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When Depression Recovery Makes You Question if You Are Surviving or Thriving

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Dear depression,

You have been part of my life for longer than I care to acknowledge. You are my worst enemy, pretending to be my best friend. I feel like things are not true especially with the people I love.

You tell me I am not good enough, I am not lovable, I will never be good enough. I have tried ways to make sure you are not there, that you are no longer part of my life, but you always succeed. As a result, You make me feel like a burden. You make me feel misunderstood. Sometimes you make me think people talk about me behind my back, laughing at me, judging me. You tell me nobody in my life cares and everybody would be better off without me here. You scare me.

I am so over you!

I know I am loved, I know I am wanted. I am sick of depression clouding my judgment, clouding my thoughts. It’s hard to push the positive feelings forward to the front of my brain and acknowledge you have the strength to sometimes keep them back, terrifies me.

Words mean nothing when depression overtakes me, actions are all that matter. Today I will stop fighting with you! I have learned some valuable lessons, but now it’s time to leave. In a way, you won the battle, but I have won the war. I will continue to speak about depression. I will overcome the obstacles you throw at me.

I miss my old life, the old me. The happy me, bright and smiley me. This is my life, not yours! I am ready to take back the reins.

Sincerely,

Nicole

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via serkan6.

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Depression in College: How Taking a Break From the Sport I Love Has Helped Me

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“Please. I need someone. Anyone. I need someone to hold me. Tell me everything is going to be OK. Will it be OK? I just don’t know anymore. Embrace me. Hug me. Until this toxin is released from my mind, soul, heart. Cleanse me from this poison. It fills me up more and more every second I’m here. It’s filling fast and I feel myself getting too full. It’s becoming dangerous. Please suck it out of me. I’m drowning from the inside, out.”

This is an excerpt from my journal back in June 2016. I was living with depression, and I didn’t even know it. I knew something was wrong, but I pushed it away in hopes that it got better. It didn’t until I got help.

When some people hear the word “depression” they might not think much of it, they might even roll their eyes. They might think, “It can’t be that big of a deal.” I used to be that person. Before I was diagnosed, I never thought depression was something that could ever happen to me. Throughout my life I always found myself to be a genuinely happy person. I mean, of course, I felt sadness and loneliness like any other person, but I never envisioned my life to be completely enveloped by those two feelings. Someone once said to me, “People with depression and anxiety don’t talk about it if they actually have it. If they do talk about it, they just want attention.” I now realize that this is completely false. When you actually do have depression and anxiety, you do want to talk about it but sometimes you just don’t know how. Because even you don’t understand what is going on. Most of the time you feel so confused and lost. You spend hours sobbing into a pillow, thinking about nothing and everything. You can’t really pinpoint your reasoning for crying other than just existing. You have anxiety attacks when you have to go out into public, especially bigger crowds. You need constant reassurance on your relationships with people. You are in a constant state of loneliness even when you’re around others. You feel so lonely, but you also hate being alone at the same time. You just want to be better, but you don’t know how. You feel like you’re battling the world on your own. Sometimes you wish you weren’t even in this world at all. You pretend your life is amazing when you now you’re not happy. Because it’s easier to fool everyone else than to fool yourself. You cry by yourself because being “weak” just isn’t an option. You don’t let your mom know that your number one fear is disappointing her. Or let yourself sister know that all you want from her is to hug you so tightly until you can’t breathe anymore. How do you explain to others that crying is hard for you and that when you do cry you cry for hours? When you battle with a mental disease by yourself, one day you will crash.

Since the middle of last semester my depression has gotten worse. It was so bad that I had no desire to play golf, and those who know me, know golf is my life. People have been confused on my sudden lack of desire for golf, but it is not so easy to explain. For the past two months I have not even come close to picking up a golf club, and it should make me sad but it doesn’t. These past two months without golf have actually been relaxing, and I have gotten to know what being a “regular” college student feels like. While a break may seem like a scary concept, it can be one of the most important and rewarding parts of your training. The time away from golf has given me the opportunity to reflect on why I even love this game in the first place, but today I have decided that my “vacation” has to now come to a close. I am happy to say I am starting to get in a better place mentally, and I am ready to start practicing and regaining the love and desire that I once had.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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To My Classmates, From the Girl You Didn't Know Was Hurting

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I’m the girl who sits in the back of the classroom with my friends, always a huge dopey smile across my face. From the outside, I look fine. Unless I tell you what I’m going through, you will never know. I refuse to let you think less of me because of my struggles.

So, you think I’m happy. What you don’t know is how many times during class I plot ways to escape to the bathroom so I don’t break down in front of everyone. You don’t see the breakdowns that occur when I’m all alone. You don’t know how one fight, mean comment or diss can turn me into a weeping ball on the floor.

I couldn’t expect you to know. That’s not fair.

What I have noticed is as soon as I open up to you, you become a lot nicer. Why is that? Don’t you think we should treat everyone with the same respect and kindness? Does someone not deserve your love because they seem happy?

Here’s a secret. People who look happy on the outside, still hurt sometimes. They still have feelings and their own personal struggles.

The girl in your class who always seems happy can struggle with depression. The person you look to for comfort can have anxiety. The hard part is when it’s not noticeable, so it becomes ignored.

Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

It’s kind of funny actually. Ever since I noticed the signs in myself, I have looked for them in others. It shouldn’t take a label to make us care about each other. Letters and words don’t change what we’ve gone through. They just call attention to it. People can be hurting without having a name for it.

Don’t mistake someone’s tough exterior for a “perfect life.” Don’t assume someone’s smile isn’t followed by tears.

Maybe if we looked out for each other more, we could help each other. So, who are you going to help today?

Love,

Your goofy, but hurting classmate.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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24 Things to Do When Depression Won't Let You Get Up in the Morning

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The alarm buzzes, beeps or sings — and it’s your cue to get up for the day. Whether you allow yourself a few extra warm minutes under the covers or need to spring out of bed to get to class in time — when you need to, you’re probably able to get out of bed and start your day, even if you’re a little grumpy about it.

But for many people with depression, this “simple” act of getting up in the morning is more than an inconvenience because you just want “five more minutes” — it can feel nearly impossible. When you’re struggling with depression, it’s sometimes not a matter of when you start your day, but the fact that you have to start you day at all. But just because you have trouble getting out of bed doesn’t mean you’re “useless” or that the day is ruined. To find out what can be done when the weight of depression tries to keep you in bed, we asked our mental health community to share one thing they can do when it’s hard to get up in the morning.

Here’s what they shared with us: 

1. “When depression makes it hard to get out of bed I try to give myself a few small goals to accomplish. Like shower and put clothes that aren’t pajamas on, turn on some music or my favorite show and make myself sit somewhere other than my room. Actually get up and make breakfast (or lunch depending on what time I end up getting up).” — Mariah S.

2. “I tell myself my puppy needs me to get up and take care of him because without me he has no one to take him outside or feed him. Even if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t abandon my responsibility to take care of him.” — Cassandra D.

3. “Honestly, I just force myself. I pep-talk myself. And if I get up early enough I’ll open the curtains for natural light and brew coffee. But after an hour of being up, I get exhausted so I usually have to go back and lay down to rest up.” — Eden L.

4. “I put on some fast or uplifting music that makes me want to get up to dance and sing because it makes me feel alive, and nothing else matters when I listen to music. Can’t be anything too introspective though.” — Ethan J.

5. “To get myself out of bed on especially hard days, I look at photos of things that make me smile: friends, family, pet, good times, etc. This helps remind me there are things worth getting up for.” — Sandy S.

6. “Although this isn’t something I do for myself, I normally leave my door closed when I sleep so a lot of mornings I’ll wake up to my dog crying outside my door because he wants to come in to see me. This is really motivating since it makes it so I have to get up and open the door, not only to have him stop crying, but it also makes me excited since there’s someone who is so excited to see me first thing in the morning.” — Kira M.

7. “On those days, I narrow my list down to as little as possible and allow myself a nap if it’s just for 30 minutes. I might add an extra guided meditation, and I make sure self-care is my top priority for the day.” — Amy L.

8. “I remind myself getting out of bed helps me get out of my head… going to work, going on a drive, seeing my family or friends, seeing my dog. I remind myself that depression doesn’t have to be my reality. I remind myself that there are people who love me and will be by my side the second I call (even if I still question that fact in my mind constantly). I remind myself today is just a day and it’s not the end of the world if I truly can’t make it out of bed… tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do what I couldn’t do today.” — Allison L.

9.Just feed the pets, grab a water bottle and some food and you can go back to bed. Maybe I will push for a shower and clean clothes…maybe not. Taking one day off is OK…the deal is that I get back into it tomorrow.” — Samantha S.

10. “Honestly, I haven’t yet figured out that one ‘aha’ mechanism that I can use on demand when my depression gets bad. So for now, I let it take reign, consume me, wash over me or however you want to say it. I just lie there and let the thoughts rumble. I ruminate and am actively aware I’m struggling, but I truly have zero physical and mental power in those moments to change how low I feel. But I do know that eventually the rumbles turn into rolls and the rolls into distant ripples. And then I check my phone and see unread texts from my parents asking me to ‘acknowledge’ them or ‘to go outside,’ so I roll my eyes and finally get out of bed. If you can’t tell, I’m having one of those moments right now.” — Betsi L.

11. “I forget about tomorrow or the next day and just worry about today. I look at how many hours I have to put in, where I have to go and what I have to do. Basically, I look at it as rationally as I can and pep talk myself into it.” — Mallory T.

12. “Try to make just a goal of taking my meds, drinking enough water, getting enough movement/blood flow and maybe, taking a shower or even putting on makeup, even if I just get right back in bed when I’m done.” — Lizzy G.

13. “I promise myself an afternoon nap and an hour of chilling out. I plan a few things so that the day goes steadily. I plan an easy meal for the evening so that I don’t feel addled when making it. Also, I have a puppy who needs to be taken out.” — Julie B.

14. “I reach out to the people who know I struggle and tell them I’m having one of those days. Isolating myself makes everything worse. It helps having someone there, even if they lay around in bed with me. It brings a sense of peace and brings me back. As much as I hate talking to people when I’m down, it’s always so worth it. Even if they don’t talk, it’s all I need.” — Krissy U.

15. “Small goals like sitting up, getting out of bed, showering and making sure I reward myself mentally for achieving those goals. If I can’t even do that I ask for help. Having people in my life who understand and just surround me with love when I need it because sometimes the only thing I can do is send a text.” — Belinda S.

16. “I remind myself of my amazing wife. I hear a lot of people tell me I have to take care of myself first, but when depression creeps on I am worth nothing. That’s how it makes me feel anyway. So I remember the love and acceptance of my wife. And that’s how I get out of bed every morning.” — Bridgette W.

17. “I get up in micro-movements, talking myself through each step: sit up, sit on the edge of the bed, stand up, walk… then I keep doing that as long as I need to.” — Sheri K.

18. “I think of the reasons I have worth living. I remember all those times I made it out of depression and that motivates me to get up and keep trying. I try to work towards my goals despite depression. I just being it along for the ride.” — Hiram M.

19. “I take a bath or a shower. And that always feels like a major accomplishment on days like that. And I allow myself to feel like it is a victory, because anyone with depression knows that’s exactly what it is. I always feel a little better after I’m fresh out of a bath, no matter how small, the point is I feel better.” — Ashley M.

20. “I make a list of small things to do so I can have that sense of success, and eventually move on to bigger projects that need to be done. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. But it works a good amount of the time for sure.” — Wendy Y.

21. “I force myself to get some form of exercise. Whether I go for a walk or hit the gym, I just force myself to get a workout in. Most of the time that helps me get through the rest of the day. But if I end up spending the rest of the day on the couch, it’s OK.” — Michelle B.

22. “On those days, I think of three things that I can look forward to or accomplish that day, even if that means just getting a cup of tea and reading a book somewhere quiet. I can tell myself that I did it, that I got through it.” — Megan B.

23. “I open my blinds and the window. It helps me. Or when I finally get out of bed just stepping outside or opening the door for a few seconds helps me realize the world is out there.” — Jennica M.

24. “I stay in bed. It doesn’t undo the hard work you’ve done. You just start again in the morning. Sometimes you need to just have a ‘you day.'” — Chloe-Jane W.

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The 4 Words That Showed Me Someone Cared When I Was Struggling With Depression

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Several years ago, I went through a deep spell of depression. I felt hopeless. I found myself on the edge of giving up. I decided to talk to two people: my doctor and a priest.

My doctor gave me medication. I told the priest upfront that I am not Catholic, but I thought he might understand. He talked to me for more than an hour before asking for my phone number. He asked me if he could text me. I said yes.

For the next month, almost every day he texted me “How are you doing?” And I answered honestly. Sometimes I rambled on. A few hours later, I would receive another text, “How are you doing now?”

He gave me advice only when I requested. He didn’t try to change me. He didn’t try to save me. All he did was ask “How are you doing?” Those four words told me at least one person cared.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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How I'm Learning to Navigate a New Relationship With Depression in the Mix

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As I sit here on our lazy boy, legs extended, laptop in lap, Kevin is wiggling his butt and waving his arms around the living room with a huge smile on his face exclaiming, “It’s dance party mode!” I’m in the midst of a depressive episode. He’s trying to make me laugh, and it’s working.

I hadn’t been hit by depression until about two months after Kevin and I started dating in May. It was magical — unbelievable even. I thought, Perhaps our love has been the antidote all this time!? For the past few years, the trend has been that my moods cycled about every two weeks. Some mornings I’d bound out of bed, link up my phone to my bluetooth speaker and blast some groovy tunes before jumping in the shower. Other mornings, I awoke to my body groaning, barely mustering an email or text to my boss saying, “I’m not feeling well and I’m not going to make it in.” Guilt and shame would tuck me in a little tighter as I fell back into full slumber mode.

In those first couple of months when our relationship was sailing oh so smoothly, I told Kevin about my depression – a kind of preemptive “relationship damage control” before it hit because I knew it would, eventually.

He read my blog posts about my experience with depression and though he said he didn’t understand the firsthand experience of it, he wanted me to know he was there for me and wanted to understand the best he could. I felt reassured. Each time depression has surfaced since we’ve been together, Kevin reassures me he is here and, “we are going to get through this.”

I’ve not been in a relationship where my partner so explicitly vocalizes and expresses their presence and support when the clouds loom. When in “depressed mode,” I tend to isolate myself regardless of the support system I have in place. It goes against one of the fundamental symptoms of depression to reach out for or willingly accept support. Relationships are challenging enough. Meeting and melding together two separate lives involves emotional gymnastics and diligence through discomfort. Now throw depression into the mix.

Sometimes being in a relationship with someone who lives with depression is scary. How can you support your partner when they push you away? What do you do when they tell you they want to be left alone while clearly in distress? How do you respond when they lay curled in bed all day, sometimes for days?

Being in a relationship as the person living with depression is frightening for me. How can I trust my partner will accept me, “depressive warts” and all? What do I do when he tells me he wants to help when I feel the situation is helpless? How do I respond when he attempts to get me out of bed when all I want to do is sleep all day?

There are no clear cut answers to these questions but there are ways each partner can help their relationship through the stormy storms of depression. Kevin and I are learning how to navigate our way through the times when the thunder rolls. Sometimes he does things like yell, “It’s dance party mode!” while wiggling his butt and waving his arms around the living room with a huge smile on his face. How can I not take him up on his invitation?

Follow this journey on xo, O.

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