Today I passed the exam for a certification that I have been working towards for years. My house may be messy but my mortgage and utilities are paid, my dogs are healthy and there are no catastrophic events pending in the immediate future of my work life. Things are looking pretty good.
So why am I still so unhappy?
It’s easy to explain away depression when life has hit a rough patch. Over the past few weeks, I have been so busy working, studying and healing that I can justify why I haven’t made a proper supper for myself in recent memory. There just hasn’t been the time to fold the clean sheets inhabiting the laundry basket in the corner. Depression isn’t the reason that I’ve been so short on patience, I’m just under a lot of stress.
The truth is, I am often unhappiest when things are going well. My brain has this sneaky little trick where it knows that I should be happy, knows that I am not happy, and then makes me feel guilty for the juxtaposition. My brain is an asshole. I’ve spent the last six years on antidepressants for major depressive disorder. There is no anticipation of living a life without them. I know that my depression is not situational. It may fade into the background at times or even be hidden from sight, but it will no more disappear than the tattoos spread across my skin that illustrate its story.
I do not know how to reconcile my success with depression. How do you explain to someone that you feel like a complete failure when the evidence points to the contrary? How do you explain that you’re still under a shadow, despite the clear blue sky?
Hopefully, one day I will be looking back at this as simply another stepping stone towards managing my mental illness. Right now, every success just reminds me of how far I have yet to go.