The Lies I Believed When I Was Depressed
It’s no surprise depression lies, but then again, there’s no rulebook for depression either. For me, some lies changed over time. Once I realized I needed help, my depression had already convinced me getting help was too embarrassing, never mind that I wasn’t strong enough anyway.
When I decided to get help for the first time, I went to student counseling services at my college, and my depression told me I was helpless. That wasn’t enough though, because a couple of weeks into counseling the guilt set in. This time my depression told me I wasn’t depressed enough to be putting extra pressure on the already strained counseling available at my college. I walked out of my therapist’s office every Thursday, and my depression reminded me I wasn’t special; in fact, my therapist was probably relieved to see me go. It didn’t just last a day or two, it lasted months and years. When they told me fighting depression wasn’t a hopeless battle at all, my depression told me I was the exception.
The lies I believed weren’t entirely false. I believed I was alone because my depression pushed away my friends and told me to stay in bed. The more time I spent alone, the more I was convinced I was incapable of connecting with other people. If I wasn’t feeling as lonely as I thought I should, I had an arsenal of sad songs to reassure me that I was, in fact, a tortured soul. I fueled my melancholy by playing Twenty One Pilots and Bon Iver tirelessly. I had about a 15-minute walk to my therapist’s office, which was plenty of time for Coldplay to convince me I was sad and needed to be seeing a therapist.
I got to the end of my first semester of college and graduated from therapy, convinced I was fit as a fiddle. Then I cried for hours as my depression told me my therapist was happy he never had to see me again. My depression was happy to have me back though, so I resumed my comfortable ritual of crying on Christmas for the third year in a row and listened to every word my depression had to say.
By the time I reached my sophomore year of college, I felt like my depression had swallowed me whole. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept smiling for my doctor and convinced him the drugs he prescribed had transformed me into a healthy, well-adjusted college student. My depression put forth a convincing argument for how much of a failure I was on the daily, so I didn’t want to make my doctor feel like he had failed to treat me. My depression wasn’t just lying to me anymore; it was lying to my professors, my friends, my colleagues and anyone who might threaten to help me.
My breaking point wasn’t the dramatic scene Hollywood had sold to me; instead it was quiet and lonely. My depression told me that my Physics homework was never going to make sense to someone as lazy as I was. It told me that I was the only one struggling with my classes, not because of my depression, but because I lacked the necessary discipline. My depression pinned what felt like the weight of the world on me and told me I was on my own.
I later learned I had never been further from the truth.
During my stay at the hospital, I started to gain some perspective on just how many lies I had amassed. I had never had so many people standing around me before in my life. I met other patients who knew what I was going through. Nothing changed except I was now able to see the help and support that had always been around me. There was no epiphany, but rather a process of reflecting on how my depression had lied to me about more than just sadness. I’m not mad at my depression and I’m not mad at myself. Rather, I’ve decided to focus on what I know to be true; depression or not: I am worthy of success, support, love and life.
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