Wow! Day 2 and I already wanna stop, haha! I won’t, though.
I wanted this writing challenge to go perfectly. Not only because anxiety and perfectionism go hand-in-hand, but also because journaling is truly my favorite thing to do and I wanted to show I could do it well. Plus, journaling is one of the best mental wellness tools.
I’m someone who prides herself on doing “the work.” Meaning, the work to improve myself. I love therapy, I’m my therapist’s favorite patient (although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing now that I think about it…). I’m an avid journaler (obviously). I’m constantly thinking about how to be a better, more healed human being. I listen to podcasts about psychology and being my “highest self.” I go to church and I only follow those Instagram accounts that give you the little daily motivation quotes. I read self-help books, I meditate, I’m learning about chakras and tarot and ayurveda. I’m the friend most likely to ask you, “How does that make you feel?”
But sometimes, the work is a lot of well,…work! And it doesn’t make me feel good. In fact (surprise!) constantly working on myself sometimes makes me feel bad.
All work and no play makes life suck. Don’t wait til you get “healed” to be happy.
I learned in therapy that a big source of my depression is shame and guilt. I feel guilty for not being productive, for not doing “the work,” and ashamed for not being my most evolved, perfect self. I always thought the opposite of “shame” was “pride” or “success,” so, I attempted to do things that would make me proud of myself (or would make others proud of me, honestly). I would actually try to work harder to get out of my mental slumps: More podcasts, more books, more journaling, more healing.
But of course, when you’re depressed, working on anything is impossible, even working on yourself. Sometimes, I don’t even have the energy to wash my own ass. And the failure to get stuff done and the failure to heal myself only made me feel more ashamed. And that of course made me more depressed.
Some of the best advice I received this year during my down days was to “spend less time trying to understand my childhood trauma’s and more time doing the things that actually make me happy.”
Now, I think the most annoying, unhelpful, condescending thing someone can say to someone with depression is “Have you tried just being happy?” No shit. But constantly focusing on my depression and trying to solve it was actually hurting me. And my friend could see it. He spent a lot of time with me during my lowest days and while he saw me doing all the “right” things to feel better, he didn’t see me doing things that actually made me feel better.
In fact, I was avoiding the things that actually put a smile on my face, because I felt I didn’t deserve to do them if I wasn’t doing the more “important” work of healing all the things that are wrong with me and my brain.