Everyone knows someone who has depression. It could be a friend, co-worker or family member waging a battle in their mind all on their own. Here are 10 things people suffering from depression wish others knew:
1. Depression has many faces
It's not always laying in bed with a tear-stained pillow; sometimes I'm at a party, standing in a corner and feeling completely alone. Sometimes, I'm surrounded by friends and still feel empty. My depression is also the overwhelming guilt of saying no when my friends or family invite me out with them on a beautiful, sunny day. Just because I'm not crying doesn't mean I'm not struggling.
I know when you make suggestions about my health, diet or other habits, you're trying to help. But to me, it sounds like you're saying I'm doing something wrong that needs to be fixed. I know that going outside and getting some sun will help, but I didn't develop depression because I hid in the shadows.
Sometimes depression hits and I feel as if I just lost a loved one. It can last hours or even days, for no reason at all. It is exhausting physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes, I can't pull myself out of this pit I've fallen into.
4. It doesn't always make sense to me, either
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about my depression is that it doesn't have to have a reason. I don't have to have lost a loved one for me to feel like I did. Saying things like, "What do you have to be sad about?" only makes me feel guilty for feeling this way.
It's not easy to admit I have depression. I know there's a stigma about it all, and I hate feeling like "one of those people." But when you have depression, you already feel alone. I don't need any more reason to feel like I've been abandoned, so I try not to be ashamed - but it's hard.
6. I'm more tired of it than you are
I know my mental illness is exhausting for people around me, but it's even more exhausting for me. I don't use my struggles to get your attention; if anything, I do my best to hide my struggles because I am keenly aware of how tired the people around me are of hearing about it.
7. I'm doing the best I can
I know you don't think I'm trying - especially on my really bad days. I know that staying in bed all day doesn't seem like I'm trying at anything. I have learned to measure successes much differently than most people; getting out of bed, taking a shower and putting on clean clothes are all successes for me. I know it doesn't seem like it to you, so please be patient with me.
Things and activities that used to be fun for me don't give me as much joy as they used to, but that doesn't mean I'm not trying to have fun. Believe me, I want to have fun and do things that bring joy. It feels as though I have involuntarily grown out of my childhood toys, and people around me are upset that these toys don't give me the same joy they did when I was a young child. I know it seems silly - believe me, it's silly for me, too.
I am not my depression. It is simply a part of me. Sometimes it feels like it takes up all of me, but that's just the depression speaking. My depression does not define me, my fight does. I know you miss the old me - the me that went out and had fun with you and laughed at everything. But I am still that same person, and it's easier for me to remember that when I have your support.
10. I still love you
If I don't text you for a week, it doesn't mean I'm mad at you. I don't love you any less. If anything I miss you. If I haven't talked to you in a while, it might mean that I really need you. Sometimes I just need you to be the one who reaches out first.
Depression is an invisible illness - a battle you never know who could be fighting. If anyone has reached out to you about their depression, remember these 10 things when it comes to supporting and loving them.
A common symptom of depression is suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one is struggling with this, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Emily Brady is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She studied Communication with an emphasis in journalism. She loves photography and finding a good book to read in her hammock on a sunny, breezy day.