Depression is something that millions of people face every day of their lives. It’s way more common than many realize, yet, the stigma surrounding it is unreal. I personally have depression, and I have been vocal about my diagnosis for years now because I refuse to let something so serious get hidden under stigmas and invalidation.
Even though I don’t hide the fact that I have depression, there are so many things that people don’t know about my illness or how I handle it. Here are some things I wish more people understood about depression, because I know I’m not alone in my battle with depression, and I know that nobody else will this illness is alone either.
1. My depression turns me into somebody I’m not.
Depression is really manipulative. It can, and it does turn me into a person that I don’ t know, and that I don’t like. It makes me impulsive and careless, and it makes me numb and empty, and I am none of those things. When I’m going through a hard bat with my depression, I wish people understood I’m just as uncomfortable with the way I am acting as they are. I’m unhappy with my demeanor and I’m unhappy with the way I react and make other people feel. But, I try to the best of my ability to work on it.
2. My depression is just that – it doesn’t define who I am.
Being depressed isn’t a title. It’s a diagnosis, and that’s it. I will not let my diagnosis dictate how I see myself or how I let others see me. I won’t let my diagnosis stop me from accomplishing the things that I’ve dreamed of accomplishing. It’s not something that I necessarily ‘suffer’ from 24/7, it’s just something that I have, and something that I manage. While some days are hard, others are even harder. But, I won’t let it control me, I won’t let it be the boss of my life.
3. I need you to be patient with me.
I’m going to be honest, managing a mental illness is hard. It’s even harder when you’re trying to figure it all out along the way. Nobody is born with a manual on how to deal with being mentally ill, and having to deal with one and learn about it at the same time means that I’ll make mistakes, and I’ll get frustrated with myself and everybody trying to help me. I’m sorry, and I need you to be patient with me. I can’t do this alone.
4. Therapy and medication might not always work, and that’s normal.
The first time I went through this, I thought the idea of getting better was completely useless. I learned soon after that this is normal, and that I’m going to have to try every single form of therapy and multiple medications until one really works for me. I’ve been trying to manage my depression for about five years now, and I’m just starting to learn what helps and what doesn’t.
5. Depression is terrifying.
I’m scared of my depression, and I’m scared of who my depression turns me into. I know that my depression scares those close to me, but trust me, it scares me the most. Turning into somebody who you don’t know and don’t like and letting doctors probe into your life and prescribe you different pills that they don’t even know will work is terrifying. It’s scary, but it’s a process, and I know that it won’t always be this scary.
6. Just because I have depression doesn’t mean that I won’t be genuinely happy on some days.
This was something that surprisingly took me a while to realize. While being mentally ill involves a lot of sad and anxious days, there are also a lot of really happy days. Sometimes I find myself being really, genuinely happy for no reason and those are the best days. They happen, and I hold onto those days with everything I have.
7. Recovery is non-linear.
There will be good days and there will be bad days. I’ll take two steps forward and four steps back, and it happens a lot. It’s normal. Managing depression is a constant battle between moving forward and getting pulled back and people don’t realize that. Just because I was doing really well last week doesn’t mean that I’m doing really well today. Everything happens one day at a time, and that’s what more people need to understand.
8. My depression is not your fault.
It is a flaw in chemistry, and it is not your fault. I don’t want people to blame themselves for my depression because they think that they did something to trigger it or make it worse. It took me forever to stop blaming myself over it, but I’ve realized that a brain chemical imbalance is to blame, not a person.
9. Depression isn’t just sadness.
Depression is a mix of every type of emotion known to humankind in the worst way. It’s getting angry over nothing and laughing when you’re supposed to cry. It’s a lack of tears and weak knees and not being able to get out of bed for a few days. It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve had to get used to it, and now it’s my life, but that’s okay.
10. I want to stay alive.
Regardless of what I might say on a bad day, I want to stay alive. I have so many things I want to do and to create before I die and I don’t want to cut that short, ever. Being mentally ill can smother any motivation to do everyday tasks and sometimes, even to live, but don’t take that seriously, and know that it’ll pass.