I’ve been depressed for the past nine years, from my freshman year of high school to about three years out of college. And in those nine years, every time I’d look to someone for help, they didn’t know shit about how to help me. I got sympathy from some sweet people. I also got a good amount of people who were completely standoffish because they were afraid of what that sort of “weakness” would do to me and to them if they showed they cared.
But even though I’ve been depressed for nine years, I’ve never considered myself weak. I’d just get angry and frustrated. You see, I possess one of the most socially analytical minds of anyone I know. That sounds cocky, I might not be right, but I do at least feel like I make more of an effort to think more deeply about people than their surfaces. Despite not feeling entirely happy, I have a strong sense of morals, of hope, and I generally want the best for people. I secretly think I can figure everyone out easily — what makes them act the way they do, why they have their limiting beliefs. I even can predict what they should do and what they’re actually gonna do instead. But most importantly, I think I’m smart because I recognize that they aren’t their problems, they always will have a chance to fix themselves. And I’ll never let someone think they can’t change for the better or that they aren’t already awesome for working through their issues. I think I’m a smart, caring, good person — inside. And I wish more people would try to understand that.
But for some reason, despite knowing what I see so clearly and how much I want to help the world these entire nine years, I am still unhappy. And I feel completely stupid for that sometimes. I get really mad when people tell me to help myself, because I do. No matter how depressed or anxious I’ve gotten, I always tried. I tried in high school, I never ignored my schoolwork, I made an effort to join the drama club because I liked theatre, and joined the track team because I also liked sports. People liked me, until I told them I get depressed. But I still kept trying. I went to college, joined a bunch or organizations and student government and kept with distance running and writing, but still, I wasn’t happy. I never fully felt anything, it was like my brain was trying to feel for me. Sometimes I still wonder how much I really liked those things and how much I just went through the motions and liked the approval. I couldn’t differentiate which really gave me what emotion. I was just… there. Actions with empty feelings, but I thought I at least had good intentions. What in the hell was wrong with me?
You know, you can watch millions of movies and TV shows that basically tell you exactly what you should or should not do in your life. Don’t be materialistic or jealous. Money isn’t everything, family and friends and love are most important. Do the right thing. Be a caring person and work hard.
You can think you know all those things, and you can practice it every day. But you know what? All the bad stuff still happens. You can still get depressed, unhappy, insecure. Even when you really understand yourself and what you need.
After nine years of being depressed, I still feel like no one really understands me. I think somewhere after the first two years, I started to think no one ever would. So I would distance myself. And then, people understood me even less. They decided I was shy, and that was that. You know, it’s okay to be quiet and shy, but only if you’re okay with it. I wasn’t. But I played that role because it was easier than wanting to yell at the world for not trying harder to understand me. It’s easier than people treating you like you’re some sort of weak, crazy human being whom they think is oversensitive and can’t be trusted to do something correctly. It’s easier to convince yourself that you aren’t as creative and original as you really are, because they wouldn’t have believed you anyway.
What I know now is that I have a lot of expectations for how people should act and how I should act. I want so badly for someone to understand me and respect the fact that although I am troubled, I’m still a strong person. I want so badly to remember how much I’m worth and how much I shouldn’t care what other people think.
But I still don’t feel that. Because I need people. I should keep those expectations. And I shouldn’t feel weak or stupid for being depressed when I’m just not looking to the right people for support.
The honest truth about depression is very simple: people get depressed because they aren’t loving and living the way they really want to. Also, chemical imbalances, but that is only part of the point. No matter how much you try to lift yourself out of it, you always need that support system that doesn’t judge you, that remembers you are a person, that believes that you are not meant to just be depressed your whole life.
You are more than your problems, more than your achievements. You are how you deal and work through those things. You are your perspective, how you chose to react. You are your moral compass. You are your deepest aspirations and your intentions behind those aspirations.
I am tough and smart and a good person — because I’m tackling my problems head on right now with the best of intentions and without self-judgement. I won’t stop, even though I’ll have the occasional “why me” moment. I’m alright with me, and that’s good enough for now. But honestly, I’m never going to be fully okay until someone else is truly okay with me too. That’s how humanity works. It’s not dependency. We can’t live entirely without others and be truly happy. You can rely on yourself for a little while, but in truth, we are here to help one another, to learn, to grow. One of the worst ways you can treat a person is to pretend you understand them when you really don’t. Don’t take the easy way out if you think you really care about someone. Everyone is more than their insecurities and their issues, yet those who blatantly show theirs tend to be treated like pariahs. We all have problems and I wish we could talk about them more comfortably. I wish I had more people who believed my future was something other than thinking of ways to commit suicide. I am angry and sad but it’s because I’m sometimes the only person who believes I can be more than that. I’ll never treat someone who is really trying like that. I promise not to give up so easily. If I finally get to a good point, I hope I can find people who are like I was and really help them like I think I can. Keep trying to understand someone and they’ll keep trying to understand themselves too.