young man standing on balcony with depression

It’s not impossible to love me.

I cannot lie – it will not be easy, but no relationship is.

Relationships are hard, and this one may be the hardest of them all.

However, it could be wonderful. I have so much love to give.

It will be hard, but not impossible. Not if I commit. Commit to continuing my treatment. Commit to looking after myself. Commit to trying make myself happy. Commit myself to you. To us.

It’ll be hard, but not impossible. Not if I understand. Understand that seeing me low will upset you. Understand you’ll be hurt when I push you away. Understand your fear and frustration and feelings of helplessness are valid. Understand that, when I’m OK, you’ll need me to tell what to do next time I fall ill.

If I commit and understand, then you can love me.

Stand by me.

Be patient with me.

Love me.

But I must commit and I must understand. I must.

And… I did not.

I did not commit or understand. My love now lies deep inside me. Unspent. Wasted. I can have no complaints.

Loving me is not impossible. I just made it so.

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Thinkstock photo via OcusFocus

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I woke up happy today.

And to you that may seem strange. You woke up happy? Why wouldn’t you wake up happy? Sure, everyone has their complaints in the morning – “it’s raining, again?” – the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, you’re still trying to wipe the fog from your brain in the shower. Sure, not everyone wakes up happy as soon as they pop their eyelids open, but why wouldn’t you be happy?

Because the truth of the matter is I don’t wake up happy every day.

It’s not because I haven’t accepted the normality of my life and I sometimes take for granted how precious each and every day is. It’s not because I sometimes just don’t see the beauty in the small things – a sunny day, a good morning kiss from my fiancé, a nightmare-free sleep, because I do appreciate all of those things. It’s just that sometimes, despite the weather, despite how long it takes my morning latte to kick in, despite the affection I get from my fur babies as I untangle myself from my bed sheets – sometimes I just don’t wake up happy.

Because sometimes my mental illness doesn’t let me wake up happy.

I live a fairly simple life. My days aren’t filled with great wonder, or awe-inspiring moments, or spectacular opportunities. I live as most people do, uncomplicated for the most part – and a bit mundane for the most part. Sure, I get to spend my days creating vivid universes and inspiring characters to share with the world (hopefully some day soon), but for the most part, I live just like everybody else. I have set routines in place. I follow schedules. I spend time with my pets. I cuddle with my fiancé in the evening. Yes, these things are precious to me, but they’re nothing that would make your jaw drop. I live a fairly simple life and I’m OK with that.

But sometimes my mental illness doesn’t let me appreciate this. Sometimes my mental illness takes away those precious moments. Sometimes my illness doesn’t let me value life’s greatest gift – simply just being alive.

Not every day, because I have come a long way, but sometimes my illness likes to slap me across the face, reminding me I’m not always in control. My illness likes to creep in the shadows while plotting against me, and every now and then — just when I think I feel secure — my illness likes to strike back.

Today I woke up happy, but yesterday I didn’t.

The looming dark cloud draped over me as soon as I opened my eyelids. That bottomless sense of doom made me feel so empty my chest ached. Regardless of the weather peeping through the blinds, I didn’t wake up happy – and it wasn’t because I didn’t have my morning dose of caffeine. I retreated into myself and pulled the comforter over my head, blocking out everything around me. I didn’t wake up happy.

But today I did.

And waking up happy doesn’t mean I have some great “Ah ha!” moment. Waking up happy doesn’t mean I have these wondrous epiphanies that give me some meta-philosophical perspective that makes me value the world around me. Do I get excited when I wake up and have a killer idea for my novel or a mind-blowing plot twist? Hell yes, but for me, I don’t want these grand moments.

I just want to be able to wake up and simply say, “I’m happy.”

Because to wake up and be able to pull myself out of bed – that’s an accomplishment. To be able to shower and take pride in my appearance – that’s a total win. To go about my day and not have that lurking sense of doom, that one fleeting moment of anxiety – that’s the ultimate prize! And yes, most days my illness does linger in the back of my mind. My illness is always there whether I’m consciously aware of it or not, but most days are better than others. Most days I can tell my illness to piss off, but other days it’s persistent – like a devil whispering in my ear, filling my head with terrible thoughts.

And most days, sometimes the best thing I can do is hold the line. Sometimes I reach a stalemate with my illness, so unsure whether I’m losing the battle or winning the war. Some days I’m unclear as to what I am feeling, but I do my best to trudge forward. It’s like holding a dam together with chewing gum. If I have to stick my fingers in the holes to prevent the water from escaping, then I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the flood gates from bursting open. Every day doesn’t have to be a win. Do I get a smug sense of pride being able to whisper a quiet “F**k you!” to my illness? Of course I do, but there are days my stalemates are small victories too.

So it’s not about the weather, or the amount of caffeine I consume before noon, or foregoing showering to spend the day in my sweats. It’s not a question of whether I went for a morning run or if I write ten pages – or just one. It’s not a matter of taming the dark thoughts or ignoring the devil on my shoulder by drowning him out with the music score from the new Power Rangers movie. While all of those things play important roles in setting the pace for my day, sometimes the best I can do is just take it one moment at a time, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Because I woke up happy today.

And that’s all that matters.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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Thinkstock photo via ArthurHidden


I used to think celebrities were just being dramatic when they would go to rehab for stress or exhaustion. After having three children, I totally get it. In fact, I get it so much that, if I had the money, I’d have checked myself in months ago.

Being tired is sucky. Being tired, depressed, anxious and just stressed the hell out is super sucky. Top it off with some everyday stress, strong-willed offspring and a sloppy spouse (sorry dear, we all know it’s true), and I’m on the verge of a super-duper sucky meltdown.

My mother tried to warn me of this, in the form of: “Always make time for yourself! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m not your average mama bear, I’ve got this!”

I have recently realized that maybe I don’t got this and it’s really hard to admit, but I’ve been making sure to let people know I’m struggling with my everyday responsibilities. Naturally, I was expecting some negative feedback. Instead, I found support, which was very refreshing.

I was offered a weekend getaway, because my husband is just that nice. I’ll still be close by, at my best girlfriend’s house, but that’s vacation enough for me. I will only have to worry about taking care of myself, for a change. I will miss my children and husband so very much, but I really need some of that “me time” so I can better handle all the “we time.” I can’t continue to take care of them if I continue to neglect myself. I will come home well-rested and ready to go back to my life. I need this reset weekend, because I just don’t think a reset day is going to help this time.

Never be ashamed to let someone know you need help. Being a parent is hard. Just being an adult is hard. Always make sure you’re giving yourself those hours, days, or even weekends, to just focus on you. We all need to remember that we have to keep the machine oiled and serviced regularly, or it will shut down. We’re no good to anyone if we’re completely incapacitated.

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Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages


“So, what do you do?”

When you meet new people or catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while, one of the first questions they ask is, “What do you do?” It’s a basic “get to know you” question. But when you can’t work because of a mental illness — that question isn’t so easy to answer.

In my experience the conversation goes a lot like this:

Person: So, what do you do?

Me: I’m not really doing much right now.

Person: Are you working?

Me: No.

Person: Are you in school?

Me: No.

Person: Are you studying?

Me: No.

Person (visibly confused): Well, what do you do all day?

I know this question isn’t meant to be malicious, but it’s typically said in a way that makes me feel ashamed of not working or studying; as if the fact that I’m not going out and contributing to society in the conventional way, or studying so that I can do so in the future, makes me less than people who are. People see a physically healthy 18-year-old and wonder why she’s presumably lounging around at home when she should be doing something productive.

For me, surviving is the most productive thing I could possibly be doing right now, and it is not an easy thing to do. Getting through each day is my job, and I don’t get a break from it. There’s no paid vacation when it comes to mental illness. My version of work assignments are the basic tasks needed to keep myself alive: remembering to eat, drink enough water, shower, change my clothes, brush my teeth and take my meds. It might not seem like much, but some days even the basics are near impossible.

I would love nothing more than to be working; to have a stable job and stable income. I don’t live week to week because it’s fun; I do it because at this point in my life I have no other choice. My depression drains me of my energy and motivation and my anxiety stops me from interacting with people and putting myself out there. It’s not that I’m just not trying hard enough to push past all that — it’s that I can’t. Sometimes people are able to push through it — but that’s not the case for everyone.

I wish I could say the more I get asked this question the easier it gets, but every time it comes up, I still find myself at a loss for words. Lately my reply has been, “I’m just trying to get through each day.” This seems to work relatively well with most people. I’m trying to accept I don’t need to make excuses or give anyone an explanation, because it’s simply none of their business. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but the stigma that anyone who isn’t currently working is “lazy” makes it difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to be put in that situation.

If you’re like me and unable to work, I want you to remember these few things:

1. You don’t have to be working to be a valuable member of society. Your worth isn’t measured by your ability to contribute something measurable. Your worth is innate. You are worthy of good things simply because you exist. You don’t have to earn that right.

2. You don’t have to prove to anyone that your illness is “bad enough.” Everyone experiences things differently and you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone.

3. You’re not alone. There are many people that can’t work, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that. It’s out of our control. The best thing we can do is work toward improving our mental health, and that is one of the hardest jobs out there.

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

Thinkstock photo via a-wrangler


Members of The Mighty’s mental health community share honest photos of what it looks like when they are struggling with depression.

Read the full version of 20 Honest Pictures People With Depression Want to Post on Facebook, but Don’t.

Read the full transcript:

Honest Pictures People With Depression Want to Post on Facebook, but Don’t

“I wanted to capture that emotion — the feeling of a person with depression. How they feel when happy, sad, empty, etc.”

“For me, depression isn’t a wistful look off into the distance or stroking a wall looking glum.”

“My fear in sharing photos like this is that people will assume that I couldn’t possibly still be depressed.”

“I asked my best friend to sketch me. I told her I wanted to look strong, and I wanted it to resemble beauty despite my scars.”

“This picture was taken at the hospital. I want to show people how far I have come.”

“I was trying to trick everyone, when the reality was every day was spent in fear and misery.”

“I took this picture right before my first dose of antidepressants.”

“This is a portrait of the first time I sat home alone trying to decide whether or not I’d live or die.”

“This is my service dog in training. She is one of the only things that keep me hanging on.”

“I’m really proud of this painting but depression tells me there’s no point.”

“When I’m depressed, sometimes I play with Snapchat’s filters to feel better.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800)-273-8255.

You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741.


These seven little ways to help a person with depression come directly from my life. This is not an extensive list. It is just some things that stand out to me — things that mean a lot to me now that I am in a good place mentally and can look back on the dark times. Maybe some of these ideas can help you help someone you know who is struggling and cannot do it on their own.

Seven little ways to help a person with depression:

1. Validate feelings.

After graduating from college in Chicago, I went as a missionary to Africa. I lived and worked in a village for a year. I did not have electricity or running water. Many of the people in the village did not understand English and I did not know their tribal language, making it hard to communicate. There were many things during that year that were very good, but also things that were difficult for me.

I returned home to the US, and everyone wanted to hear stories about my African adventure. They wanted to hear stories of how God had worked. I felt I had to be upbeat and tell stories of how wonderful it was for me to be a missionary. Inside though, I started to become depressed. That year in Africa had put me in positions that were more than I could handle. I felt I had failed. I felt no one could understand why being a missionary would make me go into depression.

It wasn’t until my pastor said to me at church one day, “Wow, that must have been hard. You shouldn’t have been sent out there alone,” rather than, “Wow, what you did was amazing,” that I finally felt a little understood. I finally felt that someone saw me.

Sometimes, just saying, “Wow, that must be hard,” to a depressed person can bring a little relief for a moment.

2. Help them get help.

I did not have the strength or know how to get help for my depression. It took a friend saying, “Can I make an appointment with a counselor for you?” for the first steps to get help to be taken.

Then it took my counselor saying, “Can I make an appointment with a doctor for you?” for me to know I may need medical help.

When it came time to go to the doctor’s appointment, it took a secretary at the church going with me to even get me to go there. My anxiety and depression were so bad. I got a prescription for antidepressants, but even that I could not get on my own. The secretary took me to the pharmacy, then took me to her house and let me rest on her bed while we waited for it to be ready.

The steps it takes to get help may seem easy to a person who is not depressed, but for a depressed person it can be more than they can handle on their own. Sometimes a friend, a counselor, or even a church secretary needs to say, “Can I do this for you to get you help?”

3. Follow up.

One of my friends knew I had gone to the doctor. He also knew I was prescribed antidepressants. I don’t know what made him think I might not take them once I got home, but his hunch was right. I was scared to take them, and probably would not have, except that he came over and encouraged me to do so. When my friend did this, it was almost like he was saying, “Can I give the courage and desire to you?” I could not find it on my own at that point.

Maybe you have seen someone you know who is depressed be given help. That is not the time to just relax and walk away. A friend is still needed to give encouragement to take that next step in the healing process.

4. Just be together.

I remember when my sister lived with me for a while. In my depression, I would lie on the couch in a dark house watching TV or just staring sadly ahead. I know it made her sad and she wanted to help, but she did not know how. I remember one day when she got home from work, and I was covered in a blanket lying on the couch. I don’t remember if she even said anything, but I do remember that she came over, lay down on the blanket on top of me, and just hugged me. I don’t know how long that hug lasted, but it made me feel loved. My sister doesn’t even remember she did this, but it is one of the encouraging moments which I remember still.

You don’t need to always say something to someone who is in a state of depression. Sometimes making a point to just be in the same room silently with them can be as good or better than giving advice. A hug or a soft touch can often communicate a feeling of being cared for that words cannot describe.

5. Be encouraging without expectations.

There was a time when something very hurtful had happened to me, which was magnified by the fact of my depression. I found myself crying deeply, shut in my room. One of my roommates must have heard me crying. Without saying anything to me, she slipped a 3×5 card with a verse she had written on it under my bedroom door. The verse from the Bible came from the Psalms. It was a verse about the love of God. She didn’t expect me to thank her or explain my hurts to her. She did an encouraging act and then let it speak for itself. I stuck that 3×5 card on my wall by my bedroom door and often looked at it as I left the room.

An encouraging quote or caring note, an invitation to do something together, or a word of love or appreciation can go a long way when a person is depressed. The person may not have the energy or ability always to respond back to you, but be encouraged — your encouragement has meaning.

6. Offer to go the extra mile.

One day I was having a very hard time. All I could think about was wanting to hurt myself or to kill myself. I knew I needed to go to the hospital. I went there and was sitting outside of the emergency room. I decided to call my dad first. I had not been very open with my parents in the past about my struggles, but now I wanted their support and love. That is what I got. My parents were very concerned. My dad even offered to get in the car right then and drive the three hours from where they lived to come stay with me. Though I did not take him up on his offer, I treasured the fact he loved me.

There was another time I had a breakdown and could not handle going to work. A family I trusted offered for me to come stay with them so that I would be safe from myself. This I did, then my mom made that three-hour drive to come stay with me and to just be with me while I recovered.

Are you willing to do the big things that need to be done in times of crisis for your friend or loved one? Will you go the extra mile? It may be inconvenient and take away from other things, but it may even save a life. I know it kept me safe at those dark times.

7. Help others understand.

Depression and other mental illnesses are not always understood in our society, and there is often stigma against them. When these things show up in someone’s life, the people around often do not understand what is happening. The person whom it is happening to is often in no state to explain. Fear can build up in friends and family. Sometimes it would be helpful for the people who do have the insight to explain it to those who do not.

I remember a time I was in the psychiatric ward in the hospital. I had not been open with my roommates about my mental state. My parents explained what I was going through to my roommates for me, and explained the depression and mental illness I was dealing with. This took some of the pressure off me to try to figure out what to say to them. After that, I knew my roommates cared for me, that they still accepted me, and knew it was OK to talk about it.

Do you understand much about depression and other mental illnesses? If so, great. If not, would you be willing to learn about it? All of us need to have good mental health. People with depression and others with mental illnesses are just that: people. Let us all be open to start talking, and listening, and learning. We can learn how to help. We can learn how to love. We can break the stigma against depression and mental illnesses.

And, to all of you who I have mentioned in my examples, thank you so much for caring enough to do something to help me. Whether it was big or small, I love you all.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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.

Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem


7 Little Ways to Help a Person With Depression

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