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.


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.

Second Quarter of Grad School!

“Shit really feels like it’s getting real this quarter,” I said to my therapist this morning.

“Did it feel like you were ‘playing school’ last quarter and just taking some classes?”


(If you missed it, I’m going back to school to become a therapist myself. Eep! Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of my first quarter.)

Last quarter, my classes were largely more theoretical—one about psychoanalysis, one about culture and one that was a bit more practical, about psychopathology. My quarter ended two days before California began shutting things down. My last day of classes got canceled that morning. It was a weird time.

my very serious student face

Right now, of course, everything is online. It’s amazing to me how quickly some of this can become our new normal. Like how it’s weird now to see a crowded place on TV. I had some Zoom anxiety, but once we all logged in (I’m in a cohort), it was SO nice to see my classmates again.

The first quarter felt like an introduction to psychology and grad school; it feels very clear now that I am definitely in grad school to become a therapist. There’s more papers (two out of my four classes have a paper due every week), we’re going to begin therapist-client roleplays (EEEEEP) in one class, we’re diving into examining family systems. It is scary in some ways to begin to really dive into what it will like to be a therapist, but I’m also really excited—and honored that this is something I will get to do starting as a trainee next year.

The classes I’m taking:

Process of Interpersonal Psychotherapy: This is what I’m calling the How to Be a Therapist 101 class. It is, quite literally, about the process of therapy from initial consultation through to ending a relationship with a client. This is the class where we’ll begin to roleplay being therapists. For that reason, this isn’t really an ideal class to be taking virtually, but um, nothing is really ideal right now, so. The idea of roleplaying makes me nauseous, but I’m told it’s normal to be nervous. With this class, I think it will be fascinating to learn about the process of therapy while I am simultaneously in therapy. I can’t wait to learn why my therapist chooses different approaches. (We’re actually required to be in therapy for two quarters out of our eight, but unfortunately I can’t get extra credit for being in therapy all eight quarters!)

Professional Ethics and the Law: This class brings me the most calm. I love ethics classes. I am a rules-following nerd, and I love me a good framework to follow to uphold a chosen career. (Journalism ethics was one of my favorite classes in college, and not just because my professor was really hot, but he was.)

Systems Theory and the Family: Even though I’m not interested in working with families (and I’m leaning towards the LPCC license, not the LMFT license), this is a core class I have to take. And…it makes sense. Even if you are working with an individual, they still came from a family of origin. We’ll be doing a lot of examining our own families (HOOOO BOY) to understand how family dynamics play out.

Field Study: This is another one that will be challenging given our online-only world right now. We each choose three different communities/populations to learn about, in order to understand communities we might serve in the future. Usually, this is through site visits, in-person interviews, etc, but given social distancing, this will all be virtual. We’ll be doing things like attending webinars or doing phone/Zoom interviews. (As a sidenote, if Zoom goes down, we are collectively fucked.)

It’s a lot of work, but I’m both nervous and excited. I’m also so happy for school to be back in session to bring some semblance of normalcy back into my life. Take it where we can get it these days, right?