The Mighty Logo

When Your Depression Is the Elephant in the Room

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I’ve often heard of depression described as “the elephant in the room.”

It’s there, lurking, sometimes larger than life, and it’s hard to know what to say about it. Do you acknowledge the beast? Do you tip-toe around it? And what if that elephant keeps coming back, despite your best efforts?

I often worry I talk too much about my depression to friends and family. How many times can they hear, “I can’t stop crying,” without getting sick of it?

Depression is a hope-stealer, a joy-sucker. It’s that negative voice in your head that just won’t shut up. It’s that feeling that you’re all alone, even when you’re not. It’s the urge to withdraw inside yourself, to shut out the rest of the world until you feel better.

And the irony is that when you shut yourself off from everyone, it only feeds the beast.

Around and around it goes, getting better, getting worse, but never really going away.

Millions of people experience depression. It can feel like a private hell.

There are times I want to sit and write out everything I’m feeling, but that scares the hell out of me because I know what I feel is intense, even though it may be fleeting.

I often wonder if depression has been around since the dawn of time. As I found in this New York Times article, in the past, people with depression would often be termed as having “fits.” In ancient Egypt, it was called “melancholia.” Here’s another article I found interesting in explaining the history of depression.

It has taken me years to get to the point where I “own” my depression, where it’s not some shameful thing but rather a part of me I need to understand and change with. I still despise the way it makes me feel, like I’m being crushed with the weight of all my burdens or my expectations.

The elephant in the room is still there, but I’ve made my peace with it.


Now if only I could teach it to do tricks.

Thinkstock photo by vicnt

Originally published: December 14, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home