What Is It?
Depression sucks. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s real. And constant. And no, it doesn’t mean that we all lay in bed all day eating bowls of sugar and crying until our eyes are bloodshot. News Flash America: Depressed people are usually the “happiest” people you know. But,more about that later. I want to describe what living with depression is like on a day-to-day basis. In order to do this, I have to be really vulnerable and transparent.
All I ask is that you don’t insult us by saying that depression isn’t real or that it can be fixed instantaneously if we’d just try hard enough.
Everyone experiences a bout of depression at some point in their life. Some are fortunate and their depression is purely situational. A breakup. A lost job. However, others of us get stuck. Have you ever reacted to something without really knowing why? Like when you see someone attractive, do you sit down and analyze if it’s because the distance between their eyes is perfectly symmetrical or their earlobes are unattached? Of course not. Those of us with a genetic predisposition for depression adopt a more negative mindset without truly realizing it. Things make us sad almost subconsciously.
A song reminds us of a past hurt or a careless comment sends us into a spiral of self-doubt. I know depression is real because I don’t wake up every day choosing to have a cloud over my head. I don’t choose to have zero energy. I don’t choose to have no appetite or to feel drained after the smallest interaction with other people. I think depression is caused by falling into a worldview that takes a LOT of time and effort to recognize, stop, and reverse. And many psychologists and psychiatrists believe that it also has physical, chemical causes such as a lack of neurotransmitters that those with “normal” brains have. Therefore, don’t just tell us that we need to start thinking happy thoughts and smiling and then everything will be okay.
Most of us are doing our best in therapy and taking medications to improve our lives but it’s hard. Imagine how draining it would be to have to analyze all your thoughts and make sure they’re all “kosher”-to unlearn so many things that have become second nature. It’s not easy.
But we’re not pity-parties.
I don’t sit in dark corners all day and listen to nothing but sad songs on repeat. I don’t seclude myself for attention. I don’t cry when my toothpaste runs out. No, I put on a mask. And I smile. And I make jokes. And I dance around. I do what it takes to make people think that I’m normal. Maybe that’s why social interactions are so exhausting for us.
And no, we’re not being fake.
We want to be happy. We wish we were… Plus it’s not fun to ALWAYS have EVERYONE asking what’s wrong. We don’t always have an exact answer. You ever have a test or some other appointment coming up that you just weren’t exactly looking forward to? You can chill with your friends, laugh, and have fun. But as soon as there’s a moment of silence. you remember that you still haven’t studied for your test and you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Depression is like that. People think that if we’re able to laugh, we have the ability turn off our depression whenever we want. But just like a test, depression waits in the back of our minds and resurfaces whenever it gets the chance.
So here’s what NOT to say.
Depression is something to be coped with over time. So please don’t tell us “it’s not that bad” or that we should be happy because we have good lives. You may look at a man who has millions of dollars, nice cars, and a private jet and say he has a beautiful life. However, if that man knows that he has no one that genuinely cares about him to share his many possessions with, what you think doesn’t really matter. Our level of happiness is affected by our own PERSONAL perception of our lives.
Talking at me and ordering me to be happy only makes me feel isolated and ashamed which makes everything worse. Also, please don’t keep asking what’s wrong constantly. It’s not that we don’t trust you. We know how frustrating it is to carry depression around all day. We don’t want that for anyone else-especially the ones we love. We don’t want to unload any unnecessary burdens on anyone which is why we do our best to keep our problems to ourselves most of the time. It’s so that people don’t start viewing us as a huge storm cloud that they have to put up with. After a while we worry that we’re becoming an obligation that people are nice to for fear that we will harm ourselves or something.
Also, please don’t make fun of victims of depression as invalids that cry all the time and can’t handle life. Don’t get me wrong crying spells, feelings of worthlessness, and all-or-nothings mindsets are very real things that we have to deal with on a daily basis. You wouldn’t make fun of someone with Alzheimer’s for forgetting things so please don’t make fun of us for our struggles.
But it’s all going to be okay.
I don’t want this to be a sad article. I want it to be a real and honest one. I want it to make people more aware of their words. Their thoughts. Their stigmas. After reading this, depression may still not be real to you and that’s fine. But it is to me. All day. Every day.
Sometimes, it envelopes me and I can’t think about anything else. Other times, it’s much more manageable and I can almost forget for a while. Either way, it never completely goes away. At least, not yet. But I’m trying and I believe that I’ll get to a healthy place one day where life can happen to me and I’ll meet it head-on without a care. In the meantime, please be kind.