To be self-aware while experiencing an emerging depression is like stepping outside of your body and watching yourself struggle to get out of a tar pit. It’s slow and suffocating. There’s a sense of urgency to save yourself while feeling helpless. Self-awareness is a great skill to cultivate and maintain, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not painful to use.
Most of the time I can have a fairly objective view of myself even during emotional lows (as much as one can be) but I definitely have those days where it feels like I am completely drowning. I’m proud to say that a few things have supported me in finding air in those moments:
Letting the breakdown happen: holding in emotions for whatever reason when it is so intense and spilling over is not healthy to your body. When emotions are that heightened, it’s time to fall apart in a safe space. Even the most incredible humans cannot be strong all the time. I have a particularly hard time accepting that statement because I want to be a pillar for everyone, but being a pillar means I have to fortify myself, and letting go is one of those ways.
Confiding in a safe person: I always feel a thousand times lighter when I vent and let go with a person that I know offers me a judgment free zone. They can support you in reframing your emotions, offer tough love if needed, offer ideas for a path forward and most importantly, a space to empty your cup.
And finally, I believe that quite a few of mental illness symptoms and mental illnesses themselves are caused by a disconnection between our mind, body and soul, and miscommunication within the brain. (There are definitely medical causes for mental illnesses, I am not discrediting those at all!) This notion gives me the grace I need to stop and take a look at my internal processes. Am I taking care of myself? More than likely not if this depressive ache has gotten to this point. Now I can ask myself, what part of me am I not listening to?
We live in a band-aid, quick fix society, and that’s not always the best choice for our psyche or emotional wellbeing.
Reminder: be kind to yourself during all your phases.