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When People Ask Why I'm Depressed

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Often when you struggle with depression, I’ve found, one of the hardest things to do can be to admit it to others. Faking a smile and saying “I’m fine” can seem easier than either getting silence as a response or, worse, having someone ask why. The thing is, I don’t know. I have no one reason for the depression I’ve struggled with for 15 years now. Some days are OK and other days are treacherous, but I never know why I feel the way I feel.

Please try to understand — depression has less to do with events occurring in my life currently and more to do with my brain circuitry. No antidepressant I’ve ever taken has totally taken away my feelings of worthlessness and helplessness. More often than not, the tiniest things that happen during the day can trigger a spiral down into depression. I’m actually usually too embarrassed to say what triggered my feelings, because even in my own mind it seems silly. But that’s the thing about depression, knowing I’m upset about something small can make me feel even worse about myself.

Think about that for a moment. When I get upset over something small and it triggers the spiral, telling me “don’t sweat the small stuff” or that I need to let it go actually makes me feel foolish and small. Don’t you think I know I “shouldn’t” be upset about it? Don’t you think I wish I could let it go? It seems no matter how hard I try, the thoughts are unrelenting. I feel selfish for feeling how I feel, but I also wish someone would just understand.

I had a great therapist once who told me I needed to “stop should-ing all over myself,” and that has stuck with me for a long time. But the fact is, the world around me “shoulds” on me all the time. I should let go of my feelings. I should ignore the person who upset me. I should be happy about what I have. Please don’t “should” on me. I do it to myself enough. I desperately want to do all I “should” do to feel happy again, but sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months for me to let go of a nagging feeling that has leeched itself onto my mind.

To the people who love me, I want to say I appreciate your well-meaning gestures towards my happiness. I want you to know I need you in my life. I want to say I’m sorry for constantly seeing the downside to everything. I want to mention that I want to change and I’m trying to get better. Please have more faith in me than I have in myself. While I continue in my pursuit of happiness, I just want you to check in on me, to be a shoulder to cry on, or to just listen without judgment.

I don’t have an answer for why I’m depressed. I may never be able to put into words what I’m thinking because the thoughts cycle so rapidly. Tell me you care about me and you love me no matter what. I don’t need advice. I just need empathy, respect and love.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 14, 2016
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