Why My Depression Is Not a 'Choice'

Trying to find a way to fit depression into your life when it rears its gnarly head is a difficult thing. Depression isn’t a friend you want to invite over for slumber parties or let it know when it has something between its teeth. Why would you want to? Why would you choose to sleep in the same room with a darkness that only you can see? Why would you choose to give depression the attention it doesn’t deserve? The thing is, those of us who have experienced depression learn this condition is not a choice.

On the days the illness holds me captive and I sleep the day away, the weight of depression doesn’t give me the choice to sit up in bed. Sometimes depression doesn’t give me the option to get out bed. Depression often doesn’t allow for the everyday routines most people move through without thought – brush teeth, shower, commute, work, laugh, talk, live.

It took over 10 years of living with depression before I realized my depression wasn’t something I chose. Because it’s an invisible illness, people who silently live with depression tend to self-stigmatize. Why can’t I just get over this? It’s been weeks. Why am I not strong enough to pull myself out of this? What’s wrong with me?! Thoughts like these circle my mind seemingly endlessly, and the negative thinking keeps the wheel of depression spinning. How do you explain depression’s nastiness and persistence to people who don’t have firsthand knowledge of its social numbness?

Something I believe we can all understand — whether living with mental illness or not — is that every moment is a gift and ought not be wasted. A person sans depression can be reminded to not take [insert a word indicating something special to them here] for granted, but as a person who has been living with depression for over 20 years, I have come to acknowledge and treasure the moments when I feel OK. Feeling OK is special. As someone with depression, feeling OK is a privilege.

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