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When You Contemplate What It Means to Live a Full Life With Depression

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Today, I’m contemplating what it means to live a full life. And more specifically — what does it mean to live a full life with depression?

Sayings like “live each day to the fullest” or “look on the bright side” don’t always apply to those of us living with depression. In fact, they can sometimes be harmful for us to hear. Whether from a loved one or a stranger, hearing or reading these words serves as a reminder that might make us feel like we’re failing at something.

Words like these can make us feel like we are lesser people or that there is more we can be doing to eradicate depression from our lives, when we are already working so hard to stay alive.

Depression is more than just sadness. It is often complicated and painful, and it is different for everyone managing it.

I live with a chronic form of the illness — one that returns regularly and is co-mingled with anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia. When I feel depressed — when I am depressed — I worry that it’s the end. I simultaneously fear and desire death. And when I return to good health, I am relieved and grateful to still be here.

So in these moments of clarity — not just the happiest moments, but the regular ones too — I think about what I can do to live a full, meaningful, satisfying life, knowing that part of it will be spent feeling hopeless, numb, empty, dark and scared.

I’m considering what brings me joy. I’m reviewing my gratitude lists and I’m reflecting on what I’m most proud of in my life. My dog, the humans I love, beautiful conversations, creating and appreciating, laughter, peace, simplicity and unpredictability.

I can’t know what a full life will look like for my existence. I can’t know that my existence will feel full by the time it ends. But I will strive to persist through each experience with depression and accept that whatever challenges I face will be balanced by offering opportunities to feel full, bright and hopeful again.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash image via Joyce Huis

Originally published: December 12, 2017
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