Many people are unaware of the painful reality that those of us suffering from depression have to deal with every day.
As anyone who's ever had to deal with depression can telling you, it sucks. People are always romanticizing depression and making it out to seem like this amazing thing that inspires the most beautiful art and music, but as someone who lives with it every day, I can tell you that it is not inspiring at all, not in the least. It is painful to be constantly reminded that I'm a little less normal than I'd like to be and to realize that I can't take a lot of things for granted. But I manage to get by with a lot of help from my therapist and my loved ones.
For those of you who think that depression isn't all that bad, here's a reminder of what it's really like.
Depression isn't something I can turn on and off like a switch. I didn't come into this world making a conscious choice to be depressed. I can't blame a traumatic or painful moment in my life as the reason I'm depressed. It's just the way my brain works, and I can't predict when it's going to send me spiraling into self-defeating thoughts. Not every sad event gets me depressed, sometimes even happy experiences trigger negative thoughts and I find myself spiraling into depression.
Depression isn't a cramp I can walk off and feel better. Getting me to think happy thoughts or distracting me with fun things may not help, and in fact, they may sometimes even make me feel worse. I can't cure it by changing my diet or getting more sunlight or finding a hobby that finally dispels the sadness. My depression is here to stay and I need to learn to deal with it every single time it shows up, which is quite often, actually. Not everything I do to fight it works all the time, and I need to constantly find new ways to overcome it and deal with it.
It's hard to watch the faces of the ones I love contorting in pain as they try to frantically come up with ways to help me. I see them making the effort to show me support whenever I'm going through a particularly hard time, but they often feel like their efforts bear no fruit. And that may actually be the truth because even I have no idea sometimes about what my loved ones can do to help me out when I'm in the pits of depression.
Being aware of the fact that taking my medication every day is what keeps me going can sometimes be scary. I may depend on a pill to function normally on days, but I also know that without it, I'd find it much harder to battle my depression, and I'm grateful that I have something I can rely on. However, the process of finding a medication that works for me can sometimes feel a little dehumanizing as I feel like the subject of medical scrutiny.
Struggling with depression often means I'm so caught up in my own head that I can't be there for the ones I love. I can get exhausted dealing with my own demons, and this often gives me little time to help other people out with their own issues. I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not the best friend to have around, but I've learned to be compassionate with myself and give to the best of my ability. The people I love understand me, and they have realistic expectations from me, and that's all that matters.
All the things that once gave me joy, gave me some purpose and meaning in life have now lost their appeal to me. Depression can make even the most exciting things seem bleak to me, and I struggle to find the motivation to do the things I once loved. I may have once been a voracious reader, but I can't remember the last time I picked up a book. I used to love waking up early and heading to the gym, but now I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. I try to return to the things that made me happy, but it just isn't the same.
But it isn't because I'm weak. Perhaps, the scariest struggle that people dealing with depression face is the desire to end it all. Whether it is giving up on living a full life, a full-time job, or just giving up the motivation to get out of bed, depression is physically and mentally exhausting. Thoughts of ending it all is not an uncommon symptom. I've learned to immediately talk to someone who can help me whenever I face these issues, but it can be a scary thing to go through when my brain seems to working against me.
To anyone who is struggling with similar symptoms, I urge you to seek help immediately from a mental health professional and to tell a loved one what you're going through. And to anyone who feels like they finally understand why depression is such a painful condition, I hope you are able to be more understanding and compassionate with people you know struggling under the burden of depression.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.