Teaching Opinion

Struggling With Depression and the Expectation of Positivity

By Starr Sackstein — August 08, 2018 3 min read
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When we think of the world in terms of what is right and what is wrong, we cancel out much of the gray that truly exists in the nuances and details of our lives.

Yet, it is often easier to linger between the two in the day to day as it simplifies choices and experiences that can be overwhelming.

In the past, I have shared that at times I struggle with depression and anxiety. I don’t talk about it much as I like to think of myself as a generally positive person and I know that there are folks out there who struggle with it far more than I do and I never want to diminish their experiences.

For me, it is subtle. Sometimes starting with isolation and choosing to be away from the people with whom I know will sniff it out. Then it stretches to a decrease in motivation and a sadness that I sometimes can’t explain. The first time I really identified this feeling was when I had postpartum depression. At around 5 PM every day I would just feel sad. Sometimes I’d cry for no reason and I felt like a failure as a mom for not being more excited about it. I always loved my son and wanted to be the best mom ever for him, but I never felt like I did enough.

Now that he is grown, that feeling comes on in different ways and living with a successful career is sometimes like having postpartum depression all over again. There is pressure to do things, perhaps I’m imagining it, but it feels like I’m sometimes held to a higher standard. Sometimes I just don’t want people to notice me. That’s why I isolate myself.

Usually, I like being alone. The solitude is grounding for me, gives me time to think and take care of myself, but when it isn’t chosen, it can feel like a jail cell. That’s how a bit of my summer has felt. To be honest, I’m nervous about sharing all of this. Part of why I don’t talk about it much except with a few trusted friends whom I know get it, is because of the positive expectation. It’s almost like I’m not allowed to be down sometimes. Sadness can be consuming though and I don’t like to be in that dark place.

So I try to be productive through a lot of the challenge. Focusing on a to-do list and checking things off as I go. I like to help other people because that makes me feel better and it gets me out of my own head. Sometimes my head is a wondrous place, sometimes not so much.

And that is why it is hard to know what is right in this situation. Do I share my struggle, my challenge and show folks that it isn’t all smiles and sunshine like it may appear on my Facebook feed where I can carefully curate what the world sees and leave out the rest?

I’m selfishly hoping that by sharing my struggles right now, I will feel better for writing about them and also have folks who I know can understand, despite how lonely and alone I feel when I go through it.

It also feels a little indulgent as I’m still able to do what needs to be done and therefore can I really be struggling with what I say?

Recently, I finished a draft to another book which I am very proud of, but finishing a book is a little like having a baby too and there is a lull that comes when there is nothing left to do but wait until there is something more to do. Waiting, of course, is not a mastered skill for me, but rather a tolerated one.

I’ve tried meditation but usually fail at it. I like to walk to find some quiet but my body is telling me otherwise. (Yesterday, the walk I took created a flare-up in bursitis in my hip) and now I’m trying to read the signs and trying to connect with the gratitude that I know I feel under all of the other less than positive feelings.

I’ll get there. Just not there yet.

If you’ve read this whole post... thank you. If you have encouraging words to share or a story of your own that helps you empathize, I’m here to listen.

*Photo by Starr Sackstein

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