I feel sad today. Sometimes it just feels good to say that and for that to just be okay.
Sad is just one of my many feelings, and I actually feel really blessed that I can just feel it with no judgment. The rest of the world is not always so easy about accepting it. A long time ago, I stopped telling people I was fine when I was feeling something else. In reality, fine is not a feeling anyway. And when I’m sad, I guess it’s “fine” because it’s a perfectly normal human emotion. But, because other people don’t want to see me sad, they often try to advise me on how to make it go away. I know they do it out of kindness or their own discomfort with emotions, so it’s not a bad thing. They mean well.
I struggled with chronic depression for a lot of years, and it’s probably why I self-medicated with alcohol. It’s the chicken and the egg thing. Which came first? The first great advice I got from anyone on my depression came from a therapist I had in Michigan. He told me that when I am depressed, I should just accept that I am down. Perhaps there’s a perfectly good reason why I feel down. He asked me what happens when I try to fight it and change the way I feel. “I feel worse,” I said. “I get sadder.” The other thing he told me to do was to get 20 minutes of exercise. So, I had a two step plan:
1. Accept that I’m down.
2. Get 20 minutes of exercise.
I loved it! No more judgment because I feel sad. I no longer had to think about all the other people who had it worse than me. That always made me feel worse anyway because it just gave me more unfixable, depressing world problems to worry about. I don’t even need to figure out why I feel down. I can think about if I want to, but its not part of the two step plan. I could let go of trying to think of all the great things I have in my life which make it unthinkable that I would feel down. That just made me feel guilty (again a depressing feeling) because I was not grateful enough for the joys in my life. It was just a downward spiral, and I now had a choice to not go there. It was so freeing!
I don’t suffer chronic depression anymore because I gave myself over to a process of personal and spiritual growth that cleared out a lot of baggage from my past. I personally feel that was a big part of my depression. However, I also believe that depression runs in my family. I believe there is a genetic disposition to it. I think that depression is a complicated, unique illness that has a variety of causes and cures, so I don’t try to advise people about how to fix it. I only know my two step process that works for me.
Sadness is not the same as depression. And, today, I just feel a bit sad. And, I really believe that feeling my feelings and accepting them allows them to pass. If I fight them or stuff them or rationalize them, I just go into a downward spiral. So, today, I took a long nap, took a walk and just took care of my own personal needs. I hope that I will feel better tomorrow or later today. If I don’t, well that’s okay, too. I have a plan.