What I Need for My Depression, but Have the Most Trouble Asking For
The problem with our cultural understanding of depression is that it is too narrow. We see one side of the coin of depression. The “can’t get out of bed” and/or suicidal attempt is the kind of depression that gets our attention.
Why does it have to be that visible for it to be real? When depression is weighing on me so heavily I don’t believe there is any reason to live (though, of course I have many reasons), and I can’t believe any positive thing about myself (although, intellectually, I know I am a bright, hardworking individual with a lot of potential), is that not real enough? When that heaviness makes me feel so much pain and so much desperation that taking all the pills I can sounds like a good form of escape, is that not real enough?
Well, certainly that sounds real enough because the person who, on occasion, wants to kill herself by overdosing on her own antidepressant medications couldn’t possibly be a functioning individual.
Except, I am.
I wear a mask. Not because I want to. Because it’s the only way to get through the day, the only way to work with clients and stand up in front of the class and give a presentation. Apparently, I am a pretty good actress. Apparently, I have a good number of people fooled.
Yet, I need help. I am doing everything I can for myself: counseling, medication, puppy therapy, getting out of the house, reaching out to friends, keeping a normal schedule and taking (a little) time for myself. I can’t do this alone though. I need people to reach out to me.
I need the people who I trusted with my mental illness to realize the little things really do matter. I need the kind words in between classes. Hugs just because. An invitation to dinner.
However, I feel like I can’t ask for it. The number one thing I can’t stop believing is that I am an immense burden on those around me. The depression tells me I am unlovable, undesirable to be around and undeserving of others’ time. It tells me other people’s work, rest or leisure is infinitely more important than me, regardless of how desperate I am feeling. The more desperate I am, the truer that lie feels.
I don’t want to be alone because I am not good when I am alone. Not good. I remember saying those words to more than one person, and I know that it is an ambiguous, non-committal description. It means I am likely to descend into dark thoughts, and those dark thoughts have a good chance of turning suicidal. I don’t want to die. I just don’t want to feel this desperate or in pain.
Depression is isolating. It takes others not being afraid to break through that isolation.
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