Depression is hard. It’s really hard for those of us who suffer from it and it’s hard for our loved ones who don’t understand it. Here’s a short list of things that we wish you knew.
1. Depression is an illness. And in many cases, it is extremely difficult and serious. You wouldn’t judge someone who’d had a stoke for not being able to get out of bed and tackle their day to day activities, would you? No. You wouldn’t. Just because you can’t always “see” the illness, doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid and debilitating thing.
2. Let’s talk about it. Whether you’ve noticed our depression or we’ve shared it with you, talk to us about it. Brushing it under the rug only creates a larger stigma for depression and mental illness.
3. We’re good at hiding it. We could win an Oscar with the smiles we’re able to fake. We will try to convince not only others, but also ourselves, that everything is okay and completely fine. You might even find yourself envious of our energy and enthusiasm we seem to have. But inside we feel sad, alone, lost, drained, and terribly unhappy.
4. You’re an important part of our healing process. Our family, friends, and loved ones are our support systems. You are one of the most important parts of our healing and daily battle. Every time you are there for us, or make us laugh when we are feeling our worst, it helps us feel better and not so alone. You make all the difference.
5. We may lash out at you. And we’re sorry. We try really hard, but sometimes depression gets the best of us.
6. This isn’t for attention, and we aren’t being lazy. There are days when we are so numb it’s exhausting. Sometimes our bodies physically ache. We would give anything to not feel this way and not have to fight this fight. This is an illness, not laziness.
7. We might be hard to get a hold of. Or we might even cancel plans we actually want to be a part of. It’s hard to put into words, but sometimes we just can’t. Continue to reach out anyways, please. Even if it’s just to let us know that you’re there when we’re ready.
8. If we are doing something that is creating an issue for you, please talk to us about it. If we are doing something that’s bothering you, please don’t just peace out of our lives.
9. We often self-medicate. Eating? Not eating? Drinking? Shopping? We will try anything that we think we make ourselves fell better, even though we know it won’t be permanent.
10. We can’t sleep, we can’t stay awake. Often times we are so caught up in our feelings of sadness, that we have these mind racing thoughts about EVERYTHING that is bothering us and thus cannot sleep. It sucks. We could be completely exhausted and still not sleep. Other times, we may be so emotionally drained from depression that we are tired all the time. It also sucks.
11. There isn’t always a reason. And it isn’t your fault either. Sometimes we’ll cry. Sometimes we’ll feel an overwhelming numbness. But please try to refrain from saying things like “I try so hard and I don’t understand why you’re still sad”. We know, it’s not you. We probably don’t even know the exact reason ourselves. We just know this is something that we battle with every single day.
12. We understand that this not only affects us and that it’s hard for you too. We know you’re trying your best. Thank you.
13. Depression isn’t like the movies. I’m not some beautifully broken soul that can be saved by a hero on a white horse. Stop romanticizing depression and instead truly educate yourself. It’ll help us more than you know.
14. It’s a process. We have good days and we have bad days. Depression doesn’t just go away. We can seem happy one moment and totally disengaged the next.
15. We’re not good at expressing how we’re feeling. But know we appreciate you. We’re not good at telling you when we need you, we’re not good at explaining our feelings, but we have no idea what we’d do without you- our support systems. Thank you for encouraging us, for sticking by our side, and for loving us just as we are.