Depression Is Not a Choice

Depression is not a choice. If it were, people wouldn’t select to be depressed. Nobody wants to be depressed, and people don’t choose to feel suicidal.

Mental illness can be brutal. We manage it. Like any other disease or chronic condition, it may require the care of medical professionals.

With depression, the first step is to acknowledge it’s there. Avoiding it, pretending to be OK and moving through life as if things are going well isn’t the way to handle depression. In fact, when you do that, depression can come back stronger, more persistent, angrier and more intent on being heard.

Sometimes people with depression feel broken. But your brain is lying to you, and you don’t have to believe it. That’s where the “choice” part comes in. You may not have asked to have depression, but you can choose the way in which you deal with it. You can work with a therapist to find ways to cope with your feelings. There are support groups out there, whether they are online or in person. There are people just like you who are fighting with their minds.

One of the hardest parts of living with depression is the loneliness, the feeling that you are the only one with those feelings when in reality you are not alone. Some people genuinely get what you’re experiencing. It’s a matter of finding your tribe — seeking out like-minded individuals who get it. You can share your struggles and feel less alone. Even if your experiences vary in severity, there are still likely commonalities you’ll find.

Remember that some people are ignorant or uneducated when it comes to depression and mental illness. They might tell you that you’re exaggerating, it’s not that hard, you’re dramatic or lazy. You’re not making your condition up. Depression is real, and it can severely affect us as human beings. It can be deadly in some cases, which is why it requires medical attention. So if people try to convince you that you are not trying hard enough or you’re a burden, don’t listen to them. They probably don’t understand what it’s like to fight with their brains.

There are some incidences where it’s worth educating people who don’t “get it.” You can send helpful articles to them or have them talk to other people who have depression. However, if they don’t understand your pain, that’s OK. They don’t have to.

All you can do is try your best to learn coping mechanisms for your illness. Go to therapy and speak candidly about the thoughts you are dealing with, the ones impairing you from functioning. If you have a good therapist, they care about your wellbeing and want to help you succeed and be well.

Be patient, and try not to beat yourself up. Depression can be severe at times, and if you are having trouble getting out there and seeing your friends, know that is a typical symptom of depression. However, just because you are feeling overwhelmed or down doesn’t mean you need to give up. In fact, pushing yourself a little to call a friend can sometimes make you feel a little bit less alone. Keep fighting, keep talking about what you’re going through, and remember depression is not a choice, but you have a choice as to how you cope with it.

Getty image by MatiasEnElMundo

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