A woman living with depression lists problems only happy people with depression understand.

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Problems Only Happy People With Depression Understand

Just because it looks like I’m always doing well doesn’t mean I am.

I more often laugh to avoid crying than because something is funny.

Being sad and being depressed are not the same thing.

I overcompensate by acting the happiest when I feel the worst.

If you say “I hate seeing you upset,” you never ever will again.

Unless you’re my psychiatrist, I don’t care what you think about psychiatric medication.

Having severe depression doesn’t mean I look severe.

I feel best when I’m helping other people with their problems.

I’m not trying to get rid of depression, I’m trying to live with it.

I’m more fragile than I will ever admit but stronger than you will ever know.

Written by Jill Alexandra


There are so many things I could be doing right now.

That’s a thought that often crosses my mind while I’m lying on my bed for the umpteenth day in a row, occasionally scrolling through my phone but mostly staring at the ceiling. Sometimes I end up falling asleep if my mind decides to stay blank for long enough.

I could be cleaning. I haven’t really been putting things away and there are piles of stuff all over my room. Maybe I could grab my laptop and finally get started on that novel I’ve been wanting to write for the past decade or so. Or I could try and job hunt again, even though I’ve exhausted all the possibilities and my resumé isn’t impressive enough to anyone.

But I can’t bring myself to do anything.

It feels as though the depression I’ve struggled with for more than half of my life is a physical being that’s purposely keeping me from moving. People are trying to contact me – I should get back to them, but I can’t. I need to get up and make dinner, but the thought of getting out of bed exhausts me. I can’t stop the whispers in my mind that tell me there’s no point, anyway.

That’s where the guilt sets in – the guilt of having depression.

How many hours have I wasted just lying here? What kind of things could I have done or created in all of this time? Maybe I’d have a job if I’d spent more time perfecting my resumé. Maybe I’d already be a bestselling writer if I’d been writing instead of staring at the ceiling. Perhaps I’d be more than the nothing I feel.

I still can’t bring myself to do anything and I feel guilty for all of this wasted time.

I already have all these regrets of not doing anything, of thinking about the things I could have accomplished had I not convinced myself it wasn’t worth it and just stayed in bed. The guilt is another physical being that holds me back. I feel bad for not being a “normal” person with a “normal” life. Instead, I just stare at the ceiling as the guilt eats away at me.

Nobody should be made to feel bad about having a mental illness, but I bring this guilt upon myself. It’s a vicious cycle that feels impossible to escape.

But then the depression sets in, and I add it to the list of things I can’t bring myself to do.

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Earlier on in our relationship, I pulled Kevin aside when we had a moment alone together in the kitchen. Friends were over.

“I need you to be extra touchy-feely, babe. Can you rub me on the back and check in to see how I’m doing? You do already do those things but I’m feeling anxious and I need them a bit more than usual tonight.”

“Sure, boo,” he said. My anxiety was at about a level 8ish. (How does one even measure feelings, anyway?)

These are the things that are good to relay to your partner regardless of your situation, but when you live with depression, this is particularly important. There needs to be explicit communication about how you’re feeling and what you need from your partner.

Carrying anxiety (or depression) by yourself becomes a habit when you grow up in an environment that enables you to carry the baggage solo. You forget that there’s an option or you’re not yet aware that there’s an option to practice vulnerability and trust. There’s an option to reach out. A healthy, sound relationship requires it of you to reach out to your partner.

I used to think that if my partner’s love for me was authentic, he would notice when I’m feeling out of sorts and that would cue him to reassure me in some way; if he didn’t catch on and offer care and support, I would get upset. Your partner can’t read your mind — and really, would you want them to? — and regardless of how obvious you think your situation is on the outside, it’s best to be upfront and proactive. Help your partner support you by telling them what you need of them. I assure you, they want to know. Your partner wants to support you. Depression tells you that no one wants to support you. Don’t listen. You and your partner will take turns leaning into each other. That’s how it works.

Clinical Psychologist and author Dr. Sue Johnson wrote in her book “Hold Me Tight,” “When safe connection seems lost, partners go into fight-or-flight mode… Most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection.”

I know it can be difficult when depression is visiting because the depressed partner, by nature of the illness, is unable to give as much to the relationship as they are able when they’re feeling OK. That’s OK. Kevin and I have acknowledged that and it (along with his kind and gentle soul) has given me permission to give myself permission to not feel guilty about the temporary imbalance.

woman and man selfie smiling wearing sunglasses with dog in background

When I’m not under depression’s spell, these are some things that Kevin and I do to stay connected:

1. Take walks together with our dog, Fuzz, after breakfast. I try to force myself out of bed to do this when depressed. It may only be a 10-minute walk, but it makes a huge difference.

2. Leave surprise love notes for each other around the house. Sometimes I sneak something into his lunch box.

3. Enjoy a weekly date night together. We met on a Wednesday, so those days are our “weekiversary’”days. (You don’t need to go out. Sometimes we veg at home. It’s the time investment and being present with one another that matters most.

4. Massage each other. Sometimes the massage is a 2-minute shoulder massage in passing but any length of time is wonderful. Our favorite is trading foot massages facing each other on the couch.

5. Pick up something from the grocery store that we didn’t put on the list but know the other likes. For Kevin, it’s Sour Patch Kids or bleu cheese; for me, it’s La Croix or gummy cherries.

6. Kevin has my medication reminder on his phone as a backup in case I forget or miss my reminder alarm. He sends me reminder texts if we’re not together when my alarm goes off.

7. I refill or top off his water bottle if I see he’s running low.

What are some things you and your partner do to stay connected?

Follow this journey on Odawni’s blog about depression and relationships, xo, O.

I experienced depression for a period of about five years (though it was probably several years earlier but went undiagnosed). I felt the deep darkness and sorrow of depression, I experienced the classical “drowning” symptoms. I had chronic insomnia, lost my appetite and became withdrawn; at its worst, I was suicidal and wanted out.

I found healing through my faith and belief in God and even if I did have the odd day here and there, I found true comfort in His Love. However, recently I experienced an episode of depression which was of the more severe form. Though I did find relief in my faith which enabled me to overcome the depression, there was one major difference between the episodes, and that was guilt.

I had experienced guilt previously whilst struggling with depression, I felt guilty for feeling so sad when my life was good and I had nothing to be sad about. I had equated my feelings of depression to being ungrateful, which I now realize is completely incorrect. Experiencing depression does not necessarily mean you’re ungrateful and the two feelings do not have to be placed in the same bracket.

Experiencing depression as a Christian left me feeling even more guilty. I felt guilty that I was feeling so sad when I believe in a God who is all loving. I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to “move on” from how I was feeling. I felt guilty that I was “allowing” an illness to overtake me so much. I felt guilty that I wasn’t praying as much as I usually did, and even when I did, it would mostly be ramblings about the depth of pain I was feeling. I felt guilty for stagnation – I felt as if I’d taken a thousand steps backward after moving forwards so radically. I felt guilty for the doubts and essentially “lack of faith” I thought I was experiencing.

I got to a point whereby the guilt was preventing me from reaching out for help and dealing with the depression. I really believed I needed to “suck it up” and get on with it. I believed that, as a Christian, I should be strong enough to deal with it on my own.

However, this was all not true. One thing I have learned from dealing with depression as a Christian is a crucial need for vulnerability, both with God and people. Vulnerability is a place of exposure and being honest without holding back. Being vulnerable is not an easy thing at all; you never really know how someone will react and you could possibly be hurt by their response. However, from my experience, I found that being vulnerable and allowing people in helped a great deal.

Through being vulnerable, I learned I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to deal with everything on my own. I found love, encouragement and support through friends where I was expecting judgment and misunderstandings.  I was able to accept the severity of the problem and confront it in order to overcome it. I was able to seek help from friends through praying together, which personally helped me to learn how to pray again for myself. I learned I didn’t have to “move on” but instead get better.

Guilt is such a heavy feeling which can be attached to anyone struggling with depression, not just Christians. It’s important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling; don’t let guilt stop you from reaching out. It is not your fault that you are struggling with an illness and therefore there is no need to feel guilty about it. Reach out to someone today and work on beating depression.

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. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Unsplash photo via Ben White.

It was only just yesterday that it all clicked in my head: the fatigue, the random tears, the irritability, the nightmares… I am in a depressive state. It’s been about two weeks and I’m not unfamiliar with the physical and mental side effects an episode like this has on me, but I am surprised I didn’t catch it sooner.

What is most frustrating about episodes like this is how my weekly therapy sessions, my yoga and meditation practices, my vitamin regimen, my diet — none of my hard work seems to help my ability to cope with the depression. And I am left in a state of wondering when it will pass and how I will know when it does. Every time this happens to me, I know the simplest answer is time. It will take time for it to pass and time for me to recognize once it has. It’s dreadful knowing I could be in this state for two more weeks, possibly even two more months.

I’ve told my family, friends and significant other what is happening. For the most part, they’ve been supportive. They say “I wish I could help” when I tell them why I was crying in the midst of a sunny 85-degree day, or “I’m here for you” when they are 600 miles away. It’s support but it’s not the answer; it’s not a cure-all. What I need is for them to understand that what they say and what they do will not bring me out of this in an instant. I need them to understand that even I am not fully aware of what is happening to me or why. I need them to understand that this episode does not define me or my future.

I need them to listen.

During an episode like this, the depression comes in waves. I may be fine and productive at work one minute, and then queasy and ready to faint the next. I may be eating a large meal for lunch and not touch a thing for dinner. I may run three miles in the morning and struggle to fall asleep that night. I may feel like socializing one evening, and the next I’ll be binging Netflix with my phone on “Do Not Disturb.” My point is, it is complicated to explain to my loved ones (and myself) the extent of what is happening because it is so inconsistent. I fear it may make them feel like they are on this roller coaster with me and the pressure and speed may be too much for them to handle.

When I am finally better — but what is “better” when you have a chronic illness? — I want to know that the person who I was before the episode, especially in their eyes, is the same person I am after. A short time of low feelings and canceling plans shouldn’t define my character. I carry this illness with me as any sick person does, but I am still me. Most of the time, my depression may be invisible, a silent partner who is always by my side. But when the spotlight is on it, just as it is right now, I want my loved ones to remember I am here, I am not going anywhere, I’m just not “OK” at the moment and that might mean my behavior and mood have changed. But, it is nothing to be afraid of and certainly nothing to run from.

Fearing our own mental illness will only perpetuate the stigma that mental illness is something everyone should fear. That fear can prevent valuable connections with one another, from seeking help, and from educating others about the many ways that mental illness can hurt. If there is one thing I’ve learned about living with this, it is that to truly live with mental illness is to be honest with those we love, even if we aren’t sure about how they will respond. Because in the end, their ability to listen could be the one thing that helps the most.

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Thinkstock photo via iTref

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.


I know you’re going through some stuff right now. And I know you don’t know how to take it, what it all means or what the future holds for you.

I know you feel lost and scared. Hopeless and weak. Tired and angry.

I know you’re being bullied by every kid in 8th grade. In class, in the hallways, in the locker room, on the bus and even online. I know you don’t know what to do, and I know it’s wearing you down. You’ve tried standing up for yourself, but it only gets worse. So you stay quiet and let them call you names.

I know they make fun of your clothes, hair, appearance and choice of music. They call you a goth and a lesbian. They tell you you’re ugly. And you believe every word they say is true. You believe it’s a reflection of who you are.

But it’s not. It’s not even about you. It’s about them. And their words say more about them than they do of you.

I know you don’t know who you can trust and that you feel like the world is out to get you. Your teachers, guidance counselor and even your parents – the people who should have your back – are turning against you. At least that’s how it feels.

But I want you to know they’re only looking out for you. They want to help you. Maybe they’re not going about it in the best or right ways, but they’re trying. Let them in, and let them get you the help you need.

I know you’re spending a lot of time crying in the school bathroom and in your room because your grades are slipping, you don’t have friends and because everyone has an opinion about you. I know you have something in your purse and that you practice harming yourself – imagining what it would feel like to make the first mark.

I know that you finally give in and harm yourself. I know it gives you peace, but I also know it’s only temporary. And now you’re left trying to figure out how to cover these wounds and keep people from noticing.

I know you think about ending your life. I know you believe your life isn’t worth living and the entire world would be better without you in it. I know you believe this is how your story ends. But I’m here to tell you that what you’re feeling today isn’t forever. And that despite how awful you feel, it’s only temporary. It does get better. I promise you it will.

I know you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, and I know the sadness and anxiety are crushing you. You’re drowning in the weight of your emotions. I know you’re hurting. But I need you to keep going. I need you to believe it won’t be like this forever. I need you to dry your tears, take a breath and to put one foot in front of the other. It won’t be easy, and you’re going to want to give up. But please, Christina. Don’t do it.

I know you don’t think you’re going to make it to your 15th birthday. I know you don’t even want to.

But I want you to fight like hell. Don’t focus on tomorrow. Just focus on getting through today – hour by hour. Minute by minute. You are stronger than you believe, and I promise you can get through anything. You just need to believe in yourself.

I know you don’t know what to make of your diagnosis. And I know you think this is the end of the world.

But I want you to know that you are more than your diagnosis. You are stronger than your depression and anxiety. Although it seems like the end of the world right now, it’s this very moment that’s going to change your life. And it’s going to make you stronger.

Because Christina, my dear, you are a fighter. A warrior. A badass. And no matter what anyone in this world tells you, you are enough.

You are worthy of the help you’re given. You are worthy of recovery. You are worthy of better and brighter days. Because trust me, there are many of those ahead.

You deserve every good thing in this world, and I never want you to doubt that, not even for a second. Don’t ever let anyone walk all over you or make you feel inferior. Don’t take no for an answer. And always stand up for what you believe in – even if your voice shakes.

Encourage people to admit they’re not OK – but don’t forget to do the same when you’re hurting. Because there will be days when you hurt. Days when you can’t get out of bed and you’re convinced you can’t make it through another day. But you can, and you will. You always do.

Be an advocate for the mental health community. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Despite what you’re feeling today, depression and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of.

You. Are. Not. Broken.

You have so many wonderful things to offer the world, and you’re going to make an impact on the lives of so many people. You’re going to be a friend, a shoulder to cry on, someone they can confide in when they feel alone.

You’re going to take all these struggles and grow from it. You’re going to chase your dreams and create a beautiful life for yourself.

And while you’ll always carry your depression and anxiety with you, one day, you’ll realize it doesn’t define who you are. It’s part of you, but it’s not all you are.

You are beautiful, smart, creative, kind, friendly, selfless, humble, driven, strong, inspiring and passionate. But most importantly, you are a force to be reckoned with.

And you are going to change the world some day. I just know it.

Your 27-year-old self

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.

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

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