For the first time since my depression first set in around eleven years ago, I feel that I am really making positive steps towards a recovery. I’m not experiencing the same crushing hopelessness and despair that I was feeling up until just over a year ago. I am managing relatively well on a day-to-day basis at keeping my mood steady. I think my relationship with Fleur has been the main contribution towards this recovery, with added help from my anti-depressants, improved social life and stronger financial situation.
The big issue I am having is with shaking off my identity of eleven years. For most of my adolescence and almost half of my life, I have identified as somebody that struggles with depression and anxiety. It has been so integral to my personality that I would often use it as an excuse for myself, or to celebrate as an obstacle that I had overcome. So when such a large part of my personality is no longer present, who do I become?
Whilst I know that living with depression and anxiety is far from unusual, I almost feel as though those conditions made me something. Without those characteristics, I am nothing. I am just a plain, boring person, moving through life leaving no real impression. I want to have some meaning – even if it is only to myself.
As a result of these thoughts, it is difficult to no longer identify as somebody who is mentally unwell. I was thinking about my depression just the other day when I had to realise that I’m not really depressed now and I was making it up inside my own head. Whilst I don’t want to be depressed or anxious, the diagnosis is something of a safety blanket to me.
I hope that at some point in the future I will no longer look at myself in this way. The trouble is that I can’t see how I would look at myself. Would I look at myself as energetic, healthy…balanced? I just don’t picture it.