How Depression Effed Me Up (And Still Keeps the Hits Rolling)
Earlier this year, I attempted a 30-day challenge to try to change my mindset and escape depression. I would spend each day focusing on myself. I would wake up early and enjoy life again. I would get better.
Ultimately, I failed.
We hear a lot about challenges. There are the diet challenges—Keto, Paleo, Atkins—that we meal prep for in hopes for a healthier body. The active challenges—gym memberships, exercise apps, marathons—that we discipline ourselves to build up our strength and endurance. The journal challenges—grateful notes, thankful lists, vision boards—that are supposed to help us attract more positive thoughts. We like to put time limits on these successes. We like to talk about how rewarding and euphoric the end results will be.
We hardly talk about the impacts of what happens when we fail to meet these goals.
Take my depression challenge example. I managed to write up three posts summarizing my days and progresses towards being better (such as sleeping for shorter periods of time and focusing on my appearance again). On the 4th and 5th days, I kept up with my challenges, but it was too overwhelming for me to fit in time to write about my accomplishments. Eventually, after looking back and seeing that I missed posting for these days, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. I messed up again. I was failing. I was disappointing. I was a liar, a loser, a screwup.
So I stopped. I fell back into my old habits. Another couple of months passed me by in this numb, suspended state. And I felt even worse than before because I kept mentally berating myself for not having a “happy ending.”
We like to read and hear about people who made it. Who got it right quickly. Who survived after a disaster and learned not to make the same mistakes.
Truth is, life is much more complicated than that.
Some of us, myself included, will fall back into habits we consider destructive far more often than we’d like to admit. Others will beat the challenge on the first go around. That’s what makes humans unique.
You never know how your nature and nurture will get you through the day.
And so I failed. Hardcore failed. And depression still clings to me.
But I’ve learned a lesson from my disaster of a challenge. As long as I’m alive, there is no time limit. I’ll just have to approach each day the best I can. And learn to be kinder to myself when I make a misstep.
One day I’ll figure out how to stay consistently happy and be excited to see the mornings. But, for now, there’s no reason to put pressure on myself with a time limit.
So for those of you who are also struggling, let’s …
- Switch out “challenge” for “goals in progress.”
- Rename “failure” to “lessons learned for tomorrow.”
- And forgive ourselves when we fall instead of hating ourselves for not being able to stand.