I’ve heard depression described as a selfish disease. I’ve heard people say that it causes selfishness, or even that it is caused itself by selfishness. Well I say that the most selfish thing I have ever done was to deal with my depression. And the results were more than worth it, not just for me but for everyone around me.
My depression told me that my friends had enough problems on their plates. It told me that it wasn’t fair to ask them to deal with my laziness and stupidity, and that it’d be best for all of us if I just hid away when I was feeling down. So I did. And then I felt alone, and abandoned, and so I pulled further away, and so the loop went on.
When I began dealing with my depression I became ‘selfish’. I asked for help from my friends when I needed it, even if my depression said I didn’t deserve it. I trusted them to decide whether what I was asking was fair or not, and whether they could or would help. And they did.
My depression told me that no-one wanted to listen to me moan, and that I should just keep quiet if I had nothing positive to say. It told me that to do otherwise was to make life uncomfortable to my friends.
When I began dealing with my depression I ‘selfishly’ talked to my friends about the low moods as well as the high ones. I chose honesty over false smiles, and in doing so I found that many of them had similar problems, and had similar reasons for never speaking of them, and that together we could both become better.
My depression said that taking medication for my illness was just a way of shunting blame and refusing to take responsibility for the fact that I was a failure as a person. It said that it was selfish to claim that something was wrong with me when I was just lazy and broken.
When I began dealing with my depression I ‘took the easy way out’. I took medication that balanced my moods, I spoke to doctors about my situation without worrying that I was wasting their precious time.
My depression claimed that I was a burden on everybody. It hinted that the less contact I had with others, the safer and happier they would be. It suggested that asking for help was something that no kind and loving person would do. It even, in the darkest times, whispered that the world would be better off without me in it. It lied.
When I began dealing with my depression I made it all about me. My health. My mind. My life. I took responsibility for my life, but more importantly, I let other people take responsibility for theirs. I stopped* hiding who I am and what I suffer from in a vain attempt to ‘protect’ the people I care about, and instead I let them into my life and allowed them to help me recover.
My depression made me feel that being selfish was the worst sin I could ever commit, but my recovery helped me to see that so long as you never disregard others or their feelings there’s nothing wrong with tending to yourself and yours. Because it’s hard to honour others when you don’t honour yourself. And it’s hard to care when you feel that you don’t deserve to be cared for.
*(or at least, am trying to stop 😛 )