One of the hardest struggles that I have faced in my fight for recovery is trying to answer the question of who I am. Being depressed changes so many things about you and your personality that it becomes very difficult to know what parts of you are there because you want them to be and what parts are there because of how depression affects your mood.
Lacking interest in activities that previously interested you is a very common symptom of depression. Whether it’s because you’re too tired to partake in it or you can’t will yourself to care about something you deem pointless, depression can take away some of your favourite hobbies. For example, when I was younger my favourite things to do would be playing outside with my neighbours, going to the movies, and reading. Now obviously everybody experiences their interests changing slightly over the years as they grow up and change, but that’s why depression makes this even more difficult. Maybe I don’t like spending so much time outside anymore because it’s not appropriate for someone my age to play on the swings or in the sandbox. But what if it’s not?
On the other side of the same coin, what about the activities that I partake in when I’m having a severe depressive episode? Are these things actually interesting and entertaining to me, or am I just too tired or apathetic to do anything else? Usually, if my depression is really bad, I will just sleep or play games on my phone. Am I actually that interested in solitaire or do I just not have the energy to pay attention to a movie or book? Sometimes I feel like watching TV, even the vapidest and most simplistic children’s shows, is too exhausting to understand and consume.
Is that because my depression is sapping my energy? Maybe I just don’t have the attention span anymore. I don’t know what it is and it’s very frustrating. Who am I? Where does the depression end and the real me begin?
I think the solution to this is that there is no end of depression and beginning of me. Depression is me. I know that may sound disheartened and like I’m giving up on my own recovery, but I’m really not. The way I look at it is that depression is more than feeling tired or sad. It’s how my brain mediates and navigates my life and experiences. Everything that I do is affected by my depression, whether it’s a good or a bad day for it. To try and find what I like without depression is impossible because depression will always be there. All I can do is what I feel like doing at that moment.
This is hard to accomplish because of my intense need to characterize myself. I really just want to “find who I am” and in reality, no one ever really does that. People aren’t stereotypes. No one is JUST interested in video games or beauty or crafting or sports. Everyone has a variety of interests and personality traits that conflict and work together. That’s what makes people so interesting and complex. But it seems like it would just be easier to navigate my own life if I had a pigeon hold to put myself in. I want to quantify myself so it’s easier to understand myself, but that’s not fair.
This blog post doesn’t necessarily have any advice or real wisdom in it. I just wanted to get it out and share it. I’m sure other people with mental illness deal with the same doubts and questions. If you’re looking for tips on staying interested in your hobbies when depression is taking its toll, I did write a post about it a while ago. If you can relate to this post at all, please let me know about it and we can talk about it in the comments.