31 Things We Want the World to Know About Depression on World Health Day
On World Health Day, April 7th, the World Health Association is highlighting the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide — depression. So on behalf of the 300 million people who live with depression, we wanted to send a message to the world, from people who actually live with depression.
We’re not hiding. We’re not ashamed. When educating other about depression, don’t forget to include those with lived experience. There’s a lot they want you to know.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “How tired I get, even when I’ve been in bed all day. I have high-functioning depression, so life exhausts me period, but on the weekends I need to spend a lot of time in bed to ‘catch up.’ I’m not lazy, just tired from having to try and function typically all week long.” — Joselyne S.
2. “It’s not always constant, I can be happy for a period of time then get hit by it for no obvious reason. The smallest thing can push you over the edge and fighting it is the most exhausting thing ever. That exhaustion from fighting depression can lead to a depressive episode.” — Amy C.
3. “On my bad days, I’m trying my best. Sometimes that’s going to class or work, sometimes that’s curled up on my bed; it’s still my best. I had to learn to consider being alive a victory when my depression makes me feel like I’m suffocating.” — Kaylie C.
4. “You can’t always see it. When I say I’m tired, I do mean physically exhausted. I also mean I’m exhausted from fighting with myself mentally.” — Adriana R.
5. “It’s not just feeling sad all the time. It’s feeling nothing. I can keep a smile on my face and crack jokes and laugh, but inside I’m really constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.” — Liz A.
6. “How hard everything is. From standing up and getting dressed to having a conversation and even smiling. All while I look ‘fine’ from the outside. Because it is not just a little tired or a mood I can snap out off, but an illness I did not ask for or deserve. If people knew that, it would be easier for them to respect my efforts to communicate my boundaries, accept my requests for being left alone and to stop giving me well-meaning ‘peptalks’ and quoting motivational memes from the internet…” — Cynthia V.
7. “I wish those that don’t experience it could understand how hard it is for me to function when I’m in a hole. Just because I ‘seem happy’ doesn’t mean I really am. I have three kids and a husband and a life. I can’t lay in bed all day, staring into the abyss, even when that’s all my brain and body need from me. I love my family and they are a huge source of happiness for me. However, I am rarely, truly happy, but I am very good at pretending, because sometimes that’s all I can do.” — Courtney W.
8. “People with depression sometimes just need a hug or a meal made for them. Don’t ignore them until they are out of their ‘funk.’ And when they say they are just tired… it’s not usually from lack of sleep. Don’t say go to bed earlier. ‘Tired’ is the acceptable thing to say when you mean — ‘I can’t stand being awake. There’s a void in my stomach that feels like it might suck me into oblivion. Sleep helps me get through suicidal thoughts. I wake up and start fresh.’ We may not be tired but no one seems to want to hear, ‘I’m sad for no explainable reason. I’m weighing pros and cons of life in my head.’ — Autumn H.
9. “How exhausting it is. How despite all my efforts my brain is my enemy, constantly chuntering badness in my head. How frustrating it is when my thoughts are so tangled that I can’t express how I’m feeling. How somedays just the simple act of getting out of bed is insurmountable no matter how hard it try. The guilt of not being able to do the simplest of tasks and feeling like a burden to family and friends. I want people to understand how hard it is to keep fighting every single minute, every single day. How I have to constantly stop myself just ending it all. I want them to understand that it is an illness, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be depressed and anxious so how can they expect me to just ‘snap out of it’?” — Heidi B.
10. “Saying ‘cheer up’ is the same as telling the tide not to come in and expecting it to happen.” — David L.
11. “The constant drain on my energy, wellbeing and mood. Currently I’m in about my sixth week of a severe ‘episode,’ and I’m struggling so bad. I get up, get the kids ready, work evenings, do all the things I have to do, all while feeling like a big, useless, worthless, stupid, can’t do anything right person who is even afraid to go to the doctors, cos I feel like they’re sick of hearing my name. Currently sitting here trying to summon up the energy to get changed for work and crying because I just don’t want to go. I can’t think straight.” — Emma D.
12. “I can’t just snap out of it. Trying to force me to be social because it will ‘make me feel better’ is the worse thing someone can do. I know how much of a drag I can be when I just want to sit at home… I know how lazy I look when I just want to lay in bed… I know how pathetic I seem when the only other living being I want around me is my cat. I’m permanently exhausted. And I can’t change that. There are days I feel ‘accomplished’ when all I really did was take a shower!” — Kate M.
13. “Fighting depression wears you, when I’m sleeping all day or taking naps I’m not being ‘lazy,’ I’m trying to keep myself alive. Fighting off the suicidal thoughts and tendencies take a lot out of you.” — Aron W.
14. “It’s a battle I so much want to win, fighting against your thoughts is one of the worst things ever. I wish people would understand that living with depression is not a choice or a moment of weakness… I keep telling myself tomorrow will be a better day and I will be OK, but sometimes it is so hard to function. — Lili P.
15. “Depression isn’t just being sad. Depression is feeling nothing and everything all at once to the point that you can get overwhelmed and your brain just kind of shuts down.” — Paige L.
16. “It’s not easy to fake a smile for the rest of the world to think you’re OK. It’s exhausting to have so much on your mind and just have to say you’re fine. Everything suffers because of it. My sleep. My work. My friends. I may look fine but I’m not. Inside I’m drowning and there’s no lifeguard.” — Dani B.
17. “It’s OK to still include me on their lives and events or hangouts. Just because I might say no doesn’t mean anything. It means a lot to know people still want me around and that I’m still thought of even if I’m struggling.” — Nikki L.
18. “It’s as real as any other illness. Depression may not necessarily kill you, but it is an illness and a very real health issue. So many people write it off because it doesn’t necessarily manifest in physical ways, like if I’m physically healthy, I must be perfectly fine.” — Shannon R.
19. “Just because I seem OK, maybe even happy on the outside, really doesn’t mean a thing. On the inside, I could be struggling.” — Mary K.
20. “I can smile and laugh like everyone else. I’m just faking it at times. I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I struggle to feel happy all the time. I just want to go hide and pretend the world doesn’t exist.” — Katie C.
21. “Maintaining my appearance of being ‘OK’ so I can do things like going to work is exhausting. So if I’m home and need to let myself cry, don’t make me feel worse because my emotions are showing.” — Erin N.
22. “I don’t need your pep talk, criticism, bossing around, questions. Sometimes I just need to talk and know you’re truly listening to me. That even if you don’t understand you’ll be supportive.” — Julie T.
23. “That it’s not easy…ever. Sure you’ll have your good days, but the exhaustion and overwhelming feelings of dread will always come back and I guess you just have to learn to deal with it.” — Cody H.
24. “I feel like a burden to those around me. I can smile and do what I’m supposed to no matter how hard I’m struggling. You may not always see it, but it’s a daily battle that I’m fighting.” — Ashley K.
25. “As someone who is recovering from depression it’s not something I make up. And I’m definitely not faking it. I’m living with it everyday because I wake up everyday hoping today isn’t one of those days where I will feel depressed. If not yay. If I am than it’s a terrible thing I have to deal with. If you don’t have to great for you but don’t undermine my condition because you don’t have it. Everyone has to deal with different things in their lives.” — Monica S.
26. “I have not chosen to be this way, did not choose to be depressed. I would not wish this on anyone, even someone I don’t like.” — Karen D.
27. “It’s not just a state of mind, it’s not just an attitude, it’s not just about being a little sad. — Missy G.
28. “I wish I knew how hard it was to ask/receive help. How there are good days and bad days, bad days and worse days. How you feel guilty about being depressed and how your brain turns against you. How you feel hateful and sad at the same time.” — Emily D.
29. “My ‘victories’ some days are as small as managing to get out of bed to have a shower, and other days can be as big as performing my music in front of a crowd. It all depends on how I feel and no, I can’t ‘switch it off’ and ‘just be happy.'” — Emma Z.
30. “It can exist behind smiles.” — Sukriti T.
31. “Talk to someone. Reach out. You matter. Depression is exhausting. No energy to drive, take a walk , shower, eat or make food. You can lose weight without trying. Poor quality of sleep. Trouble falling and staying asleep. It’s isolating. It affects you physically as much as mentally. It’s scary. It’s lonely. Kids can get depression, too. No one is immune. Any age gender race religion. It can get better. There is hope. Always.” — Jessica S.