Today I’m having a good day. I’m not entirely sure why, there’s nothing amazing or stand-out about today that makes it much different to yesterday (which was less good). Sometimes the days just are and I have to roll with it.
Maybe it’s because it’s Friday, or it’s just one day until the Bulldogs play the Giants for a place in the AFL Grand Final (I am so excited about this game!), or because the social media page I manage for my company reached 75 followers (they were at 51 when I took over in March), or it could even be because this morning I handled a work situation extremely well and delivered a hot lead to one of our salespeople.
It could be any of those things, or it could be none. Those sorts of things happen on bad days too, but today these little achievements feel extra good. Especially the work ones. I’m still in that stage where half the time I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing at all!
Analysing good days takes some of the fun out of it, so I’ll try not to do that so much. What I do have to avoid is convincing myself that this is the beginning of everything being super shiny happy. That’s a trap I’ve fallen into so many times, and trust me, it doesn’t get easier.
Relapsing when you honestly and truly believe you’re getting better? It’s heartbreaking.
No one wants to be sick like this. Some degree of positivity and hope is crucial to coming out of it, but it’s not the sole factor and telling yourself at the first sign of fog lifting that this time you’re going to charge your way back to full function and take on the world? It shatters in the face of reality. Expecting yourself to come back like that is unrealistic, even for the strongest of us.
This is the reality of depression:
- It is a recurring condition. You will feel better, and you will get worse, and you will feel better again.
- You will be stronger after every relapse, even if you don’t feel it.
- Good days aren’t always a sign of recovery, but they should definitely be enjoyed!
- No one recovers instantly. Unfortunately, that includes you. No one is a special depression snowflake. Recovery is an ongoing process of managing yourself, your thought processes, and your environment.
- Recovery doesn’t mean you’ll never be depressed again. It means you’re competent enough at managing it that it no longer interferes with your life the way it used to.
- Hiding it, faking happiness, forcing positivity, all of those ‘fake it until you make it’ strategies might make it look like you’re okay, but nothing is better for recovery than being honest and open when you’re struggling. Tell someone. You’re not a burden, you’re human.
Most importantly, if you’re trying to ‘pass’ as okay, do it for you and not for others. Don’t mislead yourself with the idea that you should hide what you feel to make other people comfortable. It’s not healthy. If they’re not okay with the conversation, they’ll say so.
If you feel you need help, or just want to vent to someone: do it.
If you honestly feel better when you’re faking it, or if you want to pass for a reason that is important to you, do that. Basing who you are and what you do around others is a nice thought, but if it becomes the sole motivator in how you present yourself, it’s not healthy. Be yourself, unashamed. And still, talk to someone you trust.
Heck, even if you’re not depressed: talk to someone about how shitty you felt when you stubbed your toe.
But, back on some more fun topics, here’s some of the things that happen when I’m having a Good Day (capitalised because of the obvious importance).
- I dance. And I do this in good moments on bad days. It’s not real dancing, more of a… half-skip walk with legs kicking out. Because body movement is fun!
- I swing on things. Like my office chair. Or I spin in circles.
- I feel like me. Without the crushing self-doubt and heavy emptiness, I’m free to do those weird and wonderful things that I love myself for.
- I jump down the stairs. Holding the hand rails, of course, because I don’t want to die. I also jump up the stairs this way.
- I sing and bop to anything that’s on. Sometimes I sing to calm my breathing too, and sometimes I can’t help it because there’s music on and I have to–but it’s more obvious and louder when things are good.
- I talk. You’ve probably noticed that I have a lot to say, and a good day usually means that I’m likely to talk endlessly about the things that others don’t care about so much.
- I laugh. Randomly. At things you can’t see or hear, because I just thought them up. Will I explain what’s so funny? Maybe not.
- My imagination explodes. Yes, it’s always exploding–and occasionally depression leads down dark what-ifs that are actually super fascinating–on Good Days this imagination can get downright bizarre. Like a Simpsons dream sequence.
- I love everything and everyone. Which I do anyway, but I feel it much much more on a Good Day.
Basically, Good Days are days of freedom. Days where I can be the person I want to be because I have the energy to do it, and the confidence to not care what people think.
It’s quite similar to me being drunk. Enough alcohol and I can enter a state where all the self-imposed inhibitions lift, where I can talk to people without worrying about conversation protocols and whether this is really the right audience to be talking philosophy with.
When I’m having a Good Day? Everyone is the right audience to be talking philosophy with.
On a Good Day, I’m me with 100% extra authentic me, and you can either like it or walk away. These Good Days are what my first psychiatrist diagnosed as ‘hypomania’, but I think it’s far simpler than that. I don’t feel invincible by any stretch of the imagination, I just recognise a chance to let myself out of the cage and I go for it.
Because, in order to avoid the trap of hoping that a Good Day is the beginning of Complete Recovery, I take every day for what it is: Unknown.
Yesterday was not a Good Day. Today is. Tomorrow? I’ll find out when I get there.
Right now, I’m making the most of the Good Day I’m having.