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To Those Who Don't Understand My Depression

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

For the people in my life who think my depression is nothing more than sadness, you could not be more wrong.

My depression is irritability. It’s pure anger at everyone and everything. My depression is not having the energy to get out of bed or change my clothes before I get into it. It’s the fear that, at any moment, I could do something to myself that I might one day regret. It’s looking at the scar on my arm and wishing I could do it again, but begging myself not to because that would just be more of a mess to clean up. It’s lying in bed, staring at a screen, not remembering what the actor said only a minute ago because my brain is overwhelmed with thoughts I don’t want. My depression is wishing I was dead but not having the energy to make it so. My depression is bouts of insomnia that are sometimes weeks long. It’s telling everyone I’m just stressed. It’s being misunderstood by my mother because my depression is different from hers, so obviously I can’t possibly be depressed. It’s blacking out while I’m driving. It’s the good days and the bad days. The days I feel a little bit better so I can do more things than usual and the days I can’t do anything at all. But, here’s the thing: that’s just my depression.

For the people who don’t understand another’s depression. Each and every person’s depression is different. Depression is a snowflake; it’s all different. The main problem with depression in this day and age is that it feels like a snowstorm. It’s a snowflake the size of the entire planet and it weighs down on you harder than most things. Along with that, it’s a clear snowflake, one only you can see. In Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” he compares depression to a raven sitting within his vision and continuously reminding him of his pain, even after he dies. I’ve heard authors describe it like a bad dog that is with you from the moment you are born. I like describing depression as a skeleton. A human skeleton. Mine is my skeleton; it’s even my skin. It’s something I can’t escape no matter what I try. It holds me together and it keeps me walking, even if it makes it painful most of the time.

For the people who don’t understand my depression, why do I describe it as my skeleton? I describe it as my skeleton because a lot is wrong with my skeleton that makes it difficult for me to do a lot. My depression does that same thing. It keeps me from doing things I wish I could. But I also describe it as my skeleton because it’s a cage. My skeleton is a cage that holds me to human expectations and my depression is one that holds me back from my own expectations.

For the people in my life who do not understand my depression. My slipping grades? That’s because I can’t focus. Because I go numb. My sarcasm and my anger? That’s the pain setting in deeper and making me hate myself and everything else. My constant talking? That’s me wishing someone could see that something is wrong. My silence? It’s me respecting the fact that my brain is telling me you don’t care at all. My earlier bedtimes? That’s me avoiding life by closing my eyes and lying there until everything goes black and the nightmares set in. My later bedtimes? That’s me wishing more than anything that the nightmares would go away. My perpetual exhaustion? That’s me turning my emotional exhaustion into physical symptoms. My affliction with eating? The self-esteem drop, the disorder I’ve been fighting since the third grade hitting me hard when I’m weak. Any number of things.

Everything you see as abnormal and “stupid” is a result of an unavoidable chemical imbalance in my brain. So, to those who don’t understand my depression, please take that into consideration next time.

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 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Photo by Viktor Kern on Unsplash