the six things i have learned from unbearable sadness
there are things that come from sadness.
one of them is knowledge.
people spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of depression; how it hurls you into a world and life that is much deeper than however you were living before. this is partly true. i'm not so sure it outweighs the detrimental effects of depression, such as being depressed all the time, but there are definitely benefits from depression, little gifts that find their way into your psyche and then one day you realize the simple fact that you have learned something.
so these are the things i have learned from my sadness. i am sharing this little macabre compendium not to trumpet my wisdom, but to remind people of the little hopes that exist in sorrow, and hopefully somewhere this will ring the little bells of truth for somebody.
and so here we are. i have been unbearably sad for over six years. i am finally starting to feel better. these are the things i have learned.
1. there is love.
there is something about sadness that makes us feel like we are outside of love, like we are out of love and out of life and there is no love around us. but there is more to it than that. depression is more than a lack of love, or lack of perceived love. rather, depression is about the darker side of love; it is an exploration of sadness and madness that comes from love. i have never been quite so in love with people as i have when i have been depressed. it gets a bit reckless, but all in all i think the unbearable love from unbearable sadness is a strength. i think the reason for this is empathy. empathy is so deeply engrained in sadness - the thing with being sad all the time is that you gain a certain understanding and familiarity with sadness. you learn how sadness feels sitting on your chest and how it makes air harder to breathe. most of all, you learn to love the darker side of things. you love people for their sadness and you love people for their weaknesses and that is generally a great thing.
and people love you too.
this is one of those things that doesn't feel like truth when you're depressed, but when you finally step aside and ring in the true it stares you down like only the truth can. when you present your sadness like a gift to others and they accept it, it is a very special kind of love. not everyone is up to it and that's okay (sometimes).
2. it is always a bad idea to read sylvia plath when you are sad
3. all tears are real
there is a lot of guilt that comes with being depressed. mostly for me, it was guilt around this question "how can my life be so beautiful while i'm so sad all the time?"
we have this weird notion that sadness has to be earned through trauma and tragedy. but that's simply not true. if we can really have true empathy for ourselves and choose to love ourselves the truth is that all tears are real; they are all worth love. do not hate yourself for sadness, and don't hate other people for their sadness either. if we could take sometime to stop trying to legitimate our sadness and just accept it as a truth rather than a battle, we would be a lot of steps ahead.
4. depression is real, you are beautiful, and stigma is still stupid
stigma is really dumb. stigma is the license to stop caring and stop listening. i have been surrounded by the greatest champions of non-stigma throughout my recovery, and it has made all of the difference. people have stood by me and filled me with love and light. they have come to see me when i've been in bed and peeled me off the floor when i was in catatonic states and that has made all of the difference. the point is, while stigma is stupid, the opposite of stigma (whatever that may be... love? caring? empathy?) is beautiful. it is so helpful. it can't lift you out of sadness but it can hold you. my friends have been amazing with me throughout all of my misery and it has made all the difference.
5. ring in the true
try hard to hold on to reality. there is a world within you and without you. depression isn't about living in one world or the other; it's about learning to negotiate and navigate your way through both of them. your friends can help you here. it helps to be held by people who can take your hand and walk you through the real world, the one that is outside of yourself, and show you all that is marvellous.
6. we are not alone.
we are not alone.