It is hard to describe what feeling depressed is like. It varies so much for different people. For me, there are days I feel like I have a heavy weight on me and I cannot move. The simple act of getting up is overwhelming, as is anything else I might try to do. Other days it is just a pervasive sadness. I might put on a happy face for the sake of those around me, but inside, I feel a physical weight of sadness.
I did not want to admit that I might be dealing with depression for a long time. There is such a stigma surrounding being depressed. I didn’t want people to think I was broken or that something was wrong with me. Even once I was willing to take on the fact I was depressed, it took time to find the right combination of medications so that I finally began feeling some semblance of normalcy and stopped dreading getting through each day.
Ten Things I Want You to Know About Depression
There are many things I would like to tell you about being depressed, but that could take a whole book. Here are the top ten things I want you to understand about my personal experience with being depressed.
1. Your problems will not cause me to be depressed
Many people feel like they should not share their problems with a friend who suffers from being depressed. This is absolutely not the case! Being depressed is not caused by feeling sad about something going on, and your willingness to include me and confide in me will actually be a pick-me-up. I want to be a loving and caring friend, too!
2. Depression is very complex
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to who suffers from depression or how to treat it. It does not care if you are rich or poor, black, white, or purple. It can affect anyone. Adding to the complexity is that there is no one cure-all for it. Every person is different and needs different combinations of therapy and medicines to deal with it.
3. I need you
Even on days where I act like I do not want anyone near me, or where I do not even want to get out of bed, I need you. A text, phone call, or even a meal can mean the world to me, even if I cannot properly express that it does. So please, never feel like I don’t need you, because I do.
4. No one is an expert
Even if you have been around people who are depressed, you are not an expert. How it manifests is vastly different from person to person, so how your Aunt Milly reacted and what worked for her may not be how I react or what works for me. I know you are well-meaning, but understand that even doctors don’t fully understand what causes people to suffer from being depressed yet.
5. There are no magical fixes
Being depressed cannot magically be cured by getting outside more and going for a run. While these activities may help, there is no magical fix that suddenly will cause a person to overcome depression. It is important that I be in touch with myself and sometimes force myself to do activities I do not feel like doing to keep myself physically and mentally healthy, but this will not fix everything.
6. Depression is an illness
You know the compassion and empathy you give your friends who suffer from cancer, lupus, or fibromyalgia? I need the same empathy and compassion. While you may not see my illness manifest physically, it is there every day and I have to treat it every day.
7. I can appear happy
Being depressed does not mean I walk around sad all the time. It does not mean I have a cloud of darkness always surrounding me. I can laugh, joke, and have fun while still being depressed. I also can be grateful for my life and my circumstances despite being depressed.
8. There is no permanent cure
While I might overcome depression for a day, or a week, or a month, it comes in waves at times. There is a natural ebb and flow with being depressed. I can take medicines and get help to reduce those ebbs and flows, but there is not a permanent cure yet.
9. It isn’t just in my head
Just like you could never fully explain the pain of childbirth to someone who has never had the experience, you cannot fully explain being depressed to someone who has not experienced it for themselves. There are no words that would fully bring you into what I am experiencing. Nonetheless, my experience is real and not just in my head.
10. Do not walk on eggshells around me
Laugh with me, cry with me, share your secrets and your sorrows. I want to be a part of your life, and I cannot do that if you are always walking on eggshells around me.
I hope this gives you a glimpse into what depression is and isn’t, and how you can better interact with those who are struggling with being depressed.