6 Essential Points for Understanding Depression

I have known for years that I struggle with depression, but it is still hard to believe. I never wanted this. Growing up I was negatively affected by people with depression. I told myself that I would never be like them so as not to also hurt those around me. Like most people, I did not understand depression.

Depressed woman

1. Depression is a very common mental illness so learn more about it to help us out.

I know I am not alone with depression because 14.8 million American adults also struggle with depression. Every single person’s depression is different, but they all have common elements. There is so much that people close to me don’t understand about depression. So, when they get hurt, assume, judge, or even try to help it can end up hurting both of us.

2. Despite what you may think, a positive person can struggle with depression.

I am a positive and happy person. Because of this, many people have been surprised that I struggle with depression. There are two reasons for this:

First, I put on a mask. If I am in a dark place, I avoid hanging out with friends and family. Then, when I do spend time with people, I act like everything is normal. I don’t want to be seen in my darkness.

Second, depression is not being sad all the time. Majority of the time I’m not sad. I am simply numb. I am not motivated to do anything. It reminds me of the dreams where I am running in slow motion, unable to speed up, although I’m being chased by something. I’m watching myself thinking, “What the heck is wrong with you! You are letting everything you have worked for slip away!” But, I can’t stop the numbness so, consequently, I sleep the days away.

3. The last thing those of us with depression needs or wants is you to fix it.

My biggest pet peeve is someone trying to “fix” me. I appreciate that you care enough about me to want to help. But, unless you are a licensed therapist, you shouldn’t tell me how to handle my depression.

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What I do need is your friendship and love. Your simple texts, phone calls, and time spent together have meant the world to me. Keep doing what you have been doing. That is enough.

4. Despite treatment, chronic depression will always be a lifelong mental illness.

I’ve had people respond to my depression by saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize that things were so dire in your life.” Or, “There are so many worse things that could be happening to you.”

… Ugh…. Just because I have depression does not mean my life is awful. My life is pretty good right now! I secured a new job in addition to having a wonderful husband.

I understand that people have difficult things in their life that can make them depressed. But, my depression is not a phase, it’s chronic. Like chronic pain, taking some medicine and resting for a couple of days isn’t going to make it disappear. I am learning to manage my depression with medicine and counseling, but it will never completely go away.

5. It’s not you, it’s depression. It is a numbing and isolating illness.

Being numb all the time makes me want to be alone. There are times when I don’t want to do anything and that is acceptable.  Most of the time I love talking and spending time with people. But, my depression and anxiety take a lot of my energy. Please don’t find offence, because it has nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with me and my depression.

Also, and most importantly, I am going to be okay. Depression sucks! But I am learning to deal with it and I have been for years. From jr. high through today I struggle with the numbness, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and tendencies. This is not something new in my life. I am currently receiving significant professional help which is allowing me to better manage my depression.

6. You matter and make a difference in my life!

Because you mean so much to me, I need you to understand my depression. Talk to me about it. Ask what you can do for me. But remember, you can’t take my depression away, but you can love me even when I have no desire to love myself.


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