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Can’t see the forest for the trees

I've been feeling a little bit lost these days.

I wake up each morning, and more often than not, I struggle to navigate the vast wilderness of this crazy thing called life. Despite waking up physically healthy, spending my day at a meaningful and financially stable job, coming home to a safe apartment, and being engaged to a supportive and loving partner, my mind has spent the last year or so wandering aimlessly in and out of a dense forest of depression.

That’s the thing about depression you see. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

Stumped by Sadness

As you’ve probably noticed, I have a tendency to only write blog posts when I’m coming out the other side of a difficult time. Turns out it’s much easier to share my revelations long after I’ve had the opportunity to reflect and extrapolate whatever lessons transpired from my most recent round of “self-discovery”.

When you’re in the thick of it, insight is often lacking and it’s very hard to motivate other people, let alone yourself. This is my attempt at being transparent about my struggles as they are actually happening ...and it’s harder than I thought.

Guilt Ridden Rumination

For the past decade, through various professional roles (and personal connections), I’ve regularly interacted with individuals who have experienced extensive trauma. Individuals who are in constant battle with social injustice and racism and sexism and poverty and addiction. People who have fled war torn countries, who have survived physical and sexual abuse, who have been neglected or harmed. Countless people who face barriers simply because of the circumstances they were born into.

As an educated, physically abled, white cis-female, who was raised by a supportive and loving middle-class family, I have privilege that many people on this planet do not have. For that I am exceptionally grateful.

So on the days I wake up and depression takes over, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that me and my exceptionally privileged self are pervasively sad despite having SO much to be happy about.

I feel frustrated with myself for experiencing emotions I don’t believe I’m justified in having.

I fixate on trivial topics and I build things up in my brain until I literally hurt my own feelings.

I perceive reactions from people that don’t actually exist.

I project my negative emotions onto the people that I love.

I self-sabotage in an effort to confirm the self-deprecating beliefs I have about myself.

…and then I feel even worse than I already did.

Finding the Forest

I have struggled on and off for many years. The gripping anxiety and debilitating depression have become deeply engrained in my being. This is a part of myself that I know will pervade any effort I’ve made to extinguish them entirely. Sometimes I find comfort that these feelings have contributed to exponential growth and self-reflection. To the success and happiness I deep down believe that I have worked hard to achieve. Other times, I wonder if I will ever feel truly normal or complete. If this weight that I bear will ever lift off my shoulders. If the sometimes all-consuming feelings of unworthiness will subside.

It’s very easy for me to brush off my day to day experiences as insignificant and mundane. To discredit my depression and convince myself the feelings are unwarranted or unjustified. To hyperfocus on the minute details of daily experiences. To only see the trees.

So I try, (and often fail) to remind myself that the forest is a lot vaster than the trees that comprise it.

I’m not going to lie. Im still pretty lost. But there are days when the sun casts through the tangled branches and I have hope that I’ll find my way yet.