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To My Friends With Depression, Don't Carry This Alone

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All those friends and loved ones you’ve been hiding your sadness from, your hurt, your pain, your fear and your desire to just disappear — show it to them. Speak. Tell them your story. Tell them how you’re feeling.

They might be able to help you if you would only let them in. You may be afraid they won’t understand. That they’ll start seeing you differently. That they’ll think you are strange or weird.

You might be scared they won’t get it. Maybe they won’t, but leave the giving up to them. It is your job to not give up. I know. It’s hard. It hurts. Someone has to literally shove you out of bed to get you up in the morning, and you fall right back down onto the covers. They can’t be there for you if you won’t let them.​

Don’t you dare do this alone. Don’t try to be your own hero. If you attempt to and fall on your butt from failure, then it’ll cut you twice as hard and bruise you three times as it would have if you had let someone lend a hand in the first place.​

The biggest mistake you can make is not saying anything at all.​ Let them in. Cast all your worries aside. God hears your prayers but He, too, knows human hands can help heal you. So why not let human ears hear what’s going on?​

They are your family and your friends. They love you. Maybe more than you love yourself at this point. They will never desert you.​ Never play “happy” or “bubbly” for their sake. All it does is push down your hurt deeper and deeper into your soul. Your massive attempt to be “happy” or be “bubbly” to remedy whatever it is you are really feeling will only serve to keep your friends at ease and you drowning in a pit of sorrow. Trying to be happy when you are not is probably the cruelest form of punishment you can assign to yourself. Why do it?  ​

I’d rather you tell me of your struggles. Wear out the 10 boxes of tissue, and talk my ear off about how deep the depression you are dealing with is. I’d rather you do this than quietly struggle and silence your life.​

If one friend doesn’t care, then find one who will. If a loved one asks how you’re feeling, then tell them you feel like shit (pardon my language). Don’t dilute exactly how shitty you feel. If you treat it as something trivial, then so will they. They won’t know exactly what you are dealing with.​” They may even smother you with compassion. Let ’em. Unload your burdens onto them. They can take it. Don’t walk around carrying a boulder above your head. It will only crush you in the end.

Let them help you. Let them lift up your spirits no matter how much you’d rather wallow in your despair. If some of your friends cannot take the gravity of it all, then that’s on them, but you have so much living to do.​

It’s not your job to give up. Leave it to them, if they’d rather do that. Focus on your relationships with the ones who really care. Scratch that. Let them do all the grunt work. Just be present, physically. I know many times mentally you will not be present at all, but once you see past those moments, attempt to be present. It’s OK to falter at times. You’re human.

It’s up to you to keep on trying, even through the angst, the nitty gritty, the heartache and the agony. The voice in your head that tells you to give up? Don’t.

I’m not going to tell you to be strong. It seems a cruel thing to say really. “Be strong!” It only insinuates that a person thinks you are weak and the cause of your own distressed state. You’re not.​ Hearing, “Be strong!” is like having one more person setting one more goal you cannot achieve.​

“Be strong.”

“Be happy.”​

It’s OK if you can’t at this point! One day, you will get there. Sometimes, all we as people with mental illnesses can muster is to be “OK,” and sometimes, even that is hard.

I’m pleading with you. Don’t go this alone. I’m sorry if I sound preachy, but I’ve been there. I know people who have been there, and I think this is more for them than it is for me. So I beg of you, please. Por favor. Prego. Pakiusap.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: November 21, 2016
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