When You're a Strong Person Struggling With Depression


How can someone so depressed be so strong?

Because I am both. I have been a patient in a psychiatric ward. I have also run a marathon. I have been to rehab for addiction. I have also competed in a triathlon. I am on sick leave because I had a nervous breakdown. But I’ve been at this job for 28 years and I am really good at it.

What does it mean, to be strong? Does this mean physical strength? Well, yes, I suppose that it could. I do, after all, lift weights regularly and shovel a lot of snow, so sure, yes, I am physically strong. Could it mean emotional strength? This, too, could be true. I do, after all, continue to rally despite a sea of negativity swirling in my head. Could this strength be construed as mental fortitude? Sure it could. I have come back from substance abuse, sexual assault, emotional and physical abuse.

It can be tempting to box it up separately; put the depression over here and the strength over there. My experience shows that I can be a depressed person who has the mental fortitude to keep going no matter what. There are many days where I am paralyzed with sadness, unable to move beyond the front door. And then there are those days where I feel well enough to get groceries, go to the gym and visit the library.

I learned to be strong out of necessity. I struggled as an adolescent and no one recognized I needed help. I was abused by family members and sexually assaulted as a very young woman. No one helped me. I was blamed. This is where I learned to stop asking for help and to just keep my head down. Because there wasn’t going to be any help.

So yes, I am depressed. And yes, I am strong.

I am strong because I had to be. 

I have to be.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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

Getty image via Viktor_Gladkov


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

A woman looking up

The Self-Care New Year's Resolutions I'm Making for 2018

The end of a year can be difficult for many people, bringing up mixed emotions and putting expectations on us to make resolutions for the new year. I find resolutions difficult to make/stick to, and the guilt and failure I feel when I don’t stick to those resolutions can be very damaging for my mental [...]
sad crying teen sitting on floor resting head on hand

Why I Don't Blame My Depression for My Relationship Ending

Loving someone with depression is never easy. It can be an unpredictable, yet devastating illness. Sometimes it can even be mistaken for immaturity or selfishness. Like any relationship, it takes love, support, compromise and understanding to make it successful… and to make it last. I entered a relationship in probably the most troubled time of [...]
thoughtful pensive woman sitting on bed

When You Compare Your Depression's Severity to Others

Dear Depression, You have always been a quiet companion. You come long before I realize you’ve claimed your part of the bed. We talk constantly, and our conversations are repetitive. We never fail to bring up all my failures and the pointlessness of any effort I make to create a good life. You don’t let [...]
woman hugging depressed friend at home support

9 Ways to Be a Good Friend to Someone With Depression

I have been fortunate to have great friends throughout the entire time I have been dealing with my depression — my best friend since middle school, good friends from church and close friends at school. They have all played a part in helping my recovery. Being friends with someone struggling with depression can be difficult. It’s [...]