Here is something that has come up in conversations with three different people in the last two weeks. It also continues to be part of the puzzle in therapy. I believe I have touched on this before, if not written a complete blog about it. But it is important so here we go:
Sometimes, it feels good to feel bad.
I don’t think this is unique to bipolars, or even people with mental illness. I think this is most likely true with almost everyone. But it tends to be more severe and debilitating for people like me.
The concept is simple; there can be comfort in being depressed. Sometimes it feels good to just lie in bed all day with the shades drawn. Or sometimes a deep hard cry can be exhilarating. Watching sad movies, or listening to sad music, or reading sad books can make us feel alive. This isn’t news to anyone reading this.
But what might be surprising is that the same is true when you are deeply depressed. A lot of things can be at play here. For instance, you might be inside a depressed state so long that leaving that state and moving into unknown territories may cause anxiety. So you do what you can to prolong your depression.
It is possible that you begin to identify yourself as ‘the depressed one’ in your social circles. So you make it known to everyone when you are feeling that way to preserve your status.
Maybe you just identify to yourself as ‘the depressed one’. You can spend so much time feeling so deeply a very small range of emotions that it becomes the way you view yourself. And the idea of moving away from that identity causes anxiety.
Sometimes you might simply be holding on to circumstantial things in your life that make you feel terrible. It can be hard to forget an ex or get back out there after being fired. Sometimes people like myself tend to make up circumstantial things to keep ourselves depressed. We focus on things out of our control, that we didn’t really mess up, or that we cannot fix. We give people a lot of power over us and then lament the fact that we are not in control.
Depression can be a self-serving loop. Sometimes I get depressed about the fact that I am depressed. A lot of my anxiety and tension comes from the lack of acceptance I have over my own illness.
It can be difficult to want to move out of depression once you have reached the point in the cycle that you are able to do so. It can be scary. It can feel comfortable that while you might feel terrible, you know what to expect each morning.
I suppose certainty is, in general, a desirable situation that people cling to in a lot of aspects of their lives. Why would depression make that any different?