Life with depression is a topic that many books, movies, and television shows have tried to portray, but the reality is so much more than you will see on the silver screen or read in the pages of your favorite young adult novel. For the approximately 16.1 million American adults affected by Major Depressive Disorder, this is our daily struggle.
Life with depression is different for each of us, but there are a number of truths that appear to hold true for a vast majority of sufferers. These truths are often hard to talk about as they reveal the sad truth about what is happening in our minds, and how we struggle to keep pushing forward. For those who haven’t experienced it first hand, these truths open a door to understanding our experience and why it can be so difficult to keep smiling and acting like everything is ok. However, for those of us who are suffering, hearing someone confess to these truths can make us feel heard and understood.
Having battled this monster for a good majority of my life, I know first hand how difficult the battle can be. I have spent countless nights feeling completely alone, misunderstood or judged for my disorder. I have sat alone in the dark, overwhelmed by a lifetime of emotions after spending all day feeling completely numb.
By sharing these truths, I hope that I can help to pull back the curtains providing a glimpse into our world. If you are currently watching someone you love struggle with this illness, I hope that this helps you to understand them a little better. For those that are battling first hand, please know that you are not alone. I’ve been there, as have countless others.
12 Difficult and Heartbreaking Truths That Depressed People Avoid Talking About:
#1 – Nobody has the power to simply ‘fix it.’
Depression isn’t one of those ailments where you struggle until you discover some magical ‘quick fix’ that frees you and releases you from your pain. While medications and therapy may help to provide some relief, it’s like a Band-Aid that is helping me to handle the situation here and now, but that’s not to say it will continue to work the same tomorrow. Furthermore, the Band-Aid solution that works for me today may not work for someone else tomorrow. It’s an ongoing experiment to simply find peace.
#2 – My depression makes me selfish at times.
I’m not a naturally selfish person, however, there are times that my depression is going to make me one. There are days that it is going to take everything I have simply to get out of bed and face the world. On these days I’m going to be in my own head to the point that I honestly can’t look past my own struggles to see what’s going on around me. To my friends and family, I am truly sorry. I know you deserve my attention, please don’t think I am taking you for granted. I know I have an amazing support system, it’s just hard some days to show it.
#3 – There are times that simply ‘not being here’ really does sound like a good option.
Sometimes when things are particularly dark, when I have hit a new low, what I really want is to simply ‘not be here.’ It’s not that I want to die, in fact, personally, I find that the concept of death in those moments may not even pass through my mind, I just want to be anywhere but here. I want to stop feeling, stop experiencing this pain, just stop. I want to escape my depression somehow, some way – but there is no way running away from it, it’s always there. I just want a break, a LONG break.
#4 – My depression is not a choice that I am making.
Far too often depression is brushed off as being a choice that those suffering have made, and the key to moving past it is to simply choose to be happy. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works… at all… If I could choose to be better I would, but depression is an actual diagnosable mental illness. Not only would I not choose this struggle for myself, I wouldn’t choose it for my worst enemy.
#5 – I will often seclude myself from the outside world.
Just at the moment where I genuinely need the love and support of the people in my life the most, I will begin to pull away. When times are darkest I will stop calling, texting, or hanging out. It’s not that I don’t WANT your help, there’s nothing I want more at these times then to have you here by my side. However, at my lowest points, I am ashamed of how far I have fallen, and I may even question whether I deserve your support. If you feel as though I am getting distant, please reach out.
#6 – The idea of relying on medication for my happiness sucks.
When we think of medication, we associate it with being sick. No one WANTS to have to take it, but we accept that relying on that little chemical fix will save us from our allergies, fight off our cold or relieve our headache. Now imagine trying to accept that you need to rely on a medication every day for an extended length of time, possibly the rest of your life, just for a chance at happiness. It makes you feel like your own body is failing you… Not exactly something that’s easy to accept.
#7 – The process of finding the right medication can make me feel like a human test subject.
The catch to using medication to treat mental health conditions like depression is that not all people respond to the same medications in the same way. The meds that may work best for me could actually cause a negative reaction in the next person and visa versa. The only way to see if a specific medication will work is through trial and error, waiting to see how my mind and body will respond. It’s a process that leaves me feeling at times like a human test subject, being poked and prodded with no end in sight.
#8 – My biggest enemy is my own brain.
Some people struggle with feeling judged, attacked or bullied by family members, co-workers or other people in their lives. With depression, I feel the same struggle but the voice that is tearing me down is within my own mind. It follows me around everywhere I go and is with me every minute of every day. There is no escaping it.
#9 – When I am struggling I will give up the things I love most.
Everyone that struggles with depression has signs that they are slipping into that black hole once again. For many of us, an obvious sign is when we begin to pull away from the things that we are most passionate about. For me, my true love is music. As a musician, there is nothing that can bring me more peace on a regular basis. However, when I am slipping I will stop playing, retreating to my dark place. Some people will stop eating, lose their passion for work or give up their favorite sport. Whatever it is, when you no longer find enjoyment in the thing that usually makes you the most passionate, that’s a major red flag.
#10 – I spend much of my life feeling guilty for my depression despite the fact it isn’t my fault.
There is no one ‘at fault’ for depression, no one actually made it happen or created the problem. Despite knowing this fact to be true, I spend a lot of my time dealing with extreme feelings of guilt. I feel guilty for burdening friends and family, for failing to keep up with my daily routine, for making self-destructive decisions, and for not being there to care for everyone else at the times in life that I am too busy trying to manage my own struggles. This guilt eats me up and may even prevent me from getting help when I need it most.
#11 – Telling me to ‘suck it up’ doesn’t help, it just makes me angry.
If you were having a conversation with someone that recently broke their leg you wouldn’t tell them that they just need to ‘suck it up’ and walk it off. No, you would expect them to seek medical attention, wear a cast, allow themselves to heal and take medication for the pain if necessary. Why is it that physical ailments and mental ailments aren’t met with the same level of understanding? I am sick, it’s not something I can just shake off.
#12 – I’m sorry, but it’s going to suck being the person dealing with me at times.
I’m not writing this to claim that I’m the only person that’s dealing with a crappy situation. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For the friends and family members that are trying to support me and help me in any way possible, the co-workers that are working through my challenges, etc., I know that this isn’t always going to be easy. I’ve been the person trying to love someone with depression before, and I know how difficult that can be. Try to remember that there is nothing you can do to solve it all, as much as you would like to. What I really need is for you just to be there right now.