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Why You're Allowed to Be Depressed

by Esther Findlay-Whitlock 3 years ago

This #WorldMentalHealthDay, you're allowed to be depressed because you're a human being.

Photo by amirali beigi from Pexels

There is a stigma surrounding mental health—maybe because it's an invisible illness. I don't publicly speak about my depression and anxiety—for fear of being judged? Because I'm ashamed?

Whatever the reason, it's time to get the inside out for the sake of myself and others.

You're allowed to be depressed. You're allowed to stay in bed for a little too long. You're allowed to eat only chocolate ice cream all day, and you're allowed to back out of social plans if you don't feel you're in the right frame of mind.

But you can't let itbeat you. Give in to your depressed temptations, but then tell it to go where the sun don't shine and make it your b**ch!

Obviously, that's a lot easier said than done, because crawling out of the hole can be a real challenge, and even considering it can be a huge step. When suffering from a mental health problem, you often say "I have depression" or "I have PTSD" or "I have insert mental illness here," and that the way it should be. You have it, but it doesn't get to have you. You are a whole, fully formed human being even if you feel incomplete on your darkest days. You are not a lesser being for being mentally ill. It's not your fault, just like anyone else who is ill.

You can take the smallest steps to release yourself from this dark place. In the first case, become present. Feel the clothes or fabric on your body, listen to the sounds of your breath or the street outside, notice one thing you can see and focus on it.

When you're present you can become active.This is even harder but move your body. Eat something, have a shower, wash your face, put on your favourite t-shirt. Tell the part of your brain that is f**king you over to shove off, and beat it.

I have had a lot of down day on recent years, and most of them have been ridden with guilt: "I should be up and working" or "I ought to be doing homework" or "why am I wasting my life like this?" I spent so long exacerbating my problems with self-doubt, the voice in my head telling me I should be doing better. To make matters worse, I wasn't always surrounded by the most understanding people—the kind who would tell me to GET UP AND DO SOMETHING USEFUL!

But after a long time of blaming myself and being my own worse enemy, I realised that I'm allowed to be depressed. I can't help it—I'm ill. Granted, it's a whole different type of ill to a common cold or freshers flu, when I could just have a LemSip and sleep it off. Some might argue that's it's harder—there's no cure-all, there's no LemSip for unbalanced hormones in my brain. But that means I'm allowed to give in every now and then; to feed the demon a little. I don't know that I'll ever be able to make friends with my depression & anxiety, but I can learn to sometimes give it what it wants (the sometimes is important here). For every day that I'm "weak," there'll be a thousand days for when I'm strong. And then, you'll realise, that even in your weakest days, you're being a whole new kind of strong.

You're allowed to give in to your mental illness every now and then. It's natural because you're ill and when you're ill you need to do your best to get better. This sometimes involves being a little lump under the duvet for a while (or whatever floats your boat), but you have to tell it to f**k off when you've had enough. Don't let it kick your butt.

Give in. Then get up.

Esther Findlay-Whitlock

Read next: Movember and Men’s Mental Health

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