March 5, 2014

A Post about Feelings

Libba Bray and Myra McEntire, two authors I adore, have each written blog posts this week about their own personal experiences with depression. You can read Libba's here, and Myra's here. And you should.

We all know that being silly and giggly and happy and supportive is kind of my thing, right? I love making people laugh. I love being a big dork. I'm constantly on the hunt for new ways to reach higher and higher levels of ridiculousness. And I love love love meeting new people, making new friends, and talking. A lot.

I've mentioned before on the blog that sometimes, my whole Happy Megan persona is an act. I've always had an extremely hard time showing any kind of negative emotion. For a host of reasons, I feel this weird pressure to put on a happy face no matter what. So even if I'm not feeling like myself, I'll fake it until I do.

But sometimes, I can't even do that.

I'm already feeling anxious about this post. When I get upset, my tendency is to withdraw. I go silent- publicly and privately. This behavior has cost me several friends who don't understand why I shut down. They take it personally, and I can't blame them. I literally can't bring myself to speak up and tell them why I disappear. Luckily, I have a few friends who've learned to recognize when I go quiet, and they check in on me, and they wait for me to snap out of it.

I've never considered this to be depression. I just thought, this is me. I'm really good at being happy. I'm really bad at being sad. I criticize myself for being down. I often feel like I have no right to be sad, and then I start to feel guilty. "What do I have to be unhappy about? Look at what [literally, ANYONE else] is dealing with. What is WRONG with me?" (My guilt complex is AMAZING, y'all.)

After reading Libba's and Myra's posts, I reached two conclusions:

1. No one should feel bad for feeling bad. I say this all the time to other people. When my friends are upset with themselves for being sad or hurt or mad or whatever, "Don't feel bad for feeling bad" is one of my favorite pieces of advice. For whatever reason, I've never really turned that around on myself. I'm allowed to feel how I feel. I shouldn't beat myself up for having emotions. Feeling down is bad enough. Believing you're weak or damaged in some way just because you feel down--that's the worst.

2. There's not always going to be a reason for feeling down. I can't always point to something and say- "There. That's the thing that's upsetting me right now." The feeling doesn't necessarily come from anything. It just IS.

I've read well-written posts about depression many times over the last several years. This is the first time I've read them and seen any part of myself in their words. I don't know what that says about me, but I do know that I'm tired of feeling like being sad (or stressed or scared or anything but happy) is something to be ashamed of. I'm thankful that Libba and Myra were brave enough to write their posts. Their honesty helped me admit that I'm not always going to be on top of the world.

And that's okay.