THE BLOG
05/27/2014 12:20 EDT | Updated 07/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Depression Does Define Who You Are

We all have a defining characteristic. To accept that depression defines me means that I know who "me" is right now. That will change in the future. But for now, accepting that depression defines me means that I know who I am.

Dulcie Wagstaff via Getty Images

Since chronicling my fight against depression, a common theme however, has come up, making me question if I was capable of ignoring it, accepting it, or facing it head on. I chose the latter because evaluation on every spectrum of this theme always came back to the same conclusion and further enforced the respect I have for the monster that has the power to keep me captive whenever it wants to.

This theme had to do with people telling me that my depression doesn't have to define me. That I can surmount it. That allowing it to define me was to allow it to control me and my actions. Although lovely, inspirational and powerful viewpoints, as someone who has suffered from mental illness my entire life, I also think that to pretend that I am not defined by my depression is as dangerous as walking across the highway with my eyes closed.

Depression has defined me. It is me. It can be argued that this isn't healthy, but I make the argument that it is more healthy to accept it as a defining characteristic of my personality than to shove it deep under false happiness. Because that's what I did. For years, I ignored my depression, pretending that it was normal to starve myself in lieu of getting out of bed for one meal. I smiled for friends and family because that's what they wanted from me, when in reality, every encounter with them, every conversation in which someone's insensitivity towards me and my "odd" behaviour transformed me into an emotional target in which those who knew me shot their arrows of ignorance and intolerance.

To accept that depression defines me is to accept that I don't have to pretend to be happy.

To accept that depression defines me means that my sadness is okay.

To accept that depression defines me means that I am able to open up about it to people I trust, so that they in turn can monitor my behaviour.

To accept that depression defines me means that I know that suicidal thoughts and plans need to be spoken of; shared with people I trust.

To accept that depression defines me means that I am strong enough to live with it.

To accept that depression defines me means that I want to overcome it.

To accept that depression defines me means that I can be very hurt by those who wish it didn't define me; but I can also accept their ignorance as a result of their issues, not my own.

To accept that depression defines me means that I have to be aware of my mood; to understand when I'm sinking rather than feel weak and ashamed about it.

To accept that depression defines me means that I know when enough is enough; it means that I know when to retreat from confrontation.

To accept that depression defines me means that I know that words are that, only words; not daggers meant to slit my wrist so I can watch helplessly as my blood drips onto my bed of self-pity.

To accept that depression defines me means that I will have moments...long moments...possibly months of moments where self-pity reigns, and that that is okay.

To accept that depression defines me means that I can get better.

To accept that depression defines me means that I know little things may upset me more than they would others; it means that my sorrow will be deep, and my ability to surmount it will be difficult.

To accept that depression defines me means that I understand that my sprinkles of happiness may be brief, and so I have to appreciate them.

To accept that depression defines me means that I know I'm depressed.

To accept that depression defines me means that I can reach out to others who also suffer.

To accept that depression defines me means that I can write about it; explore it; take brief breaks from it when it allows; and sink away when it doesn't into a sadness that I can actually understand and verbalize. I can say: "I suffer from mental illness. I am depressed."

To accept that depression defines me means that I know about it, I accept it, and I want to eradicate it from my existence.

We all have a defining characteristic. To accept that depression defines me means that I know who "me" is right now. That will change in the future. But for now, accepting that depression defines me means that I know who I am.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

Photo gallery 17 Facts About Depression See Gallery