I am the happiest depressed person you will ever meet.
Don’t kid yourself. I struggle. Every morning is a battle to get going. Some days I am flat emotionally all day long. I don’t pretend it is easy anymore. It’s not. Ever since the depression struck nearly a decade and a half ago, it’s been a daily battle. It’s hard work. Most days I win.
What does winning look like?
Some days it’s just getting up in the morning. Functioning well enough that my clients and friends don’t see the depression. They see good old reliable Tom who gets things done, keeps his promises and mostly seems OK. If I do it right, if my discipline is good enough, no one would know I fight the good fight each day.
Other days, it’s getting up and doing something special for someone. A client. A parishioner, someone I love, a stranger. It’s adding value to someone’s life. It’s helping someone else know they are not alone. It’s reminding people around me that it’s going to be OK, whatever it is. It’s helping people move from where they are to where they want to be. I am living proof that you can be a bit broken and still do good stuff for others.
Mostly, winning is using gratitude like a weapon. Reminding myself how fortunate I am. I live in a place I love, not a place I am stuck in. I have people to love and people who love me. I am warm. My bills get paid each month. Mostly, I live a life I love. I eat every day, mostly well (At least according to my standards, my doctor might disagree.). There’s music in my life. Color. Laughter (Lots of laughter). I have a lot of the stuff I love in life – time, creativity, love, faith) and little of the stuff I hate (paperwork, anger, worry.), I’ve made it to 63 in relatively good shape and good health. I have a ridiculously wonderful woman who manages to both accept me and challenge me. (neat trick, that.). I have a cat. I take each of those things and in my mind (and at times, when my depression is rougher than normal, I say it out loud.) I say “Take that!” and beat it back like a club.
If I have to push back against an unruly mind each day to fully enjoy it? That’s a small price to pay.
Depression is a battle. Medicine helps. Therapy helps. (I am a bit evangelistic about both.) But so does a good dollop of resentment and anger. Not against people or ourselves or circumstances, but against the gnarly beast itself.
You’d never know it to look at me, but I am tougher than I look. Just ask the battered beast I left on my bedroom floor this morning, battered into submission (at least for today) by a dollop of hardcore gratitude.
PS; The picture was taken not far from my home. One of the many things I love is that we have all these farms around here that let you come and buy fresh things on the honor systems. And up here, the system works.