My whole life, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. The older I got, the more I was able to manage it with the right support system, but I found myself feeling ashamed if I let me self get back into that dark place. Social media has had a huge impact on this feeling that I’ve experienced.
When you go through social media, people show how happy they are and all the cool things they’re doing with their life and so, like many other people, I grew to compare myself to them.
I think we all know that Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter allow people to build a mirage around themselves. When mothers post adorable photos of their little babies smiling and playing, it looks so easy. But what they don’t show is the screaming and crying and the long, sleepless nights. When students post photos of them studying abroad, they don’t show the loneliness, anxiety, fear, and stress that is completely integrated into that experience as well.
We show the world only the best of ourselves.
Seeing everyone else seem so happy and stoked on life (however unrealistic it truly is) has made me feel guilty about being sad. Even though it seems obvious, it was only recently that I really understood that sadness is a part of life. Everyone feels sad, some people are just better at hiding it.
I’ve experienced more trauma in the past eight months than I have in my entire life. Instead of addressing it, I push it away in anger. But these things aren’t something that you can just put in the back of your mind and hope they go away with time. The more you ignore these feelings, the stronger they grow, until it comes to a point where you have no choice but to address it because it’s taken over your life.
Accepting that it is okay to be depressed sometimes has been difficult because, since I was sixteen, people have told me that I shouldn’t be. I get what they were saying because the extent at which I was depressed was not normal at all. But through all of that, I got it into my head that any of those dark feelings were bad and that letting them in gave them power over me.
I understand now that this is not the case. It might seem silly, but more and more I’ve been thinking about a quote from Harry Potter (yes, I know I’m a nerd.)
“There can be no light without the dark. …Myself, I always try to live within the light.”Horace Slughorn
Without sadness, how much can I truly appreciate happiness? How can we even recognize it?
Of course it’s not good to wallow in it, but we are only human, and these things are just a part of life. We should not feel bad about this. I’ve begun to set aside time (starting with just fifteen minutes a day) where I can think on all those things that sadden me. I have a playlist of emotional music and a nice spot in my backyard where I can sit in quiet. I find that it’s at night, right when I’m settling in to bed, that these feelings become stronger.
It’s hard to get over this preconception that sadness is bad, but I’m slowly learning that it is okay. We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
It’s okay to be sad.