Before You're Ready to Get Help for Depression

The other day, I spent all day in bed. I stared at the wall, the ceiling and out the window while I laid on my bed and could not move. It’s not that I didn’t want to move — I really and truly did — but I woke up feeling empty inside and it turned into a crushing emptiness that physically prevented me from getting up and moving.

The thing is I have depression, and while it normally doesn’t inhibit my functioning to this extent, this particular depressive episode was overwhelming.

I started out the day feeling apathetic toward everything and was able to eat breakfast and watch an episode of “The Office” before I felt it settle into my bones. I closed my laptop, laid on my side and stayed like that for the next six hours.

It’s moments like this where I no longer doubt my condition. I’ve never seen a therapist or been on medication, but I know how I feel is not “normal.” It shouldn’t physically exhaust me to spend an hour doing anything remotely productive, even if it just means doing a load of laundry or going to a class at school. I shouldn’t have such low self-esteem to the point I feel like nothing I do is good enough for anyone. I shouldn’t feel urges to self-harm. I shouldn’t want to sleep all the time.

The moment I truly recognized I was experiencing depression was six years ago when I found an online quiz that calculated the risk you had for certain types of depression. A disclaimer stated it was not a real diagnosis, but the answers I had been confronted with were clear. I had symptoms and markers of four different depressive disorders.

It’s been years and I still don’t know what to tell people. My parents don’t know what I’m dealing with — my sibling has depression too, and sometimes it feels like one child with a mental illness is more than enough. Besides, how am I supposed to tell my parents that even though my life is pretty good and logically, though I know they love me, I still feel broken inside and I can feel it eating away at me? This guilt is what keeps me from telling them. I don’t know how to tell them how often I think about how a coma would be a good solution to my constant exhaustion or that I want to just disappear.

As for my friends, many of them feel similarly to me. We make jokes at our own expense. We act like our self-deprecation is a joke because if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’ll probably break down into tears.

Still, despite all that, I like to think I’m in the process of getting better. I may not be on medication now but I might be in the future. And that’s OK. Right now, I just try to remind myself that developing depression is not my fault and that’s OK.

However, until I can bring myself to get help, I’ll just be thankful that those debilitating moments of depression are not a commonality in my life. Usually, I can get out of bed and make it through the day. I can put a smile on my face and blame my exhaustion on not getting enough sleep. I can give off the impression of sympathy during my moments of apathy. That’s not to say that I’m doing any better than anyone else, though. I know that I should still get help and my “good days” aren’t to be equated with happiness or being healthy. I know the struggle with depression looks different in everyone and what works for one person won’t work for another.

Everyone’s depression is different. If you’re on medication or even if you’re not, it’s important to recognize you’re not alone in this fight. If you want to tell your friends and family, getting their support could be the best thing you’ve ever done. If you want to keep it to yourself for the time being, that’s completely your decision. If you want to eat a bag of chips because you don’t have the energy to make some healthy food, take pride in the fact that you’re at least eating. If you need to sleep all day today, that’s OK and you can try to face the world again tomorrow.

Today, I’m going to try to not let the depression win, but if it does, I’ll fight again tomorrow.

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