“So, you’re mildly depressed”, the doctor said after a brief questionnaire, and though tears welled up in my eyes, the diagnosis, so to speak, really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.
A pandemic was still keeping me in a state of limbo in terms of what I could and couldn’t do. The rights I and other uterus-having-Americans retain regarding our bodies were and still are being heavily questioned in the public sphere. The planet was and still is being taken advantage of and my future on this once healthy blue ball is looking more and more uncertain everyday.
Rent was going up and my other expenses seemed to keep going with it. I was and still am living far away from my favorite person in the whole world. I was and still am dealing with an anxiety around closeness I had only recently discovered living in my heart. In between moments of peace at sunrise or laughing on the phone, I was feeling frustrated, stuck, hopeless and angry.
As I had come to understand for the first time 2 weeks before that fateful doctor’s appointment, I had been feeling out of love with life. Not in every moment of everyday, but certainly more often than I ever had before.
Depressed, still, was a hard word to hear.
Depressed, but Still Choosing Yellow?
Choosing Yellow, for me, is a way of life. A call to arms and an identity I wear close to my heart.
I have a tattoo, in fact, that I got at the ripe age of 18. A little smiley face just above my left rib cage, a reminder of the quality most tantamount to my essence: optimism, hope, and a big, bright, smile.
That day though, I felt like crying. I’d been feeling ill for the past few weeks and once the doctors had ruled out both pregnancy and Covid, I was left with a questionnaire asking me things I didn’t really want to think about.
How many days over the last two weeks had I felt hopeless? Had I been finding joy in the activities I usually do and if not, for how many days?
I felt guilty.
It wasn’t for lack of gratitude that depression had found me, and, I reasoned, I didn’t even feel depressed all the time.
Afterall, I knew, looking around me, how much I had to be deeply grateful for. A roof over my head, a van that promised me a life full of adventures, an ecosystem of loved ones who cared for me and wanted to give me their support.
Still, I had to acknowledge the persistent melancholy that creeped up behind me on my darker days, the deep-seated dissatisfaction, the brooding bout of low-grade despair.
Trying Not to Fall, Trying Not to Fail
That Friday morning, weeks before that doctors appointment, when I first articulated my “out-of-love-ness” with the world, I had tried everything I could to redirect my energy.
I skated through the sunrise.
I looked out at the water.
I played ukulele under a tree.
I talked to my most loved of loved ones and still the tears came, catching in my chest, stifling my words.
I cried so much that morning that my eyes stayed puffy for 2 and a half days. I gave myself a psychogenic fever and I camped out on the couch taking deep breaths and sips of water in search of restoration.
Re-defining My Normal
My mom was worried. My partner was, too. And hell, so was I. What was happening to me? Where had I gone? And who was this sad, anxious, insecure individual in her place?
It was still me, still the yellow loving, adventure having, photo taking young woman I’d been building over the years.
And she, like so many others, was having a hard time remaining her best self in a world that really wasn’t giving her it’s best to work with.
And that’s normal.
As a beloved friend of mine reminds me from time to time, “It’s okay to not be okay”.
And it IS okay. I promise, it’s okay.
After a day of rest and daydreaming about the life I most want and how I’m going to get myself there, I found myself feeling a bit more hopeful, a bit more yellow.
Beating Down Depression from the Roof
The very next day I went to a friend’s house to work on my van. I self soothed on the roof as I tore off the ladder rack I’d been meaning to remove for months, and prepared for the life I wanted with stubborn satisfaction.
As the rack crashed down onto the grass beside the van, so, too, did a bit of the hopelessness I’d been holding in my heart. The helplessness that had been fueling my tears took a coffee break and I sighed, happy for the reprieve.
And it was hard not to love myself, standing on the roof of my van, doing my best to deploy a rescue mission for my well being.
So, when I found myself driving back from the doctor’s office two weeks later, with a case of ‘mild depression’ riding beside me, I knew two things:
- That I would be okay.
- That even though I wasn’t feeling my best right in that moment, and perhaps hadn’t been feeling my best for a little while, I was still so worthy of all my love.
If you’re struggling at all, if you’re sad in the slightest, if you’re anxious about the world and what tomorrow holds in store, know that you’re not alone. Know that you’ll be okay.
And know, most of all, that it’s okay to not be okay just yet.
Love yourself enough to try, and rest, and try again.
Love yourself enough to choose yellow and, more importantly, to choose yourself in a world that seems so hell bent on choosing less beautiful things.