My father was depressed his whole life; clinically depressed, majorly depressed, diagnosed-to-his-face-but-always-denied-treatment depressed. My mother is the anxiety-gripped daughter of a clinically depressed woman. I was raised by two depressed parents in a very, very, very, sad and hopeless environment. Since coming to college, I have also been diagnosed with depression. Maybe it is because of the environment I was raised in, maybe it’s the genetically determined levels of neurotransmitters in my brain, or maybe it’s my perceived lack of love as the dreaded middle child. Maybe it’s all three, or maybe it’s none of those.
The best way I can describe depression is a negative perception filter. Everything that you receive becomes converted into this dark negative cloud that you cannot shake. Let me be clear: you cannot simply shake off depression. It surrounds you, it fills your head, and it heavily weighs on your entire body.
Since wrestling, denying, and finally coming to terms with this part of me, the question of why has become less important as the question of what now? I have stumbled many a times on this healing journey and it is a journey. Even when you accept treatment, it is a hard fought battle.
It’s hard to search “depression” online and not feel belittled by society’s perception of mental illness. So in hopes of reaching out to anyone else who has been, is currently, or will ever be on this journey, here are 10 things I have slowly come to learn:
- If you are depressed, or wrestling with depressive symptoms: you are not alone. The CDC reports that 1 in 10 adults with experience some type of depressive episode in their lifetime.
- Having depression does not make you weak, un-lovable, unworthy, useless, ungrateful, or anything else that dark cloud may tempt you into feeling.
- It is terrifying to admit you need help. It is terrifying to let yourself truly feel the depths of your depression.
- Therapy is painful, it is revealing, it is humbling, but most of all it is
- Antidepressants are not happy pills. Many people, including myself, benefit from them but they are not right for everyone and are certainly not a quick-fix-easy-way-out-cure.
- You do not need to justify your depression. There is no valid nor unworthy reason to be depressed.
- Jarrid Wilson is right: “Boredom is depression’s playground.”
- You are not obligated to tell anyone about your depression, but it is helpful to have some friends to check up on you now and then. It will surprise you how supportive your friends really are.
- Any kind of exercise helps. Walking, running, biking, yoga. Whatever brings you joy.
- God loves you deeply at all times, and this does include when you’re depressed: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18