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When People Don't Think You Can Have Depression If You Have a 'Great Life'

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People often ask how someone with a “great life” — e.g. wonderful friends and family, a secure job, physical beauty, and shining health — can possibly struggle with depression.

But they may as well be asking if someone with all those great things can develop any medical ailment.

Depression is an illness.

It’s not a choice. It’s not a mindset. It’s not a bad mood you snap out of.

It’s entirely independent of how much money you have, how fit your body is, how wonderful your family and friends are, or how much of the world you’ve traveled.

I have depression.

I have all those wonderful things mentioned above. The things I’ve done with my life are admired by and inspiring to those in my circles. On the outside, it may look like I have the world by the balls.

But with depression, none of that matters.

My depression is situational, rather than a constant shadow. Events and people’s actions will trigger it (e.g. getting rejected by a romantic partner, not getting invited to something, being the only single person around couples).

I imagine that everyone else around me has lived a thousand lives before this one, and they have all mastered what we call life.

Me, though. This is my first go around. I’m flailing like a baby giraffe. Wobbly, unsteady, looking around to see how everyone else is doing it.

I’m constantly doubting my choices. I feel everything I do is wrong — that everyone knows better than I do. I’m so afraid of messing up.

On my worst days, I can’t get up off my couch. I try to sleep as late into the day as I can, simply so there are fewer hours to be awake. I feel sick to my stomach and can’t eat or drink.

It’s paralyzing.

Absolutely nothing anyone says makes me feel better. Vicious thoughts will run rampant through my brain and tell me I’m not good enough for anyone, that I’m not worthy of anything, and that the future is dark and pointless.

I simply have to wait. I know it will pass.

But in those moments, everything feels impossible.

Being alive feels like a tremendous task; I wonder how my heart can possibly make another beat amidst the sadness.

All this, despite all the good in my life.

Despite all the support I have from my loved ones. Despite all my accomplishments. Despite all the money in my bank account. Despite how great I look in a pair of tight jeans. Despite the fact that I can bike 150 miles with no problem, or run a half marathon with minimal training.

Here is why:

Depression is a dark cloud that surrounds you and hides all the possibilities and beauty in the world from your sight — so you are left staring into a dark abyss, millions of miles away from the life you desire. You can’t fathom how to get out of it. Nothing makes sense.

Sometimes, there is no “cause.” It’s complicated. It’s fleeting and mysterious. It’s terrifying, when you awake in the middle of the night in the rawness of feeling so utterly alone, especially if you don’t have the warmth of someone laying beside you.

It’s a feeling of always trying to find your way out, finally, into the sunlight.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: January 23, 2017
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