Watercolor sketch of a pretty woman holding a smartphone

Most help sites promote the idea of fighting through depression. Carrying on through the storm. Positive thinking.

What is rarely spoken about is when depression temporarily wins out.

Firstly, this is nothing to be ashamed about. This is simply one of the most difficult sides of depression — and it runs deeper than the inspirational quotes or “putting a war face” on. I call them, “write off days.” These days are the kind that people who don’t have depression probably struggle the most to understand. Why on a “bad day” can’t we just make do? Do something we enjoy? Put a funny film on? Many people with depression have bad days and those things usually work.

Here’s the problem with “write off days.” The things I usually enjoy don’t even come into my mind. It’s not that I suddenly hate that band or hate that TV show, I’m just indifferent because my mind is clouded. There’s no room for simple pleasures. Switching the TV on and finding a Disney film isn’t going to comfort my mind today. Going out would mean getting out of bed, taking a shower, picking out something to wear. Seeing a friend would mean being able to think of words to say.

Some days aren’t about being a warrior.

People get sick. People have days in bed to recover — and this is what I need to do sometimes. It doesn’t make me any less brave or any less of a person. Tomorrow, the next day or the next week, things are going to get better. They will feel better. The inspiring quotes will make sense. The music will sound good again. My favorite film will make me laugh and I’ll enjoy putting on something that makes me feel good. This is the real me — I need to remember not to be fooled by the person in my brain on a “write off day.”

This is not a post about embracing your depression or letting it win. This is a post to say it’s OK to have these times. You will get better, and the way you are feeling now is temporary. Please don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s allowed.

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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

To my friends and loved ones who have been there to support me through my depression, I wouldn’t be here without you.

I feel like I can’t move; I haven’t been to work in three days, and everything feels hopeless — you listen on the phone and talk me out of bed for the first time in days.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I’m crying on the closet floor — you listen to me cry and tell me it’s OK and bring me a book that made you think of me.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I withdraw from school and hospitalize myself — you drive up the entire coast to bring me home.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I am afraid to be alone because I worry I might hurt myself — you fly into town to be with me, no matter how overwhelming and scary that is.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I quit my job and am cut off by my father — you welcome me into your home and make it mine.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I can’t breathe or stop crying and I don’t want to be alone — you come straight home from work to hold me and tell me you’re not going anywhere.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I’m lost, afraid and try to push you away — you don’t let me.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Bokeshi

The title above seems rather obvious, but for those of us struggling with mental illness, it is a cruel reality. This week, the stressors of my life, good and bad, are taking their toll. I could give you an itemized list, but then I’d stress about which really needed to be written down and shared and which seem ridiculous. I will summarize it by saying my kids and I are leaving our school in two and a half weeks, and I have to change therapists because of crappy insurance. And I don’t want to (insert full-blown temper tantrum here).

When things get overwhelming, rather than dealing with the reality, my depression and anxiety try to convince me that these issues are insurmountable, scary and probably my fault. I must not deserve to have a good therapist. I am scarring my children by switching their schools. I shouldn’t be leaving my job. I am pathetic and broken. And so I eat. And then I get mad at myself for eating (usually ice cream). And now I hate the way every piece of clothing looks on me. And I am a bad role model for my children… (I’ll stop here, but suffice to say it keeps going and going).

As you can imagine this is not healthy (understatement) and it is exhausting. I have learned skills to combat my thinking. Sometimes they work. Sometimes I am too tired to wholeheartedly try them. I know I need to, and my mind fights me during these times — and often wins. That is where I am today. Then I question my desire to even get better if it is so much work.

At this point, as much as I love my family and friends, they can’t win. Let me explain – I want them to reach out, but I have no idea what they can do. And what makes it worse is I think they are taking pity on me and only interacting with me because they are scared I am not well. I want to talk, and I really don’t want to talk. At these times, the words people have stupidly said to me (or I’ve imagined them saying) that can all be reduced to, “Are you possibly doing this for attention?” or “Mental health is not a chronic illness” come rushing to the forefront of my mind. I have to constantly remind myself this is not the attention I crave – that comes from so many other areas of my life – and this attention is miserable and not fun.

So at least for today – I’ll write. And when my kids get home I will smile, make a snack and talk with them (mask coming on). And then I’ll drag my ass to my group tonight and probably spend a good deal of time crying. Tomorrow morning I am hoping I will wake up with a different outlook, but for today, which has depleted most of my energy, I am going to give myself permission to rest.

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Thinkstock photo via gpointstudio

There once was a chicken. And also an egg. And nobody seemed to know which arrived first.

Today, the mystery has yet to be solved.

For many folks with chronic pain, including myself, it seems we are trapped inside our own chicken and egg enigma with real-life consequences. Those consequences are the devastating, debilitating and derailing forces of depression.

Roughly 50 percent of people with chronic pain also have depression, according to Robert D. Kerns, National Program Director for Pain Management for the Veterans Health Administration. Many symptoms include the feeling of loss, isolation from friends and family and fatigue.

To further complicate things, these same experiences can also be results of the chronic pain itself that have caused the depression.

Unrelenting pain can take away so many of the things and activities you used to enjoy or even rely on, making you feel you are no longer yourself. For example, my life used to revolve around yoga. I was in the studio at least four times a week getting in touch with myself as well as getting in shape. I could not remember feeling any better than I did at that period in my life.

Then I got the ground pulled right from under my feet when I was hit with chronic migraines, neck and shoulder pain seemingly out of nowhere over two and a half years ago. I haven’t done yoga since.

The practice of yoga staved off my depression that I had experienced off and on since high school, so losing it was, and still is, something I had to grieve. That grief can become long-term and turn into depression as time goes on, and  you no longer recognize the person you’ve become. So not only are you missing the things that once gave you life, you’re also missing yourself.

You also now have two conditions to treat  —  pain and depression  — that are separate in one way but completely intertwined in another.

This creates a snowball effect. Actually, no, it creates a blizzard.

Pretty soon, you don’t know where you are, who you are or what’s ahead. This feeling can make your physical pain feel so much worse. This pain then makes you even more depressed than you were before, and the cycle continues.

And when I look back, I can’t see a damn thing.

The person I used to be and the life I used to live is something completely foreign to me now. This experience and this pain is all I know. At 28 years old, I’ve involuntarily taken on the role of a shut-in aside from going to work, which in itself is a challenge. I no longer socialize with my friends because it’s exhausting and painful. I no longer exercise because it’s exhausting and painful. I no longer clean my apartment or go to the store or travel because it’s exhausting and painful. If I have to do those things, I pay the physical and mental price for days. And the cycle continues once more.

Then, of course, you wonder: Would I still have this depression if my chronic pain was treated?

At this point, it is hard to say. It has become so ingrained into my being that I can’t imagine anything else. I can’t imagine not crawling into bed right after work and staring at the ceiling for hours until I eventually fall into a horrible and restless sleep. I can’t imagine picking up my niece and not cringing in agony. I can’t imagine going for a jog and not feeling my collarbone begging to burst out of my chest.

I long to do these things more than I can even describe. And that longing is painful and heartbreaking.

And, once again, the snowball flies down the hillside.

I don’t know what lies ahead or if there is calm after this storm. I’ve been continuously let down by false hopes from doctors and I’ve spent countless minutes in the car crying after a diagnostic test turned up negative.

I obviously still need to believe there will be relief one day. But until then, I tumble in the cold.

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Thinkstock photo via chaoss

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

What didn’t they tell me? Sorry, but quite a lot actually.

She told me about trembling, dry mouth, weight loss and the lack of energy.

“Lack” should be in capitals spread across the page. Like it’s the main part of the article.

The side effects for the first week are excruciating, sorry to say.

They don’t tell you about the lack of motivation, hopelessness and worthlessness that arises upon you while you’re battling through your first week. In fact, you may feel worse than you were when you started.

As a young, depressed 17-year-old, awaiting the freedom of leaving the dreaded school year, this last year is making me feel immense pressure I’m trying to fight through.

When I started the medication, I noticed a plummet in my energy and happiness.

I didn’t want to go to class. I just hid for the day crying until I was numb and throwing up.

I felt empty. I cried myself to sleep pretty much every night.

But you might not go through this, and believe me, that is terrific!

But I don’t want to sugar coat this, you won’t feel better instantly — it might take a few weeks after being on medication for the first time.

Every beautiful body is different and will react differently to medication. There is no wrong or right way as to how you’ll feel, but it’ll be worth the fight once you get through the side effects.

You’ve already overcome the hardest step and I’m proud. Proud for the courage you’ve had to confess that you’re struggling. The strength to say you need “extra” help to get through this pain.

You may feel hopeless in the first few weeks. And thats OK.

The side effects shall pass, it takes time to get the right medication that is right for you, just please don’t lose hope.

Please know good things will take time, promise.

Reach out to those that love you. You’re not alone in this fight, never.

You’re important, you matter and you’ll get through this, stronger than ever.

I promise.

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 Thinkstock photo via Makidotvn

This week, we had a power outage. There are around 20 other houses along our road, all of which had a power outage too. It was a storm that bought it on, however the rest of the village had power. In trying to keep my brain occupied with the lack of light, warmth and things to do in general, I found that maybe I have more in common with power outages than I ever thought.

Although we had no power, everything else carried on. I still had to attend sixth form, still had to get work done and still had to attend planned events. To me, this felt all too similar to my depression. Every day, I wake up despite what was whirling through my head the night before. I may have stayed in bed all day, maybe I only had an hours sleep — I don’t even think I managed to brush my teeth — but still the world goes on. The world doesn’t care about how each and every individual feels. They don’t care what happened to you today, or yesterday or even three weeks ago. Because the world will still go on.

Depression stops people, but depression doesn’t stop the world. Depression is selfish. Depression thinks it’s OK to not let someone out of bed to go to work, even though their employer threatens to fire them if they don’t attend. Depression thinks it’s OK to not give someone the energy to eat a meal, even though their doctor demands they eat three substantial meals a day. Depression thinks it’s OK to not let someone complete their assignment, even though their teacher will pull them out of their course if they don’t hand it in.

I really related to Thursday’s power outage. Each and every day, the weather in my head is different. Occasionally there are amazing bouts of sunshine, most of the time it is constant rain with a slight wind and then every so often, there’s a storm. The rain isn’t enjoyable, but it’s bearable. But whenever there’s a storm, it wipes me out. I can’t function. My whole body stops. I can’t move — my God, it’s even hard to breathe. But that doesn’t matter, does it? Because still I’m expected to carry on with my life as if nothing is the matter.

It’s just like a power outage, really. The world doesn’t stop for a power outage and the world doesn’t stop for depression.

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Unsplash photo via Chris Lawton

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