My Public service announcEment
Here’s the main misunderstandings that I’ve encountered in dealing with my depression, and here’s what I have to say about all of it.
1. It’s not a choice to feel sad. Or to feel angry at the world. It’s not a broken perspective or negativity. It’s not self defeating behaviours. I mean, those can exist in conjunction I guess, but that’s not why depression exists in a person. Those things are a result of suffering.
2. Having depression doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t mean that your brain is broken. It might mean that your heart is. But it doesn’t make you any less of a human being. And it doesn’t make you less worthy of anything good in life.
3. Depression does not look like you might automatically think. Sometimes it looks like cancelled plans over and over. Sometimes it looks like anger all the time. Sometimes it looks like crying often. Sometimes it looks like an extreme calm. Sometimes it looks like cries for help. Sometimes it looks like nothing.
4. Not all people with depression need or want to hear that you “understand.” I speak for myself and many others when I say that you don’t know the first thing about what my suffering looks like. And that’s okay. That’s not your fault. I wouldn’t want you to. But i also don’t want to hear that you understand. Or that you’ve been there. Because you haven’t stood in my body and felt my heart hurt. You haven’t felt my mind drown out the rest of the world. And that’s okay.
5. You don’t need to fix me. I’m not broken. I don’t need to be carried. I need to be loved. I need my hand to be held. I need to learn to love myself again.
6. Depression doesn’t have a time line. It is not linear. I don’t need to have “gotten through it by now.” Healing is a marathon, not a sprint.
7. Being on medication does not make me weak. It means that I was strong enough to ask for help and acknowledging that I couldn’t do it on my own.
8. Depression doesn’t always make sense. I need you to understand that I don’t always make sense when I’m not okay. My inability to understand and process my own feelings and thoughts is hard enough without trying to explain it all to a world that doesn’t understand- that can’t understand. And that’s okay. I’m learning to forgive myself for not always having the answers.
9. There’s no handbook on how to survive a bad day. Bad days look different for everyone. Mine look like the fetal position in a parking lot on the way home. They look like laying on the ground outside. They look like sitting on the floor of an office or on the deck. They look like anger and resentment. They look like annoyance. They look like despair.
10. Just like there’s no handbook on how to live with depression, there’s no handbook on how to love someone with it either. It’s not easy to watch. It’s not easy to sit with someone in their darkness. But it’s necessary. And even when I can’t describe for you how important your existence is in that moment, please know that you make a difference for me every time.
Lastly, and most importantly,
11. Depression is not the fault of anyone involved. It’s not your fault for having it. It’s not your families fault. There is no fault. It is an entity of its own with its own agenda. But you are here in this moment for a reason. Your pain is not your fault. Your anger, your sadness, your disappointment, your grief. None of these things are your fault.
12. Depression does not determine where you will go in the future. It does not determine who you are. It does not equate to and is not contingent on your failures and successes.
I just felt like I needed to put this out into the universe. Maybe it helped someone. Maybe it just helped me find some peace today. But either way, its out there.
I am not ashamed to be who I am.
I am not ashamed to be open about the debilitating monster that lives in my mind. I am not scared to talk about it.
Silence is where fear grows, and I’m not scared of fighting for my happiness.