I’ve worked my way through three books in the last month. That might not seen like much to regular readers, but for me, it’s huge. Prior to this month, I read a book or two over the summer, but not much besides that since I finished Three Musketeers back before my son was born in 2015. I kept staring books, but couldn’t finish because I just couldn’t care, no matter how hard I tried.
So what changed?
I’m working my way out of depression.
For those of you who have been depressed, I know you can relate. But if you haven’t been depressed, this post might give you a bit of insight.
For years, I had functional depression. Never bad enough to contemplate suicide, but it was bad enough to suck the joy out of life completely. I was able to parent, to work, even to volunteer, but that was just survival. I was doing what was expected of me. I was trying my best, but even though wonderful moments, I was never joyful. Happy, yes, but not joyful.
Functional depression steals your joy. It leeches your strength and allows you to survive, but never thrive. And the worst part is, you often don’t know you were enveloped in depression until you’ve escaped. It can come on gradually, sneaking in little by little, hoping you won’t notice.
There were certainly moments where my depression wasn’t functional, and I knew I was depressed. But when those deep depressive moments ended, I wouldn’t go back to normal. Instead, I went back to my functional depression – my new normal.
But about a year ago, I started to address the issues in my life causing me pain – the issues I’d pushed aside and pretended were unimportant. Slowly, i started climbing out of depression. It took a few months before I started seeing glimpses of light: peace, joy, contentment.
Reading and writing have always been something that defined me as a person. Since second grade, I’ve always been a reader. My mom used to limit my reading time and make me go outside and play. I’d get in trouble for staying up too late reading. I even majored in the most useless degree possible: English. But somehow, over time, I lost that part of myself.
Escaping depression has reminded me who I am again. I feel like my second grade self, learning about the magic of books all over again. I look back on the last few years and wonder what happened, why I didn’t notice. But that’s the secret of depression: sometimes you just don’t know until later.
I realize how lucky I am to have another chance to be me. Rediscovering myself was the impetus to light my fire and look back on my finished novel, just waiting to be edited. It caused me to write another novel. It made me start a blog and website. It made me read. It made me feel again. I realize now, more than ever, how blessed I am to know who I am, and to embrace it fully, without great, and throw myself into discovering my path in life. The journey is infinitely more fun when I can be grateful, proactive, and joyful.
P.S. If I ever stop reading or writing, I need antidepressants asap. I don’t want to lose this again.