Whatever You’re Feeling Is OK

Yesterday, I saw someone on Facebook post a photo of himself and the caption simply read “depressed.”

“You have no reason to be depressed,” someone wrote in the comments.

HOLD UP.

Why is this not OK?

  • Feeling depressed—whether it’s situational or clinical—is a real and valid feeling ALWAYS
  • Depression doesn’t discriminate. You can have everything and be depressed; you can have nothing and be depressed.
  • We are living through an unprecedented global crisis that requires isolation, which goes against how humans are wired, for connection. We are grieving losses big and small—from canceled events to loved ones.
  • Denying feelings only makes them come out stronger and leads to *more* depression or anxiety down the line.

Pandemic aside, you can have “no real reason” to be depressed and your brain is just being an asshole. It’s like a gray raincloud is following you at all times. Like there’s a devil on your shoulder saying all sorts of nasty things to you, telling you how much you suck, how hopeless things are.

Pandemic not aside, this has killed more than 100,000 worldwide. We don’t know how or when this is going to end. Our lives as we knew them on a daily basis were changed abruptly last month. Of course this would affect anyone’s mental health.

(I’m going to pause here for perspective: I know my privilege in being able to stay/work at home right now, and I bow down to both the essential workers + healthcare workers who don’t have this option.)

I’ve been alone since this started. Guess what? Depression thrives in isolation. I haven’t had a hug in more than a month. I never imagined what it would feel like to go so long without human touch or how much you could miss it. Being alone means more time with my thoughts, and when the greater world feels so hopeless, it’s easy for me to start spiraling that my own life is hopeless, too.

…and this is OK. Because it’s OK to not be OK. (And conversely, if you are overall doing well emotionally right now, that doesn’t mean that you are a callous human being, it means that you’ve been tending to your needs.)

There are days throughout all of this when I’m doing totally OK and can go in and out of remembering what’s happening until I have to put my mask on to take my dog out. There’s days when I am very much not OK and, to be perfectly honest, resort back to unhealthy and destructive coping mechanisms. My therapist says that is beyond normal—and admits that even she has found herself resorting to her own maladaptive coping mechanisms.

And honestly, today was one of the days where I just was feeling like this is never going to end, and I started spiraling to hopelessness in my own life. It’s so cliche, but tell someone how you feel. Don’t keep this bottled up inside or think you shouldn’t be feeling this way. Whatever you’re feeling is real. I’m working on getting better at validating my own feelings, but I have a friend that I feel 200 percent safe with, and I shared with her what I’m feeling, and she gave me space to feel it.

I want to find a way to end this neatly, but I don’t think that exists right now. We’re all just doing the best we can, and I need to remind myself (and maybe you need this reminder too) that this too shall pass, as my mom used to say.

How are you really feeling right now? And what’s been a bright spot for you throughout all of this?

My bright spots are my sweet little dog (evergreen) and workouts. I’m going hard on the workouts, so I think I might post about them soon.

6 comments on “Whatever You’re Feeling Is OK

  1. Lindsay

    I, too, have been alone and I just want a hug from someone. I’m feeling good today, but I have difficult moments – usually because I’m feeling lonely or because I’m worried about my 75-year old father who lives in our state’s hot spot or about my sister who is a nurse practitioner. Bright spots – a lot less work stress since I started working from home and connecting with friends through texts/phone calls/zoom.

    Reply
  2. Paige

    Hugs to you, Theodora!

    I really appreciate your post… It is so timely for me.

    I’ve been struggling a lot with anxiety and depression, and you are so right… Depression thrives in Isolation.

    You’re such a good writer… And you have such a beautiful way of expressing words in your feelings.

    I hope you’re having a wonderful day today! I truly appreciate how you are so vulnerable and open up to your readers.

    Reply
  3. Anne

    I completely get the “no hugs” thing. It’s been 2+ months. I live alone. I actually look forward to my grocery store visits as I see the same staff week after week (creature of habit, here). I even miss the weird guy at the gym who sings and talks to himself on the treadmill. I so appreciate you sharing about how depression is real, no matter your situation. And, who am I to judge if someone is depressed or not? I don’t know your feelings, your situation, your mood. So, yes. Yes to all of this. Please keep writing and sharing your voice – and thank you for doing so!

    Reply
  4. Priya

    You are such a great writer and the best part is that you are writing for a cause. I agree with all the points especially the hug part. People don’t feel very good when they receive 0 hugs.

    Reply

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