Let’s have a little chat about depression. Oh no, you might be thinking, not this again. Yes, this. Why? Because we need to talk about it! If you have ever been, or have known anyone who has ever been depressed, you know how serious and life-altering it can be.
Let me tell you a little bit about my experience with this beast called depression. First of all, I’ve always had it. My earliest memories conjure thoughts and feelings of guilt, separateness, and lethargy. I haven’t been consistently miserable forever, but I can say that for a majority of my life, I was confused. I felt out of place in almost every social situation, even if it was just with family.
Once my chronic dullness and lack of happiness had a name, like an actual diagnosis, it got worse for me. I remember wishing that there was something “real” wrong with me, something tangible or physical that was responsible for my lack of energy and enthusiasm for life. If I had cancer, I thought, there’d be something to tell. People wouldn’t bug me to “just smile” all the time. I wouldn’t feel so wrong for simply living, and being me.
One of the odd qualities that can accompany or be a part of depression is paranoia. I had social paranoia like no other. I would walk down the halls of my high school between the milling, giggling, shouting bodies, and want to crawl deeper into my sweatshirt. If it were plausible to disappear, I would. And many days, I found a way to. I cut class constantly. It’s a wonder I even graduated (after summer school to make up gym classes I missed).
I was a bright girl. I just couldn’t take being around a lot of people. My breathing would be severely shallow and restricted, many times I suffered silent panic attacks. When you have depression and anxiety, all you want to do is get the hell out of anywhere you are. But the trouble is that everywhere you are feels like Hell.
Coping with depression is difficult enough. I was pumped with medications since age 15. Most made me feel worse.
But the most painful part was the disappointment I felt everyday from my father. He still doesn’t accept depression as a real illness. He subscribes to the belief that you can control how you feel with positive thinking, and prayer. I won’t say that those things don’t help, of course they do, for many people. But because my father couldn’t accept my depression as real, I also couldn’t accept it as real. I’m not blaming him for anything. I’m just explaining how I processed those feelings. I felt so rejected and unloved. All because of genetics, and chemicals like hormones in my bloodstream and neurotransmitters in my brain that I. Did not. Have. Control over.
I still struggle with the concept of my depression all the time. However, for the sake of others who are suffering, I believe and know with all of my mind and heart that it is real. Just like cancer. Just like diabetes.
If you have depression, try not to take it personally when people offer you advice to Peter Pan and “think happy thoughts”. I’m sure they mean well. Just begin to offer yourself the facts. If you need evidence-based research to make it real for you, there are tons of studies out there.
Just make it real. Because it is. And you deserve to acknowledge that it’s not your fault. You are just as worthy as every other human being on the planet. Also, you are not your depression. Say it out loud: “I am not my depression.”
Thank you for letting me share. More to come, because this is so important for not only my healing, but for the countless others who have depression and anxiety.