Growing up, my best friends were always insane go-getters. I admired these qualities in them. They thrived when busy, kept tightly packed schedules, and always seemed ready for more. Mondays were for soccer practice. Tuesdays were for club meetings. Wednesdays, debate team. And so on and so on.
But I’ve never been like that.
If too much was on my plate, I floundered. I wanted to hide away and sleep it all off.
And it’s always been an insecurity of mine.
I assigned myself numerous labels: lazy, incapable, weak, etc. I asked myself why I couldn’t just be like my friends. What was wrong with me?
What I was failing to recognize was my brain functioned differently than the people I was constantly comparing myself to. Chemically, I was wired in a way I didn’t understand.
When you have depression, simple tasks can feel like uphill battles.
For some, like me, the mood disorder manifests itself in physical ways. My energy levels have never been extraordinarily high, but when I’m experiencing a low episode, it’s even more apparent.
A common symptom of depression is extreme fatigue. And the thing about fatigue, it’s not just being a little tired. It hurts. As a result, I sleep a lot.
This confuses people when I complain of brutal insomnia. It’s a terrible cycle. I used to joke I’d be better off nocturnal. It’s when my creativity seems to be at its peak and my brain just refuses to shut down. When it gets really bad, I’ll take naps for multiple hours. It’s not even intentional. I sit down to read a book or take a small break and before I know it, my eyelids begin to feel heavy.
Even now that I’ve learned more about myself, what I need, and how to take care of myself, the comparison game still appears.
Why can’t I be like the girl who wakes up at 7 am refreshed and ready? Why can’t I jump from one activity to the next without feeling like I’m emotionally hungover?
Why can’t I just be normal?
It would be a lie if I said I know how to deal with those questions. It’s a journey that I’m always on. There are days of glorious self-love, and there are days when I’m soaked in loathing. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe figuring out the balance is something we all try to do.
But just know, if you suffer from depression, you’re a warrior. And there will be those who never understand. People who can’t possibly get how painful it is to just exist. But I know. I see you. And you and I? We’re not lazy.
We’re doing our best to survive.