I think of all the characteristics of depression, the one that surprises me most often is how intense the highs and lows are. Very deep lows are almost to be expected, but one would not expect the highs to be quite so euphoric. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about the manic highs associated with bipolar disorder. I mean just the normal, happy, everyday feelings we all experience. Perhaps because the lows are so pronounced, the average highs seem even higher.

I recently wrote a post about how I knew I could face the impending difficulties a job search might bring. I followed that up with a post about how my depression had been feeling more distant as of late. Every word in both of those posts was true when I wrote them. I was feeling good, and a depressive episode was the farthest thing from my mind. I was even wondering if I was running out of things to write about, as far as depression was concerned.

But then came Wednesday. I fell into a funk the likes of which I had not experienced in quite some time. I was never going to get a job in my field. I had wasted the last three years obtaining a masters degree. I was lazy and stupid. I was a loser who would never be successful at anything. All of these thoughts bombarded me all day long, until I was finally granted the sweet release of sleep that night.

My initial reaction when something like this happens is to assume the high points were apparitions. I may have been feeling happy at the time, but the negative things I would later believe were actually closer to the truth. This is basically the equivalent of saying something one day and trying to take it back the next. The only problem is, you can never really take anything back. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. That thing you thought or said was real in the moment, and now you have to figure out some way to deal with it.

It may sound strange, but I am learning to deal with happiness. There was truth in how I felt and what I wrote earlier, and I need to learn how to separate that truth from the lies negativity and depression brings with them. That doesn’t mean I walk around in a state of ignorant bliss all the time. What it does mean is that I take the highs and the lows and measure them against each other. That way, I can find the middle ground and, hopefully, the truth.

Knowing me, I may completely disavow everything I just wrote in the last paragraph the next time a wave of depression hits me. At least I’m on record, though, as knowing what it is I need to do. And now that it’s out there… Well, you know.

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