“It’s okay to not be okay.” ~Unknown
I’ve been depressed before in my life; very depressed.
When I was at my worst (more than once), it felt as though I was locked in a dark cave with no visible way out. Every way I turned led me to another cold rock wall that stopped me from moving ahead.
And then the exhaustion… how can you make it out alive when you don’t even have the energy to find a way out? I would curl up in a ball in my little cave and sleep for hours, so as not to face what felt like an impossible challenge. Yes, I’ve been there.
What about now, though? I eventually crawled my way out of that cave, but it took a few years.
I decided I didn’t want the antidepressants anymore. Although I wholeheartedly believe that medication might be the right answer for some people, I knew it didn’t work well for me (I tried quite a few).
I had to find my way by eating healthier and by taking care of my body, mind, and soul. It was not easy, but I know now that I’ll never go to that place again.
However, I’ve found that some days can still feel quite low. For a while this bothered me, and I would wonder if I was slipping backward into the mouth of my cave again. Yet I’ve known that my life has vastly improved from the days of my battle with depression.
I don’t say this lightly, because this is not something that can be measured with a test like cancer can. I know it by the way I smile, the positive thoughts I now have, and the health I feel.
Self-help books were my therapy. Integrative Nutrition school helped me find all of the nutrition education I wanted and more. I had help in many ways; I researched the heck out of positive psychology.
So what’s up with these down days?! Here’s my take: I think that everyone has down days and it’s completely normal.
I think that society has us programmed to believe that we’re not supposed to ever feel low, or be sad, or lose our cool. You know what I think? I think that’s totally wrong.
Sometimes we’re stressed out. Sometimes we lose a bet. Sometimes we get screwed over. Sometimes we lose a friend to alcoholism. Sometimes we get scared. Sometimes we make a tiny amount of money for way too many hours put into a project. Sometimes we run into the glass wall at the bank as we’re attempting to exit the building. (Who designed those, by the way?)
My point is this: it’s okay to feel low sometimes.
I recently took up mountain biking, and it has been quite the challenge. I live in the foothills of Colorado, so the big uphills are just as easy to find as the long downhills.
On my most recent ride I was struggling up a particularly difficult section and I was cussing inside my own head.
I was mad, plainly because it sucked. I forgot every piece of Zen biking wisdom I had learned over the last few months and I berated myself for my weaknesses as my lungs expanded for more oxygen that they would not receive.
As this section mellowed out, I continued my climb and found a peace of some kind as my legs slowly brought me up a few more miles of incline. Then it was time to descend.
Coming down is a different kind of challenge, but this time I was able to find a groove and enjoy the ride. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling, and the chipmunks might even tell you that I laughed around a couple of corners.
That was when it clicked for me. The struggle was worth it. The cussing had led to the laughter. Life has its ups and downs, and sometimes they’re extreme. The lows were not only just okay; they were necessary.
Like I said, I’ve been to that point of major depression—and that’s different. I needed much more help than just talking myself out of it.
But for those times that you’re just feeling low, no matter what anyone tells you, no matter how wrong you may feel it to be, know that it’s okay to feel down sometimes.
You’re not a terrible person for it. Just don’t let yourself get stuck there. Remember to open your eyes up wide and notice the laughter just as often as you notice the tears.
Above all else, love the lows. Thank them and be grateful for them; see how they help you grow. You’re right where you need to be, as we all are.
Crying woman image via Shutterstock