The Worst Symptoms of Depression We Don't Talk About

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Depression is often shrouded in misunderstanding. Some believe it means simply being sad and unmotivated, when really, the symptoms of depression often have a way of infiltrating everything, from the smallest, most unsuspecting details of life, to the biggest, most significant aspects of life. And trying to explain this often feels like trying to hold onto water — as soon as you start to grasp it, it slips from your grip.

That’s why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community who struggle with depression to share the worst symptoms of depression people typically don’t talk about. By opening the dialogue and trying to put words to these symptoms, we can continue to deepen our understanding and uncloak the misunderstanding that leads to the creation of shame and stigma. 

Here is what they had to say:

1. “Wanting to say what’s on your mind, but you can’t even explain it. So you just cry because you don’t even know what you’re feeling.” — Brenda A.

2. “The exhaustion. Not only physically, but also mentally. Mentally exhausted from having to apologize for who you are. Mentally exhausted from trying to convince yourself you deserve to be here, be alive. Physically and mentally exhausted from living. I’m tired, so tired.” — Abbie K.

3. “The black hole I feel in the core of my being. It sucks in life, motivation, concentration, etc. To use another metaphor: it’s drowning in the the ocean in the middle of a tempest.” — Mark M.

4. “Literally not showering for months. Not changing your clothes for weeks. Not combing your hair for days. Not brushing your teeth for weeks. With depression, hygiene goes out the window.” — Zoe S.

5. “When I’m having an episode but I’m not so far gone and part of my rational mind is still present telling me there’s no reason to feel the way I do, yet the dark part of my mind still won’t release it’s grip. So I’m crying and feeling like I’m unloved and worthless yet part of me is still conscious enough to know it’s a lie, but I’m just not strong enough to take back control. It’s the most confusing time.” — Steve H.

6. “Feeling numb and that feeling of unreality, I can see and take my surroundings in, yet I don’t feel a part of it, like a dream sequence. So many people, but at that moment, they mean very little.” — Patricia Y.

7. “The ease in which you can become addicted to something. Your brain trying to cope so you resort to drugs, booze, food, sex, co-dependency.” — Greg E.

8. “Apathy. When you’re depressed, your ability to feel joy from the things you normally love fades, but the worst days are the days I’m so numb I can barely even feel compassion or empathy. I’m just empty. Like someone disconnected my emotions.” — Anastasia A.

9. “Feeling the aches in my entire body from staying still all day; whether that be from laying down or sitting still. People thinking I’m lazy for doing it and wishing they could do that when it’s actually from depression.” — Ayoung L.

10. “Dissociation. Being so depressed and just gone — so consumed that you are no longer yourself. It begins to feel like you’re first person in a video game or movie. You have no emotional connection to reality because you’re not there. Literally just existing feels impossible.” — Cat K..

11. “Not being able to get to places on time because you’re so tired. It takes more energy to get up, get ready and go. I find myself procrastinating a lot because of lack of energy. I’m late everywhere I go.” — Mindy S.

12. “Not knowing that something is wrong in the early stage, and hurting other people with your behavior — not on purpose of course. As a consequence, they accuse you of many bad things that are caused by the illness you couldn’t really control. People make many mistakes out of fear.” — Asia R.

13. “Honestly, the chronic pain that may come with depression. I struggle with migraines when I go through a really deep depressive episode and it makes dealing with everything so much harder.” — Frances W.

14. “I think it’s anger, agitation, irritability and that feeling of having no self-control. I hate when the intensity gets to a point where you can’t hold it in anymore and you fly off the handle over a super small thing because you can’t regulate this emotion. Often times, when people hear that someone is struggling with depression, they might think, ‘Oh they’re sad, tearful, anxious, hopeless, helpless or have no motivation to change.’ Some might not realize that anger is a symptom of depression. Depression is anger turned inward.” — Samantha C.

15. “The feeling that it’s never going to end, or that it’s genetic and I’ll pass it onto my babies. Not feeling like you can explain it because there’s not a tangible reason for it.”  — Lacy M.

16. “Periods. Your period reacts to your emotional stress level and depression can cause you so much stress because people don’t understand, your period sometimes either stops or it just keeps going and becomes super irregular and painful.” — Harlie B.

17. “Mine was not being able to talk. Literally, I couldn’t voice any thought because depression made me believe my opinions didn’t matter. I forgot what my voice sounded like.” — Jane S.

18. “When you try to rationalize whether it’s your depression or something ‘normal.’ Sometimes I think: am I just exhausted because of my sleep schedule? Or because my mind hasn’t stopped working or stressing for days? That constant need to rationalize your mental health makes the depression symptoms even worse.” — Julie K.

19. “The internal frustration that you are too scared, guilty or embarrassed to speak out because there is still so much stigma and lack of services, and people who say they are there for you when actually they aren’t. So you just end up drowning in your own thoughts and your depression or anxiety worsens.” — Ebony W.

20. “Shameful ways in which I keep to myself or my house. It feeds my depression and causes it. The cycle of shame in every aspect of my life. How a dissociative episode can make me gain 10 pounds in three weeks because my stomach is numb and I can’t feel whether or not I am hungry or actually sad.” — Jennifer L.

21. “I get paranoid that people are getting annoyed with me and the awful symptoms that go along with it, I also feel guilty if I don’t do anything for days, like cleaning the house and self-hygiene. I get overly sensitive to what people might be thinking about me.” — Erin S.

22. “Depression is just another fuel on the fire because I have been diagnosed with multiple conditions. I have a lot of anxiety, and when the anxiety gets bad, the depression gets bad. When the depression gets bad, my self-harm gets bad. When the self-harm gets bad, the self-loathing sometimes becomes bulimia. The obsessive compulsive, borderline personality disorder and the PTSD also get bad. Not wanting to live and the not wanting to take my medicine, which makes everything 10 times worse. It’s like a storm, and when it hits, the depression is fuel for everything. It can be crushing at times.” — Robyn W.

23. “I think the worst is when I’m having fun with friends or family and it hits me hard and I begin to shut down with no explanation, nothing to have triggered it. Suddenly having trouble enjoying myself with people who I find enjoyable to be around.” — Maddy F.

24. “The foggy thinking was the main thing for me — making it almost impossible to concentrate or remember anything, I didn’t even know it was a symptom of depression until I told my doctor about it.” — Rebecca R.

25. “Promiscuity. I get so down and depressed that I just want to do anything to make me feel better, even though I hurt myself at the same time.” — Abel R.

26. “The anhedonia. There’s so many things I love doing that depression tends to dull the joy or even take it away completely. Even the smallest fun thing could become an absolute nightmare because of the effort it may take to even get out of bed to do it.” — Anna P.

27. “Gaining weight because you don’t know what else to do. Or the weight loss because you are just not hungry and don’t have the energy to cook.” — De C.

28. “The guilt. The guilt of hurting your family and friends. The guilt of lying about why you can’t do something or go somewhere. The guilt of not going to work. The guilt of staying in bed all day. The guilt of not taking proper care of your everyday responsibilities. The guilt of seeing the hurt in your children’s eyes. The guilt of failure — it is all consuming and never ending.” — Lorraine C.

29. “The uncertainty. The fact you don’t know if your going to wake up in the same horrible mood, a worse one or a better one. The not knowing if one day you’re going to stop being able to actually function. The uncertainty of whether you will be able to hold down your job while also trying to keep your head above water” — Chloe P.

30. “Canceling plans last minute and having my closest family and friends think I don’t love them when they are who keeps me going.” — Megan A.

31. “When all the symptoms mix. That awful combo of a lack of concentration, exhaustion and apathy that makes your brain stay in what’s like ‘the dial-up tone phase’ of waking up for extended periods of time. You can’t think straight, can’t form proper sentences, don’t know if you want social interaction or to be isolated, don’t enjoy what I usually would, but don’t have anything else to do and can’t focus on work when I have it. It’s like I’m just there and useless because I can’t function right.” — Charli J.

32. “Not knowing if your thoughts are real or just the effects of depression telling you lies. Feeling betrayed by your own brain and not being able to distinguish what thoughts are true and what thoughts are depression.” — Dani F.

33. “The need to put on an act so everyone thinks you are OK, but inside you feel worthless and like you want to run away. Sometimes you just want to shout that you are suffering and cannot cope, but you’re made to feel like you are not allowed to show weakness. The exhaustion and the physical pain caused by holding back tears because you have to appear to function well at home, at work and in social situations. The feeling like you are unworthy and unloved.” — Vickie B.

34. “Not being able to explain why I am depressed. People constantly ask, ‘What’s making you depressed?’ or, ‘Why are you depressed?’ and it’s very hard to keep saying that I don’t know. If I knew, I would definitely love to tell you and fix it, but the tough thing is that I just don’t why. I just am.” — Sharon C.

35. “When it starts messing with your memory/cognitive functions. I get so scatterbrained and forgetful, can’t focus and any memories past about three months are spotty at best and mostly feel like someone else’s, as if I read them in a book somewhere. You end up feeling so flustered all the time, like you’re falling apart and losing your mind. Any feelings of inadequacy are exacerbated, especially if you’re working and your job is demanding.” — Brianna M.

36. “Awareness. Awareness of all the things that are wrong, but the inability to fix any of it. Tired, but I can’t sleep, my brain is full of information and thoughts, yet I can’t focus and concentrate at work. The physical and emotional pain and weariness and feeling like I have to apologize for all of it. It’s exhausting.” — Jamie G.

37. “Wanting to put yourself in dangerous situations. Depression isn’t always about laying in your bed, it also can be the urge to be self-destructive. People don’t talk about this because it’s a kind of a grey space. You’re not really suicidal, but you have a kind of urge to put yourself in dangerous situation.” — Lotte S.

38. “When you’re typically a super responsible, organized person, and you slowly feel all of it start to unravel. You start showing up late to work, falling behind on tasks, stop eating, start praying that your kids won’t notice and you put on that fake smile and try to keep it all together. Through tears and self-doubt, you pull through for them because they need you.” — Taylor W.

39. “Thinking you’re no longer in love with the love of your life. Becoming paranoid of them thinking they’re bad for you. It causes the partner to feel unloved, no matter if you still say ‘I love you,’ they can feel it.” — Meryl D.

4o. “When every decision, no matter how small or big, becomes an insurmountable burden because of your indecisive mind. Then the guilt of having made a decision that always seems to be the wrong one. And then more guilt that makes me think I am useless to anyone in the world including myself.” — Paridhi C.

41. “The selfishness. When I am depressed, I tend to isolate and put my depression first. Everything else is second, even if it’s not fun or fulfilling, it still can be extremely selfish. It takes the spotlight. Friends and family take a backseat to the depression.” — Sarah E.

42. “The constipation. Whether it’s because of the bad food I’ve been eating, the medication or the fact is all I’m doing is sleeping. It takes me weeks to start getting regular again, and nothing prolongs the cloud in my head than feeling bloated and sick on top of the total lack of motivation and self-deprecation.” — Bethany R.

43. “Seeing your children growing up thinking you are grumpy and hate fun when you can’t explain what’s wrong with you. Knowing they are hungry or bored, but it takes you ages just to get out of bed to hand them a sandwich.” — Eman H.

44. “Preoccupation. My depression has made me preoccupy myself with game apps and simple things I know I can do or change because I feel that I can’t change or control anything else in my life.” — Lauran S.

45. “I’m constantly excited for the next day, never enjoying the day I’m currently in. Then a birthday goes by and I think what have a done with my life but wish for the next day.” — Jennifer R.

46. “How disgusting your house gets. And you hate it. And it smothers you. But the will to take the first step to clean is too overwhelming…..” — Amanda R.

It is important to remember that no matter how much you are struggling or how overwhelming your symptoms may feel, you are never alone and you are worthy and deserving of help.

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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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When Self-Care Becomes Self-Sabotage

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A few weeks ago, I realized something: I had begun using my mental illness as a crutch. Not so much with other people, but mainly with myself.

On days when I wanted to stay in bed (which, up until recently, has been most days), I allowed myself to, equating it to exhaustion and fatigue. If I couldn’t meet up with others, I blamed it on anxiety. And if I couldn’t bring myself to go to work because my depression was just so bad, I told myself it was OK and I that deserved a mental health day.

All of the above is fine in theory, but using “self-care” as an excuse actually turned out to be self-sabotage. Sure, when your body is tired, it needs rest, when you need a break from the world, you should be able to take one, and if you truly need a mental health day, by all means, take one.

But it’s almost as if I knew these were “easy,” acceptable options and began relying on them too often rather than motivating myself to get up and do things that were good for me.

Instead of staying in bed, I should have gone to the gym to work out, a proven mood booster not just for me, but for a lot of people. Instead of shutting out the world, I should have been enjoying time with my loved ones. And instead of attempting to work from home, which always puts me in a worse mood unless I physically leave my house and work somewhere else, I should have gone into the office, interacting with others and keeping myself busy.

Being open about my mental illness has been both good and bad — good in the sense that I am no longer ashamed to hide it, bad in that I started using it as a fallback. But that has never been my intention.

Over the years, I’ve learned to be mindful of the signals that point towards me going downhill again. More often than not, it’s when I know in my gut I should be doing something (ie. see that friend I haven’t seen in forever, go to the gym or write in my journal), but there’s some sort of opposing force that encourages me not to, almost wanting me to go down that rabbit hole and stay in that rut. Sometimes I’m able to fight it. But other times, I just give in, chalking it up to said “self-care” that I mentioned above. Again, self-sabotage. And I think that’s why I feel like I’ve been stuck for the past few months. I’ve been using this excuse with myself and others and, in turn, keeping myself in a dark place.

Like I said, I’m not against self-care at all, but it’s different for every person. And I know the “self-care” I have been indulging in (read: staying in bed and “resting,” which is essentially just me laying in bed and scrolling mindlessly through social media) is not good for me.

What does constitute as legitimate self-care for me? Working out, for sure. Dancing, something I’ve always loved and finally pushed myself to start again. Playing music. Writing in a journal. An epsom salt bath. Meditating (I’ve meditated every day for the past 30 days, and I am damn proud of it). Being around good, positive people. Feeding my soul.

Motivating yourself is the hardest thing when you have depression. Grasping onto that little bit of hope you have left, and working with it is one heck of a challenge. My false version of self-care led me further and further away from it.

So from here on out, no more of this self-sabotaging self-care bullshit. It’s time to push myself to do things that really put my mind at ease and brings me to a happy place. And if anyone catches me using it as a crutch again, please, call me out on it.

Follow this journey on Madelyn’s blog.

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

Thinkstock photo via eggeeggjiew

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The 'Moby Dick' Character I Relate to as Someone With Mental Illness

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“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” — Captain Ahab, “Moby Dick”

This last of Captain Ahab’s lines from the classic story, “Moby Dick,” is well known to both lovers of the book and a certain Star Trek movie as well. For those who might not know the story of “Moby Dick,” in my opinion, I believe it can be summed up in one word: mania.

For those of us who have dealt with anxiety, bipolar disorder and particularly depression, the term “mania” is one that is very familiar. As I think about those days, I recall the many episodes of mania that were caused by my mental illness. When reading “Moby Dick,” I recall the experiences of mania so many people have gone through.

Mania is marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions and overactivity. It is part of bipolar disorder, but many don’t notice during depressed periods, the depressed person is fighting a battle in their mind that has no end. I believe this is because of what I’ll refer to as a “Captain Ahab tendency” for this article. I believe the real problem with mania is that it can cause a great disruption in our lives and move us even further away from allowing healing from a mental illness to take place.

Sometimes, mania is less “elevation” and more irritability. So now back to our “Captain Ahab tendency,” and why we must fight this mania that works to tear at our souls. Many people have analyzed “Moby Dick” and the story of the Captain Ahab’s obsession to kill the white whale. See, the whale has robbed the sad captain of a part of himself. It really doesn’t matter that it is his leg — the point is he feels monomaniacally fixated on getting revenge against the whale, even though everyone around him knows the peace he seeks is not in killing the whale, but in himself.

But sometimes, when someone is in a state of mania, we cannot share these insights. Sometimes, people in a manic state may not realize they are experiencing mania. During the whole story, Captain Ahab’s fixation caused him to relentlessly hold onto pain, even though it not only hurt him deeply — but also those around him. In the end, all that was left of the situation was destruction. In my experience, this is all too familiar. It is pain that causes me to remain in my state of depression and anger at myself, while blaming everything else around me for my condition. 

Herman Melville may have realized what he was truly writing about by making Moby Dick a white whale. Why? Because it is much easier for the great captain to search for a unique white whale than another whale. And don’t you ever wonder how, in a vast sea, he is able to find it and battle it? I believe the battle is really in him and not with the whale. Yes, it is a good story of this mania he experiences and the action around his obsession, but I believe his revenge teaches a great lesson about why we have to work even harder to give up and move forward, without allowing ourselves to be haunted by our pasts.

Sure, it’s so easy to say that. But here’s a picture of me. For over 20 years, I allowed the bullying that happened to me as a child tear me up inside. In the end, it only brought me pain and a great loss of moving forward. It was my white whale and I wanted revenge in the worst way. I was consumed with questions. But when do we take personal responsibility for our own actions or inactions? When do we face our white whale and instead of wanting to kill it, just forgive it and move on?

I believe this is the heart of what we must do to get past the painful aspects of the past. It is mindfulness that allows this forgiveness and yes, the forgiveness is for ourselves. Let’s pretend for a moment that in “Moby Dick,” the captain just lets go of this manic revenge obsession and moved forward. The book would be about two pages, but Ahab would be alive and on the path to healing. 

So what is your white whale? What do you not want to give up, because it is so much easier to blame something on the outside for all of your problems? What is it that keeps this one thing from allowing you to move on?

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

Thinkstock photo via goldhafen.

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The Difference Between ‘Feeling Depressed’ and 'Being Depressed’

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I was having a conversation with my mom recently and it helped clarify a couple of things for me. I’ve been struggling to explain my depression and have felt a need to somehow try to help address the misunderstanding that surrounds it.

My mom used to deliver talks about depression to community groups, so she has a good understanding of it, even though she’s never experienced it herself. She spoke about people who say they are “depressed” when they have a bad day and how that’s different from depression.

It suddenly seemed clear to me. Depression is not a feeling. Depression is an illness.

We all have things that happen to us that upset us: the death of a loved one (furry friends included), the loss of a job, friends that turn away from us, lovers who reject us. It is quite natural to react with strong emotion to these scenarios — to feel depressed at times.

But depression is not a feeling.

Depression might be having something good happen, but you just can’t enjoy it. It’s knowing you love someone, but you can’t connect to the feeling. It’s lying in bed all day when you have so much you need to do and feeling horrible because you can’t do it.

It’s constantly fighting the feeling of not being worthy, of taking up space, of wishing you didn’t exist. It means sometimes taking medications you hate and putting up with the side effects because you fear being without them.

It’s an ongoing battle inside your head. Every minute of every day — never ending, unrelenting and overwhelming. Depression does not take a break.

A bad event, or series of them, as awful as they are, typically becomes easier to deal with over time. We “pull over selves together” and “get on with it.” We draw on reserves of strength we never knew we had to get ourselves to a better place.

The depression, the anger, the fear, the hurt and all the other feelings we had lessen. In some cases, we eventually move on and heal.

Depression doesn’t need an event. It will show up uninvited, unasked for and unwanted. It will unpack its bags and live in your head. It’s not going anywhere.

But you can begin learning how to manage and find ways to deal with depression: understand your early warning signs, take your medication, visit your mental health professional and work on the underlying issues.

I don’t feel depressed, I have depression. Some days, I feel better than others. But I still have depression. I still take my medication. Because depression is an illness.

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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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

Thinkstock photo via Andesign101

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20 Books That Have Helped People Through Depression

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If you live with depression, sometimes facing the day is difficult. When you find yourself fighting symptoms like feelings of isolation, fatigue and ruminating thoughts — just to name a few — it can be hard to cope. Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, it can also be hard to find others who truly understand what you’re going through.

It’s at times like these that books may come in handy.

Sometimes a book gives you the words to explain what you’ve been feeling for so long. Sometimes books can make you feel less alone in your struggle — like someone else has been there, too. Or sometimes a book can simply provide a temporary reprieve from the depressive thoughts that crowd your brain. Whatever the reasons may be, we know books can be useful tools in battling depression, so we asked members of our mental health community to share a book they’d recommend to someone struggling with depression.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini

“It’s a great book for teenagers with depression because it makes you realize there will be people out there who understand what you’re going through, and also the emotions you feel are valid in every way.” — Kenzie L.

2. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

“It’s a biographical book about her struggles and own battles with depression in which she overcame them by accepting her flaws, made peace with her past and love who she has become because of what she went through. The book has and will always help me stay alive. Existence is pain, but it eases a little knowing even the greatest human beings too hurt just like you and me.” — Boonn H.

3. “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig

“This book made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Everything he said in this memoir I could nod my head to. It was real, didn’t fluff over stuff and gave it the attention it needed. Anyone who feels guilt or shame about how they are feeling needs to read this. It normalized my experience and made me feel OK. It was also easy to read with short sections, so I could put it down when I was tired without feeling I had to get to a break.” — Erin W.

4. “Prozac Nation” by Elizabeth Wurtzel

“I totally relate to Elizabeth Wurtzel and she explains how it feels to have depression so well. I felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing someone else felt exactly how I feel now and she survived. Absolutely fabulous book.” — April B.

5. “Feeling Good” by David Burns

“It has completely changed the way I started approaching my own thoughts and moods. I learned to observe them, analyze them and stopped treating them as dogmas. It has allowed to me substitute them with more rational and helpful thoughts, which in turn allows me to say that after many months of depression I finally… feel good.” — Piotr K.

6. “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

“It was a hard and emotional read, but I had never related to a character before in terms of a book character and my depression. I felt like I was looking at myself a lot of times, and it really is such an amazing book. It doesn’t paint it in a glorifying way, and I am thankful for that. Would definitely recommend but be warned it is triggering.” — Kaela W.

7. “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson

“While this book is about an eighth grader and her experience being raped, Melinda struggles with severe depression because of the trauma and struggles to find her voice, metaphorically and literally. Melinda often is mute because of the incident. Her art class becomes her sanctuary and slowly she finds her voice to speak up about the trauma she has endured. While I wasn’t raped, I experienced childhood abuse physically and mentally and when my 11th grade English teacher recommended this book, it cracked my shell and made me have more of an interest in art, which is now how I try and escape my major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder and my PTSD. [My teacher] helped me find the most important thing I’ll find within myself — a voice.” — Ashley C.

8. “Note to Self” by Connor Franta

“In Connor Franta’s book ‘Note to Self,’ he has a whole chapter about living with depression and how to support someone living with depression. It’s beautifully written. His sole purpose isn’t to give depression more awareness, although that is as extremely important thing to do, his purpose is to help people struggling by finding comfort in his words, to know they aren’t alone, to know that even people who appear to live a ‘perfect life’ struggle too. It’s so beautiful to see media influencers using their internet platforms to spread mental health awareness.” — Jasmine M.

9. “If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski

“The author is the founder of the nonprofit To Write Love On Her Arms, which raises awareness and offers help and resources for mental illness and suicide. It’s a collection of blog posts over several years, and I always feel comforted and less alone after reading a section or two.” — Shannen A.

10. “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson

“It’s a youth novel, but it’s so powerful. It lets readers know the darkness you feel can always give way to the light at the end of a tunnel.” — Bailey S.

11. “Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Shenk

“[It’s a] fascinating study of President Lincoln and how depression shaped his life and presidency. It’s a nice reminder you can have a mental illness and still contribute to the world in a positive way.” — Annette A.

12. “Undoing Depression” by Richard O’Connor

“Incredibly thorough, covering many perspectives and crucially says, ‘You need a therapist, you can’t do it alone.’” — David P.

13. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

“It may be slightly triggering, but I could relate to what the protagonist was going through. In a way, it felt good to read the book to know that depression is common, even back in the 1960s, when the story was set.” — Mariah A.

14. “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom

“It’s an amazing storyline and gives an incredible perspective to life and how you live it. Especially your interactions with others and how they can change their lives no matter how small that interaction is.” — Katie G.

15. “You Are Special” by Max Lucado

“It’s a children’s book, but it’s so poignant. The message of the story explicitly contradicts a lot of what depression says about oneself (you’re a mistake, you don’t have value, you’re a burden, etc.) I was given a copy of this book when I was 5 years old, and my mom would read it to me on bad depression days and it would just make everything better. I took that same copy with me to college and I would read it whenever I was really down and now, my husband will read it to me. The book reminds me I’m not a mistake and, despite what my depression tells me, I am worthy of life.” — Ellen G.

16. “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson

“It’s funny, poignant and inspiring. Lawson really ‘takes you there’ and opens up about depression, self-harm, therapy, relationships and the challenges that can come from living a life with mental illness.” — Tiffany A.

17. “My Fight, Your Fight” by Ronda Rousey

“Ronda struggled through her dad’s suicide, dropping out of high school and many other things. Her struggles made her who she is today though, a UFC fighter [who] never gives up.” — Aaron O.

18. Game of Thrones ( A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin

“They were a wonderful distraction and you get so much insight on the characters and their talents and flaws from a first person perspective of so many different kinds of people. You witness abuse through their eyes and you witness how that shapes them and either breaks them or allows them to persevere and grow.” — J.S.

19. “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

“Excellent book especially for those struggling to find hope and meaning in their suffering. Very helpful if you struggle with existentialism, as I do. I highly recommend this book to everyone!” — Bethany P.

20. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

“It’s not a book, but a series. The Harry Potter series, to be exact. This series was the only reason I stayed alive through my teenage years. It’s such an immersive, imaginative, incredible world, and you can’t help but cry with Harry, love with Harry and triumph with Harry. Through all his struggles, he kept going. With his friends love and encouragement, he found hope. Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Kat P.

What would you add?

Thinkstock photo via Tasia12.


20 Books That Have Helped People Through Depression
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Why I'm Taking a Break From Dating to Work on Myself (and My Depression)

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I decided to take a year off from dating. No Tinder or Bumble, no dates, no set ups or casual hook ups. Nothing. Now, to some this may seem like a normal thing to do, we all get busy with work, university and other commitments. Or we just got out of a long-term relationship and want to heal.

But my decision came after I had to admit to myself that my self-esteem rises whenever a man is interested in me. But the morning after, all the effort goes out of the window and they no longer care.

I got back from my European travel, to find out that a few friends of mine had found love. I am honestly very happy for them, but it crushed me too.

I looked back to my history of dating and realized that in my 33 years, that none of them ever loved me back. I had one serious relationship, which was emotionally abusive. The last guy I fell in love with ghosted me after we had sex for the first time, after dating for two months.

It seems like other women find it easy to get into relationships and have someone fall for them as well.

For a long time, I was actually happy being single. I have traveled the world by myself , I keep myself fit at the gym, I have a lot of hobbies and interests.

But when you realize you’re getting older and you have never had a happy relationship, you start to doubt yourself. I knew something was wrong when I lost all interest in my studies a veterinary nurse I worked so hard for, when I didn’t want to get out of bed for two weeks, when looking at photos of myself wanted to make me die.

I felt like a monster, like I had something seriously wrong with me. I suddenly became terrified of aging and started to really resent couples. I felt so alone and embarrassed that I felt this way.

My self-hate has become so bad, I was angry for having to go to work and finish my studies. I just wanted to go to a hospital and I wanted them to help me. I tried everything, and was just tired of feeling like I wanted to die. I saw no hope at all.

It took a while to admit to myself that I need validation from others to feel good about myself. I knew that each time a man that I was interested in lost interest in me, I became extremely depressed. Doubted myself.

Then one night, I deleted Tinder and Bumble. I’ve done that before, but this time I am sticking to it. I decided to take a year off, just to myself. I am going to practice my violin. I am going to finish my studies, hit the gym more often, spend more time with my friends and family and just work on loving me.

And you know what? It’s already working. I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I can go out without wondering if I will meet someone, I have all this time just for myself. No dates, more nights I can spend in watching Netflix or going out for dinner with my friends. I can spend time loving my hobbies and all my interests, without having to worry if they seem dorky or weird to a guy. I can learn to love my body for me, and not work on it so I can impress a guy.

I’m actually excited and feel a new sense of freedom. Of course, I’m open to meeting someone, but I’m not waiting for him or looking.

But my goal for the end of the year is to look in the mirror and feel a sense of self-acceptance, and most of all, whole. Even without another person by my side.

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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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