One of my friends is, at this minute, having a miserable time on a family vacation. Maybe “miserable” isn’t even the right word. It’s the kind of horrible catastrophe that ends up being retold on Twitter over 100 different tweets, and it’s probable that my friend and at least one of her family members will never speak to each other again. But my friend keeps posting pictures on social media of her kids having fun on this vacation.
I don’t blame her for this one bit. I don’t think it makes her a liar, or that she’s deceiving anyone. I think she’s just understanding that two different stories can be true at the same time. Her kids ARE having fun. She’s ready to jump out of a moving car and take her chances in the ditch just to get away.
And I think that’s just like the rest of us, especially those of us with depression. I have one story, that’s true, of depression ruining everything I do. And then I have another story, that’s also true, of doing all kinds of amazing cool stuff and living a rich, full life despite/around/on top of depression.
I can look back at 2015 and think about how incredibly low and dulled I’ve been in some parts of it. How things happened that I just didn’t have the energy or alertness to prevent or deal with the way I wish I could have. The loneliness and guilt and self-recrimination. Failing my kids. But I can also look back at the business I’m building and the projects I’ve done for clients and the friendships I’ve maintained and made. Being the mom my kids really need and love. The really interesting and cool things I’ve done in 2015.
Both those stories are equally true. I am not enough of a Pollyanna to “live on the good parts” all the time. I guess I could try to ignore my depression story if I wanted to, and only look at the good stuff. But then when something knocked me back into the pit I wouldn’t have that depression story to tell me that I can climb out of the pit again. (I always have. So have you.) I wouldn’t be able to go back to the transcript and see what I did that worked and didn’t work.
As long as I have depression (and I think that’s going to be forever, even though I spend a lot more time in remission than I ever thought I could) I get to live two (at least) stories that are true at the same time. And you do, too.
If you are telling yourself your 2015 story right now, don’t forget to tell yourself both stories. You’ve lived both of them, so you deserve to tell both of them.