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I'm Not 'Feeling Depressed,' I Have Depression

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There is one thing I need you, whoever you may be, to understand.

When I say I have depression, it does not mean I occasionally feel the emotion of being “depressed”; it means I have a mental illness. I have depression. For me, this means I wake up every morning with a new sense of self-hate and getting out of bed is a major victory. It means that some days I don’t get out of bed or have any feeling at all. I feel numb, like there is nothing else around me but darkness and bitter cold. I don’t eat or do anything to help myself, because I see no point.

When I say I have depression, it means on a daily basis my head is poisoned with thoughts of suicide and self-destruction. I want to talk about it, but events in my past have lead me to thinking that no one wants to hear it. I believe I am unimportant and a “burden” to this world. When I say I have depression, it means the chemicals inside of my brain are different.

If you understood this, it might surprise you, I know. Because on the outside I smile a lot. I put others above myself, and I can seem friendly and outgoing. You probably wouldn’t imagine that any of the thoughts I have constantly were mine. I can seem so happy…

I live with high-functioning depression; it does not mean I am happy all the time, but rather that I have learned to hide it and mask the pain I feel so heavily. However, I am happy. When I can’t help myself, I have friends to support me and hold me up. When I feel like nothing is going to get better and the world will always be a weight on my shoulders, I have other things to believe and things to hold onto.

It’s not easy. Some of us take medication or seek professional help, as I do. Every day can be a battle when you have depression, and everyday things can, and may always, be challenges — but it gets better. One thing I do know is the truth about my illness, and it helps me to understand it. I am not depressed, I am not a depressing person, I just have depression. So don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re just feeling an emotion that will move away, because that may not be the case. And letting those thoughts grow can only make things worse. Understand that you can still be happy and not let those thoughts take you over, but you’re likely always going to feel something when you have depression. Understand that, and know you are not alone.

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.

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Originally published: December 9, 2016
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