My first great realization of 2017 is that I have depression.

Wait, you say, didn’t we know that already?

I have depression… and I always will.

It’s that simple. And yet, it’s that complicated. I have depression and I always will. That sentence itself sounds depressing, no? You may want to tell me something like, Don’t give up! You can feel better! It’ll get better! And while you’d be right, in a way, you’d also be missing the point, as I did for so long.

I have depression and I always will.

What that means is that the trajectory of my moods, my capabilities, my willingness to get up and get going… All of that is going to be affected by depression for the rest of my life. But not uniformly.

Forever, but not always.

For me, depression is cyclical. You may experience it differently, and it’s not my place to tell you what depression is or should be for you or anyone else1. For me, depression is months where I can’t return every message I get because… I just can’t. It’s weeks of being so tired, but never sleeping soundly. Without medication, it’s anger; so much anger, at everyone, everywhere, all the time. It’s being functional but running at 65% capacity.

I have depression and I always will.

The great realization comes in two parts: I will always have periods where I feel like this. But, I will not feel like this every day, every moment. I will have good times and bad times. Sometimes, depression loosens its jaws and lets me climb out for a while. It’s complicated. It feeds on so many things: My natural predisposition, my current circumstances, the seasons. It is kept manageable by others: Medication, therapy, exercise, and gentleness.

Accepting that this will always be the case does not mean that I believe it’s hopeless to fight. It means that I recognize that sometimes, depression is going to surface, and that’s not a personal failure. It’s not because I’m not trying hard enough. It’s not because I failed. Depression isn’t something I can work my way out of forever, and while that may sound horrible, I honestly find it a little bit freeing.

If depression is with me no matter what, then it’s something I can learn to work with. I can accept it without indulging it. I can remove a lot of the shoulds from my brain and accept what will be.

Accepting what will be is not one of my strengths. I am forever looking to improve, upon everything. The only thing I’m remotely satisfied with is my dog, because she’s perfect. Everything else could be just a little bit better at all times —  most of all, me. But when it finally sunk in that depression will always be here, always, in one form or another, I had to accept that ‘good enough’ might finally have to be good enough.

I have depression and I always will.

In addition to being depressed, I am a Slytherin and a Scorpio. While both of these things are made up identities, the fact that I identify with them still tells you something about me: I exist in comfort with some of what is dark. I am not a “good vibes only” kind of gal. For me, pretending that the darkness isn’t there is what allows it to sneak up and swallow me whole. Acknowledging it, massaging it, manipulating it, and using it allows me to be the master of my traits, both good and bad.

Bring me your bad vibes and we’ll turn them into strength.

  1. Although I have now taken classes on mental health diagnosis, I am not a licensed social worker yet.