People who suffer from depression live two separate lives – 1. The life that everyone out there in the world sees and, 2. The life that only the sufferer sees.
To someone who has never experienced depression, there is a huge misunderstanding. They see depression as just being sad when things don’t go your way, like when you lose someone you love, when you don’t get the job you wanted, or when a relationship ends. Those things do not define depression; they define sadness, a natural human emotion. To someone who has or is experiencing depression, it is so much more than that. To us, it is not being sad when things go wrong, it is being sad when everything is going right. For people with depression, this is a hard thing to talk about. It is so hard that it seems as though no one is talking about it and that can be dangerous. Depression must be talked about. It must be talked about until it is understood by all.
Although we seem to live our daily lives through social media these days, we don’t see depression discussed on Facebook or Twitter or the many other avenues of social media. We don’t even hear about it on the news shows. Why not? That’s easy. Because it’s not fun. It’s not happy. We read on Facebook that someone can’t get out of bed today because their back is hurt and we all comment and tell them we hope they feel better tomorrow. But, we don’t see people comment that they can’t get out of bed today because they have no reason to, they don’t want to talk to anyone, that they can’t stand the thought of being around people. What would happen if people posted that? Would we be as quick to reply? And if we did, would the reply most likely be to tell them to get up off their butt and go do something fun, to go enjoy themselves, to remind them that they are blessed and should be grateful for what they do have? Most likely, it would. And that reply, my friends, does absolutely no good to someone who is depressed. However, that lack of help is through no fault of your own because you just don’t understand depression. You don’t know that it’s almost impossible for a depressed person to merely hop out of bed and go enjoy themselves because you haven’t learned what true depression is. Believe me, if we could get up and just go have fun, we would. But, we can’t and we don’t. So, we remain in our own little locked-away world where we are safe from others. We think that by isolating and not going around other people, at least we are not being a burden or we are not disappointing someone else. That is the blessing, and the curse, of the depressed person.
Because you do not see depression in others, you do not see the dangers. You don’t see that every 30 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide because they just can’t stand the thought of living another day being depressed. It may not happen in your neighborhood, it may not happen to anyone you know, but somewhere in our world, it is happening. And until we all discuss depression, until we all understand depression, until we all learn to overcome depression, it will continue.
At some point in the life of a depressed person, we most likely are going to contemplate suicide. For the lucky ones, it is only contemplation. But, it occurs again and again. It occurs when, to the outside world, everything is right in our lives, when they think we are happy people. Yes, we see the “us” that you see – the successful teacher, the successful business person, the happy mother or father, the happy grandmother or grandfather, the sister or brother, the friend, the jokester, the person who helps others. Yes, we see that person. But we “know” the other person who lives in us – the one with self-doubt, with self-contempt, with fear, with no reason to live, with no desire to carry on, always afraid that someone will see through the masks that we wear and they will discover the unworthy person that we feel is the real us. That fear is real. It is constant. It is draining. It is life-threatening. It is all those things and we keep it hidden from you because we fear the judgment, the rejection, and the condemnation that is sure to come when you find out the truth about us. So, nobody talks about it and the depressed person dives further and further down into the deep, dark hole of depression. Friends, this is happening all around you –to people you love, to people you think are happy, to those you least expect of being depressed. They are embarrassed so they are NOT going to willingly tell you about it. Perhaps they will have some type of episode in which it will not longer be possible for them to hide the truth from you. When that happens, you MUST learn about it. You MUST talk about it. You MUST confront it. You MUST get that person some help. Or you MUST learn to live without that person. If it is YOU who lives with depression, find one person you fully trust and can talk to. Pour your soul out to them. Tell them your fears. Let them show you that you don’t have to hide your pain. Let them help you. Contact your doctor. Find a mental health therapist. Do something. Do not just live in your own head.
Does learning about depression and getting help for the depressed person mean that they are “cured”, that they will never feel those feelings again? No. They may be one of the lucky ones. They may recover from their episode of depression and go on to lead a real life. But, most likely, depression is something that will remain with them. It may hide out in remission, but it’s always there, always hiding behind the next corner, the next unkind comment they receive that throws them back into a life a self-judgment and self-hatred, or the next life-changing event that causes that demon of depression to rear its ugly head again. Depression is like that annoying uncle who comes to Thanksgiving dinner who everyone wishes they could just not invite back, but they know he’s family and they can’t ignore him. Depression is that voice inside you that you can’t ignore. Depression is all the feelings that you can’t escape. Depression is the fear that you will be “unmasked”. It is there. It is real. And it can be debilitating.
After a while, all these feelings become “normal” and they become a part of our lives and we think nothing of having to live that way. The worst part is the fear we hold of being found out and the stigma that goes along with being labeled as someone with depression. But, the world needs to learn that someone who is depressed is not someone to fear. Once labeled, the depressed person does not stop being that fun person you used to like being with, the person you love, your co-worker, or the good mother or father that you’ve always admired. That person is still there. That person just happens to live in the same body and mind of another person who is filled with constant fear. Have you noticed that society accepts any body part breaking down except the brain? If someone breaks a leg, we rush over to sign the cast. If we learn that someone is depressed, we turn and run from them as fast as we can. That is pure ignorance. That is the stigma of depression. Go read, learn, talk to someone with depression, talk with your family, your pastor, your friends – just go talk about it. Find out the real facts of depression. Be a part of the “fix”.
Remember, we all know what it’s like to hurt, to have pain in our hearts, and we all recognize the importance of healing. Until we learn to accept ourselves and to accept others, our world will never be ok. I hate to live a depressed life. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. But, I have learned from my depression. I have been so low that I learned that there had to be something better. I have learned that I am sick, not weak. I have learned that my depression is an issue, not an identity. I have learned that it is a part of my life. But, I have also learned to have faith. And I will NOT give up the faith.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I am proud of the insight that I have gained through my therapy. I am proud that I continue to fight the fight, even when I don’t want to. I stumble. I fall back into the hole occasionally and have to restart my climb, but I am proud that I can talk about my depression and not keep it hidden any longer. I am willing to put myself out there for ridicule by those who refuse to understand, not because I want to, but because it is part of my healing.
TODAY’S FEELING BAROMETER: Today has been filled with introspection. Having written about Mom yesterday was tough. I was unable to sleep well last night because my mind was filled with memories – both good and bad – of Mom’s life. But, I awoke this morning with happy thoughts of the Pink Pig and that is a good thing.