I’m a control freak. Growing up, I used to think that I would be more successful the more I could control. That planning out my life would somehow absolve me from the unexpected and the unwanted. That if I had control, then I would get what I wanted and what I had been working for. That, ultimately, I would be happier.
But with age comes wisdom. Or maybe not even wisdom, but the evaporation of a false sense of security. But, I have found that the more I tried to design my own destiny, the more I lost control of the future I was trying to plan. Ironically, the more I tried to control, the more the things in my life became uncontrollable.
I wrote a few weeks ago that I was depressed. Well, I wrote that I was in a funk, but really, I was finally admitting to being depressed. I had been depressed for a few weeks and wasn’t quite sure why. And I wrote that instead of trying to control the depression, that this time, I was just going to ride it out. Allow the feelings to take their course and go along with it.
Experience has taught me that anytime I tried to un-depress myself (yup, that’s gonna be a word now)- the more I tried to force myself out of bed and off the couch - the longer I stayed there. The longer I stayed depressed.
Along with trying to force it, I would then berate myself for not being able to get over it sooner. I would criticize and blame myself up. Why couldn’t I get my shit together? Why couldn’t I get motivated? What was wrong with me?
See, when you have been coping with depression for at least half your life, eventually, you get good at recognizing the symptoms. You get familiar with your triggers and your unique behaviors that could easily pass for “funk” but really mean “I’m depressed.” You get to know your body and mind in a way that is unique from your other, “normal” self.
And because you have developed this ability, this unique way of seeing yourself in the world, you feel obligated to be able to self-diagnose. There is an underlying pressure that is associated with this; this ability to recognize your symptoms, identify them and prevent them. After all, you’ve been dealing with this for half your life — shouldn’t you know how to handle this by now?
But I didn’t recognize it. I made excuses for my symptoms because I didn’t want to believe that I was going through this…again.
I felt guilty and at fault for not recognizing the symptoms sooner. I felt obligated to deal with this- to see the car heading into oncoming traffic and be strong enough to get out of the way.
But I didn’t. So instead of trying to fit it, I didn’t. I didn’t try to get happier or back to my normal self. I gave up trying to control it. I just, let everything be.
Funny enough — It would seem that admitting that I was depressed and giving up control was the catalyst to getting better.
When I finally acknowledged and owned up to it, an invisible weight was lifted. I allowed myself to be at my lowest and to not be well. And that was ok.
And almost as suddenly as it had come about, I started to feel better. I started going to bed at more reasonable hours. I stopped tensing up my body. I went back to the gym. I got up off the couch.
I gave up control, gave myself permission to be depressed, and trusted that if I let things be, that I would be ok. And I was.
It’s funny in only that way that life can be funny. Poetically paradoxical; as soon as I gave myself permission to be depressed, threw my hands-up in the air and gave up control, then, and only then, was I able to start feeling better.