually life circumstances can cause depression. So I realized that maybe I could have a little bit more patience and compassion for my brain, and stop beating it up for being grey and textureless sometimes.
Sometimes people say that if you’re unhappy you should make a list of all the good things in your life for which you can be grateful, and this is good advice. But also, maybe it helps sometimes to make a list of all the really rough and shitty things you’ve endured, so you can see that your brain isn’t necessarily broken, maybe it’s just trying to recover from getting the shit kicked out of it. Here’s my list:
(in the past three years)
– Left a secure salaried position, losing more than half of my income
– Moved across the country, twice.
– Additionally, moved from one side of the city to another. Twice.
– Sold my house, for $20 thousand less than I paid for it
– Fell in love with a church that promptly fell apart right in front of me
– Learned that the leader of the cult in which I was raised is probably a sexual predator
– Got divorced.
– Saw my parents get divorced
– Paid for buttloads of therapy
But here I am, and (today at least) I am happy, content, and grateful. Next time I feel all grey and hopeless, I’ll look at this list and instead of despairing of ever being happy again, I’ll remember how much I’ve survived, how much I’ve learned, how much I’m grown.
That still won’t make me feel happy, but that’s ok. I don’t have to be happy every day. Some days it is enough to be simply here. And fucking here I am.
This blog post is part of #write31days. This year I’m skipping out on a theme and going with ten minutes of unedited free-writing every day (unless I don’t feel like it, let’s be honest). You can read more posts from my #write31days by clicking here.
published October 19, 2016
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