“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” – Andrew Solomon
I was having a bad day. Not a flat tire on the highway bad day. The everything feels heavy and I’m a waste of space bad day. I happened to find Andrew Solomon’s TED Talk after typing “depression” in the search bar of my tablet and clicking on videos. Reading would have been too much of an effort.
I remember crying. I remember watching it again. I have watched it several times since and have had my husband sit down with me to watch, hoping to give him a little more insight of how I can sometimes feel. Solomon’s descriptions of depression and anxiety were so on point, it made me feel like he was inside my own head. I felt heard. Understood. Inspired. He presented many interesting points of views, which, in a way, got me here – to this post today.
“People who deny their depression…are the most enslaved by it.”
In the talk, Solomon says that sharing his own story with mental illness has inspired others to open up about theirs. He says this is an essential tool for resilience. There is value in our emotions. All of them. Denying the negative only makes them stronger. Recognizing depression and anxiety, and finding value in the lessons that they give, don’t prevent them from returning, but may make us stronger to tolerate them if and when they return.
“Depression is a illness of how you feel.”
Another valuable point that struck me was that one can still find help in the most creative ways. An example he gave is that if someone with brain cancer says they feel better by standing on their head for 20 minutes a day, that’s all well and good, but their cancer is still there and likely to kill them. But if someone with depression says that standing on their head for 20 minutes each day helps them feel better, than that’s true. If they are feeling better, they are then technically not depressed anymore. If only it was that easy. But his point is that everyone has the power to find what works for them. They can and should find an interest that brings them joy and help release them from sadness. Even if temporarily.
My take away
I have had countless therapists (OK, 9), tried various combinations of medications, and dog-eared my share of self help books. But I have done this with the intention of being “fixed.” Something on the outside to change what was in the inside. I’ve been trying to push away the depression in order to have happiness.
I am not a writer (yet). But the urge and desire in me to share my journey inspired the making of this blog. My analytical side will feel compelled to strengthen my mental health with scientifically based techniques. While my more hesitant, vulnerable side will seek out creativity and inspiration.
I would love your company on this journey. Perhaps we can tackle some daily habits together. Hold each other up on our bad days. Inspire each other with our honesty. What will be my head stand? What will be yours?