Depression and bravery

I recently finished reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. For those who don’t know, the series is about a post-apocalyptic world in which people are divided into groups based on personality traits in an effort to promote a more peaceful society.  While not overly challenging in terms of content, it was entertaining and I enjoyed the way that themes such as love, family, loyalty, trust, and fear were explored.

One of the quotes at the end of the 3rd book (Allegiant) really stood out to me:
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.”

As a therapist who works with depression, I speak frequently to clients about the need to push through painful moments one-step and one day at a time. When you are depressed, this task can seem almost impossible. But it is central to helping make small improvements in the way you feel. And this requires bravery. Sometimes just getting out of bed to face the day requires you to be brave.

Emotional pain is relative—we all feel it yet many of us dismiss the intensity of the emotion because other people “have it so much worse.” I often have clients infer that they should not feel as bad as they do because other peoples’ suffering is so much more significant. They highlight war, trauma, death, and other examples to justify why their pain is negligible and they should just “get over it.” We are all entitled to feel emotional pain. It can be uncomfortable but it’s ours and it warrants attention. Depression might be your body and mind’s way of telling you to slow down and deal with some issue(s) in your life.  Sometimes bad things just happen and it takes some time to rebuild from that experience.

Pain is relative and we are all entitled to feel that emotion, regardless of our experiences.

Pain is relative and we are all entitled to feel that emotion, regardless of our experiences.

Fighting depression does require bravery. While it might not involve laying down you life for someone else, it does involve reflecting upon your life, experiences (good and bad), and deeply held beliefs that drive your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the present. This can be really hard stuff to work through and it requires bravery. Just like Veronica Roth wrote, sometimes it involves just gritting your teeth through the pain, every day, and slowly moving towards a better life.


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