Hi there! Yup, I’m alive. Here’s the thing…
I have depression and anxiety. My life is a constant inner struggle, which, despite my carefully constructed routines and masks, sometimes seeps into my external world. There are days when just being alive becomes physically painful and exhausting and there is nothing I can do to change that.
Honestly, though, I didn’t even want to tell you this. I didn’t want to expose this vulnerability to the world and open myself up to criticisms. Which is odd when you think about it. I am always a fan of discussing the difficult things, and bringing attention to matters society is overlooking and downplaying, but for some reason when it came to this I was holding on to it, too scared to let people know. Sure, most of my closest friends and a decent amount of my family know, but that hasn’t made it easier.
You see, there is still a horrible stigma attached to mental health issues, which is pervasive in our culture. This has led me to be embarrassed of this part of myself, which, in reality, is fucking ridiculous when you really think about it. I didn’t chose this, and I am not just fucking sad. Depression is a disease. Anxiety is a disorder. At times they are just as disabling as any physical ailment. Somehow though, having this disease opens you up to criticism in a way that others do not. There is some weird subconscious belief that depression is something we do to ourselves. There is not widespread empathy and understanding of depression in the way that it exists for other illnesses. Many people will try to understand and be there but when push comes to shove their support is often short lived. Usually that support is rescinded or turned sour because they feel that they are trying to help and you aren’t interested in helping yourself.
Yes, fucking exactly! I have no interest in helping myself. I have no interest in ANYTHING(!) when I find myself in that black hole. That is LITERALLY what having depression is!!!
So, maybe, we should clarify a few things, here and now.
- Depression is NOT a choice. Depression is NOT a weakness. Depression is an illness. You do not wake up hoping that your will to live will be replaced by crushing emptiness and and echoing disinterest. These are thrust upon you forcefully.
- Everyone who has depression suffers differently. There are different aspects of their life that are hit the hardest.
- Depression, unlike sadness, does not need a trigger. While external factors may worsen depression, a person with depression can, in fact, be suffering horribly while everything in their life is going perfectly.
- Depression takes away your sense of self identity, your purpose, and your ability to construct the possibility of a tomorrow.
- A person with depression cannot just snap out of it and the power of positivity does very little to effect the depression. You cannot tell someone to “think good and good will happen” or “just try and do _____ and you’ll snap out of it.” Depression has robbed them of their ability to even form these thoughts
- Depression is selfish. Sufferers know this to be true. We aren’t trying to push you away. We aren’t trying to burden you or make you feel guilty. We KNOW how hard this has to be on you, but showing unconditional love and care is really all you can do to help us.
- On that note, we do see and appreciate when you are trying, even if we cannot properly feel or express that.
- Depression makes you feel like a burden to your loved ones. It makes you feel worthless and guilty for dragging them through this. It makes you question why you even allow yourself to be a part of anyone’s life when you will simply weigh them down.
- Depression should not define a person, even though when you’re suffering it feels like it does. Depression is something I have, not who I am. I have to tell myself that daily.
- Depression and anxiety both make mountains out of mole hills. This applies to both the good and the bad. That small task of showering may seem insignificant but it may have been the day’s greatest victory. Likewise, something that was said offhand and probably held little significance will eat at me for days, weeks, possibly months or years.
- Most importantly, there are happy moments. They can last anywhere from hours to weeks. We will try to take full advantage of every second of this time and usually ask our loved ones to do the same. It is important to remember, though, that being happy today grants no promises for tomorrow. Depression can’t be cured and it isn’t just going to go away.
That’s all I’ve got for now, and while I don’t know how much impact my small corner of the internet can possibly have on the world I feel better knowing I am trying. It is 2017 and the world is ever changing. We need to start removing the stigma attached to this illness.
Imagine turning to someone who is wheelchair bound and telling them they just aren’t trying hard enough to walk. Imagine calling your friend or loved one a flake because their respiratory issues prevent them from coming out often. Imagine telling someone they killed the day’s vibe because they fell and cracked their head. Imagine insulting someones need to seek medical attention over a broken bone.
All of those ideas sound completely preposterous, but in reality this is exactly what society does to people who struggle with mental health. Our minds are just as important as our bodies, and an illness is never something we should be shamed for. Take a moment for mental health and if you are fortunate enough not to suffer, then evaluate how you react to those that do. Being an ally is one of the best things you can be in this world.