9 Things I Want Others to Understand About My Depression
One of the hardest things about depression, for me, is losing my voice. I sit in meetings with medical professionals, listening to my care coordinator speak for me. I tell my friends about the negative thoughts spinning around in my head, and they tell me it’s just my illness talking. I have stilted conversations with family members because no one seems to want to mention the elephant in the room. I don’t have the courage or the energy to speak up about what it’s really like to be in the depths of a depressive episode.
Here’s what I wish I could tell everyone.
1. I’m trying.
It may not look like it; in fact, it may well look to you as if I’m not achieving very much at all. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that — it feels that way to me, too.
But I really am trying. I wish I could communicate just how much trying goes into getting out of bed in the morning, having a shower, making packed lunches, walking the kids to school…
These are all things that might otherwise be easy, but for me, right now, they’re not. But I’m trying.
2. Depression can be unpredictable.
This is a really hard part of the illness for me: I hate being unreliable, but depression has made me that way.
It’s so hard to predict how I’m going to feel from one day to the next. And I feel awful about myself when I commit to doing something next weekend and then I just feel too unwell to do it. I don’t want to let anyone down.
3. I’m not using it as an excuse.
It might look as if I am when, for example, I’m fine with going for dinner at a friend’s house, but not with the in-laws coming over for a casual bread-and-soup lunch.
But I’m not using depression as a get-out clause for things I just don’t fancy doing. Some things feel achievable, and some things push me to the brink. Often for no apparent reason. I wish you could accept that I’m not milking my illness to suit myself.
4. I’m terrified of not being good enough.
I feel like a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad friend, a bad Christian, a bad daughter, a bad daughter-in-law. I can never be good enough. I can never be “enough,” full stop. My confidence and self-esteem are at rock bottom.
5. I feel like a burden.
I wish I could take back all the needy text messages I’ve sent, all the requests for help, all the hours I’ve spent sitting on people’s sofas in tears or in silence.
When your phone buzzes and you see my name on the screen, I worry that you sigh inwardly. I hate that you might think that about me, but I would understand why. I feel like a burden, a problem. I fear you wish I’d never become a part of your life.
6. I want to be trusted.
I want you to trust me if I say I’m well enough to help with Sunday school/babysitting your kids/baking a cake for the school fete. I feel better about myself when I’m able to help other people. And when I’m not entrusted to help, it’s hard to bear. Really hard.
7. I can make my own decisions.
Not always, admittedly. Sometimes I need your input. Sometimes I need you to come with me to a psych appointment and make sure I’m heard. But although I have a mental illness, I still have my own opinions. I find it very difficult for others to make decisions about what I am and am not able to do, especially if they’re not decisions I would make myself.
8. It’s not just mental.
It’s physical. Intensely physical. I have never known tiredness like it. Not even in the early stages of pregnancy. I can take double doses of sleeping tablets and sleep for 13 hours and still wake up feeling as if I’m in a fog.
When I drop out of choir because I’m too tired for the evening rehearsals, it’s not the sort of tired a cup of tea and a good sing can fix. My mind is tired, my bones are tired, every single bit of me is tired.
9. I love you.
I love all of you. Children, husband, friends, family: I love you. When the suicidal feelings threaten to overwhelm me, I know it may seem as if I’m saying the love of everyone in my life — and my love for all of you — isn’t enough to keep me here.
What I’m actually saying is I love you all so very much that I want to set you free. I feel as though I am a “problem” in your lives, and only I can solve it.
Image via Thinkstock.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
Follow this journey on Lucy’s Depression Diary.
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