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Still Depressed

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People have been so kind to reach out to me after I published my last post, expressing their hope that I’m feeling better. I wish I could say I do feel better. That it was just a one day thing and I’m no longer feeling depressed. I feel like I’m disappointing everyone.

It’s not like I’m depressed every minute of every day. I made it through work and survived being on call. I played tennis. I went to dinner with friends. I seemed like a normal person when I was around other people.

I continue to be frustrated that all of my efforts to prevent depression have not worked. Maybe if I hadn’t stayed up to watch Federer and Nadal play on Saturday night it would have made a difference. Except I didn’t wake up until 1:30 in the afternoon, so I wasn’t that tired at 2 a.m. And it’s not every day that you get to see Federer and Nadal play, even if it was only a set.

Last night I had a realization that helped me to not beat myself up over all of the things I could have done differently. And that is, it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault that I am prone to depression. Not my fault that I am particularly vulnerable at this time of the year. That I am not able to handle the client overload as well as my colleagues. That my family stresses me out. That I’m not perfect in doing all of the things that are supposed to help with depression. This was the most helpful lesson in Tara Brach’s book Radical Self-Acceptance and Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind. I’m glad that I remembered it for some reason.

The other realization I had last night was something I learned in the self-compassion retreat that I attended last May. And that is, trying harder doesn’t eliminate pain and suffering. It is not for a lack of effort on my part that I feel the way I do. As much as I like to think that if I just work hard enough I can make everything better, life is filled with pain and suffering, no matter how hard you work. And while this did not make my pain go away, it helped me to accept it more and to beat up on myself less.

I have appealed to God for some salve for my wounds. Something to make the pain more tolerable. But I feel guilty for asking, given all of the things that are going on in the world. All of the people killed in Paris, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, and other places. All the people who have terminal illnesses. All of the people who are hurting worse than me. Sometimes thinking about these people helps to put my suffering into perspective, but that is not the case at the moment. Right now I can barely tolerate my own suffering. So for now I’ll just have to focus on me.

But I am learning through my practice of self-compassion that it’s OK to focus on me. My pain counts, too. I can wish for my own well-being for as long as I need to.

Perhaps if God has any angels left over after he sends them out to all of those other people, he can send an extra one to me. Just for a little while, until I feel better. An angel in training, even, like Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And if you believe in God and angels, please feel free to pray that God will send one my way.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

8 responses »

  1. I have never been privy to anyone’s sharing of how they feel when they are depressed. Thank you for this and I do pray you come out from under the cloud. How do you handle your therapy practice? How’s tennis, by the way? After the ratings came out, I’m still a 3.5 😦

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    • So far when I’m with my clients I can forget about my depression and focus on them, although that is not always the case. I am also still a 3.5, but I’m glad. I don’t think I would’ve won much at 4.0. Thanks for your comment!

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  2. I am so proud of you for realizing that this is not your fault! That it’s okay to focus on you. These are all such important things to understand. I hope that you can act in accordance. That’s what I struggle with. I know it’s not my fault, but I still think it is. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

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  3. So many, many people get depressed over the holidays. There ought to be a “permission to be depressed” party. I think I’ve been to a church where they had something like that. A Blue Christmas Celebration, for people who have a tough time. Who need others they don’t have to make a front for. It helps, I’m told. http://godspace-msa.com/2014/11/07/getting-ready-for-a-blue-christmas/

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  4. I know how you feel. I am still feeling depressed some day but by The Grace of God I am still here. I hope you are feeling better and remember your story will inspire other. Recovery from depression is a long journey. It takes work but it is worthy to work on our journey to recover from depression. Thanks for sharing.

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