Depression is scary. It’s debilitating, it’s life-changing, and it’s one of those illnesses that makes you question everything about life and suffering.
However, depression teaches you lessons you only learn by going through it.
1. When we are struggling people around us can only do so much, but just being there for support means everything.
When you’re deep in the midst of depression it’s normal to automatically assume that because you’re in a crisis everyone around you should have enough empathy to support you no matter what. However, what I’ve learned is that when it comes to mental illness some people truly don’t know how to react or respond because they don’t understand. This is ignorance and many of us are ignorant to a lot of things.
Nonetheless, people who truly want to support and love you when you’re hurting will do this and this makes all the difference. Supporting someone through depression can mean a quick text to make sure you are safe or doing ok for the day, it can mean inviting you over to their house just so you aren’t alone, or just listening to what you have to say while they encourage you.
Support doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does require effort, and we’re all capable of this.
2. There are so many people who are uneducated on depression, so don’t let what people have said bring you down.
When I was in the midst of depression, some people would say some things that really hurt me. I would ruminate on what was said for days or weeks and it would then turn into anger, eventually turning into resentment for that person.
Today, I look back on what was said and it just makes me more passionate to be a mental-health advocate so people can understand that depression is not a weakness nor a flaw and it can’t be “fixed” and you can’t just “snap out of it.”
People might have said hurtful things about your depression, but remember that they said these things based on their limited knowledge of your experience. Not everyone will understand your pain. It is unfortunate, but it is the reality of life. What you can do is remember that you and only you know the truth about your experience.
3. You learn not to judge others so harshly when your world has turned upside down.
Before my experience with depression, I was in a bubble when it came to life’s experiences and the hardships it entails. I thought I was invincible. I looked at others who took medication for depression and thought, “How did that happen?”
But then I started to go to groups with people who self-harmed. I met a middle-aged woman who contemplated drowning herself because all of it became too much. I met a woman who had a child and was depressed and countless other people with stories similar to mine.
This woke me up.
I don’t like that I’ve experienced depression, but it’s taught me that we ALL have struggles and no one is immune to suffering.
4. It’s not only exhausting for us, but it’s exhausting for the people around us.
This isn’t a statement to guilt you or me, but it’s just a fact. During my experience, I found that I focused so much on myself that I forgot that the people around me were empathizing and experiencing my depression with me. They didn’t suffer the same experience or feel the pain that I endured, but they were definitely right there fighting this battle with me.
Depression is exhausting for everyone because they’re doing all they can to help support you. Sometimes with the glimmer of hope that they may be able to help save you. Your significant other is in this with you because they are watching the love of their life suffer and this can be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting.
You aren’t alone in your experience. Everyone around you is on this journey with you and they all want you to get better.
5. As much as it hurts, depression can lead you to eliminate behaviors which originally contributed to it.
This might not be your truth, but personally, my depression comes from my many insecurities. I had a hard time coming into myself, and I would ruminate on this so much that it worsened my depression. I would think about what people thought about me, where I was in life, and I would even compare myself to friends, etc, etc.
This lead me to despair.
Now because I know these behaviors are damaging I’ve worked on eliminating thoughts and habits that I know will contribute and lead to depression.
If you can identify the behaviors that are leading to your depression, you can work on developing coping mechanisms so you’re better able to handle situations and control your thoughts.
By developing these coping mechanisms you will become an enlightened person knowing and identifying the areas you can control.
6. Memories of depression come back every so often.
People have told me that I’m over my depression now, so everything should be okay, or in other words, “just forget about it.”
The thing is many people don’t understand that even though my life may be in a better place now, the memories of being in the hospital for depression haunt me. I think about how long my medication will keep me well or if I’ll ever relapse and if that does happen, “How much more mental-suffering can my brain endure before the damages are long-lasting?”
These thoughts invade my mind ever so often and with every person I meet. I wonder if they can sense that I’ve been through that pain. This also makes me want to avoid people and situations that might expose that I’m not “perfect.”
This is my reality. Depression doesn’t just go away. There are memories that come back and remind us that we were once in a place we never thought we would get out of.
7. Depression might have scarred you in ways you wish it hadn’t, but your story can and will help others.
I sometimes ruminate on my past and feel ashamed. The world has come to romanticize mental illness so much, that many feel that if you’ve overcome it, “Why be ashamed?” They might condemn the person who reveals that depression can be embarrassing to talk about because of the stigma.
But depression, as an individual experience, isolates and brands you as the person who might have been unable to keep a job, someone who takes medication, or even suicidal. There are a whole host of things that people use to shame individuals who have suffered.
However, my story can help someone who may not know how to cope with how they’re feeling or encourage them to reach out for the help they need.
My story could be the reason someone chooses to keep going.
Depression has hurt me, but it’s also taught me that there’s still hope and there will always be hope; even if it’s on the other side of suffering.