I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for about three years now. Been in and out of therapy, medication, the works. All this while, I’ve been telling myself that the cure to my depression, is finding a way to become the person I used to be. But what I’ve gone through has changed me, for good. Almost so that I’m not the person I was anymore. But I have no idea to go about getting to know this new version of myself or loving this version of myself when a part of me is so convinced that I used to be better before.
Here’s the thing: depression and anxiety changes all of us. No, really. Our brain literally changes when these go unchecked for long.
Depression+anxiety make you question yourself, your self-worth, your sense of identity, your whole existence all at once while also setting your brain on fire for questioning these things. Those of us who have the privilege of seeking therapy get to go to the root of what triggers us and what really pushes us over the edge to help us heal. Or rather, find a sense of normalcy when living with these furry friends in your head.
For now, though, let’s go back to the time you were the person you say you were. You say you were a better person.
How exactly do you measure better? Were you more successful? Were you thinner? Or do you think you were you fitting into society’s idea of better?
But also, were you less in pain? Less aware of your emotions? Less aware of what really pains you? Less aware of what really makes your bad days really bad?
What you were yesterday matters only to remind you that you survived the person that was. You survived the person that genuinely believed that they didn’t have a place in this world. That they were worthless and could achieve nothing. That their brain was shutting down and nothing was making sense.
Anxiety makes sure you are either constantly living in the present or the future. When depression is added to the mix, you just dig yourself a pit that allows you to wallow in either of those two phases.
The person you are today is awake. The person you are today is more present than you used to be.
You get to know this person bit by bit. You introduce yourself kindly. With a smile on your face. It’s okay to be nervous and awkward when you’re meeting someone for the first few times. This is just the beginning of the relationship after all.
Ask them questions as if you’re falling in love with someone for the first time. Ask them their favourite colours, their likes and dislikes.
Then go deep. Ask them what brought them here, what their childhood traumas are like, what really makes them mad and what truly makes them happy.
The only catch is that, unlike dating, answer these questions without trying to impress or judge yourself. The key is to be honest with yourself.
Regardless of our mental illnesses, we are constantly changing. Physically and mentally. When you promise to never lie to yourself, you are always in touch with the person you are and the person you are becoming.
So, be honest.
And never forget to write down the answers. This is not just so you remember where you came from. But also, so that you always have a record of the person you are in this moment.
And you never forget how good getting better feels.