4 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Struggling With Depression
I’ve been meaning for some time to write a piece reflecting on my experience with a severe bout of depression last year. I had struggled with depression since my early adolescence, but a bad reaction to (ironically) the antidepressant I was taking put me into the worst state of physical and mental depression I’ve ever been in, all while living at a university several hours from home. When I realized it was this week a year ago that I had to leave college unexpectedly because things had gotten so bad, I was inspired to write a few things I wish I had heard when life looked so bleak.
Here’s what I would tell myself:
1. People will be oddly silent when you tell them what’s going on.
This will be disappointing and hurtful. They don’t know what to say. It’s a lot to take in, after all. They feel uncomfortable. They are young. It will make you will feel even lonelier. I’m so sorry. But you are strong and self-reliant and there will be a few people who try to help. No one can fix you, but eventually, you and your family will figure out the changes that need to be made. You life will slowly get better, and though the struggle will never fully fade, you will be a survivor, even if people don’t recognize the battle. Don’t forget your own strength and don’t let other people’s weakness keep you from being honest.
2. You have value even if you are ignored, excluded, glossed over, belittled and rejected.
Even though you like yourself deep down, you question your value and put yourself down. Your mind goes in circles trying to figure out why you didn’t get chosen for that club or elected for that office or asked out by that boy. People can be selfish and cliquish. I’m sorry about that, self. It really sucks and will frustrate you for the rest of your life. But you are strong and talented; you will find your place one day. People don’t have to recognize your strength and value for it to be true. You wouldn’t stand to see other people’s value belittled, so why do you berate and abuse yourself?
3. People can be jerks sometimes, but that’s a reflection on who they are, not who you are.
Friends will sometimes make underhanded digs about how you sleep all the time. Don’t let their lack of compassion get to you. If they were real friends, they would be concerned, not critical.
4. It will be a long journey to healing. You will lose a lot that’s precious to you, but you will also gain so much.
While it has been undeniably painful to have so many doors closed in your face, and you’ll ultimately have to give up one of your dreams, you will eventually find new opportunities and blessings in the unexpected detour you were forced to take. You will have a story to tell. You will develop a more compassionate heart. You will learn to live a healthier life. You will find new dreams to chase.
For anyone else out there who is struggling, here are some words I wish I could have heard when I felt there was no hope: Your life matters. You are valuable. Your life is worth living. Your problems are legitimate. You are not alone. You deserve better. You are loved.
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