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The Single Phrase That Pushed Me Deeper Into Depression

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I lived in my depression for two years before I started my healing process. I was angry, I was isolating, and most of all I didn’t feel the point of living my life. In my head, it was already over.

Who would blame me after being denied from SSI, getting kicked out of the state services that were supposed to help me and getting fired from my temporary job, all happening within three months? It was a lot for an anxious 20-year-old. It would be a lot for anyone at any age.

During this time, it felt as though the world was against me; that my life was some kind of humorous entertainment for whatever higher power was sitting on their decorated throne watching over me. It felt as though I was alone, that no one cared enough to reach through the darkness and pull me out.

My support system didn’t know how to support me. My parents blamed themselves for my misery; I. in turn, blamed them too. My mom almost kicked me out, but her heart stopped her from doing so. My friends weren’t there. They told me I should’ve reached out if I needed them, but they didn’t understand that I couldn’t. We hadn’t built that kind of foundation. It also hurt that they didn’t think to reach out to me when I became a ghost in their lives. The only person I could really talk to was my best friend, though talking was an extreme stretchI would tell him I was struggling and he would simply say: “I’m sorry.” 

Through all of this, there was one thing that bothered me more than anything else. There was this phrase I heard everywhere I went and that came out of so many mouths that it became my enemy. This single phrase pushed me closer to the edge than anything else that was going on my life.

I could deal with the fights from my parents, from the lack of attention from my friends, but the one thing that I couldn’t deal with?

“Things will get better. No matter what you are feeling right now, things will get better.”

I know what you’re thinking: how could this phrase be the thing that pushed me to the edge? Shouldn’t it have given me a sense of hope? Shouldn’t it have been the thing that kept me holding onto the rope that was my life?

Well, to be honest, this phrase did the exact opposite than the purpose it was created for. It sent out a signal that just because your life got better, mine will too. Which … is the meaning of the phrase, but it also gave me the signal that you weren’t even listening to a word that I said. Things were not going to get better. Sure, things did for you, but it won’t for me because I have been in the same place I was since I graduated high school. You? You were able to travel across the country with your friends. You were able to get your schooling paid for through a scholarship. You were able to experience so many different things where the only thing I felt I was experiencing was the same four walls and the same pain day in and day out. Most of the time, it felt as though you were showing off your changed life in the face of my pain.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This phrase is said with good intentions; these words were put together for the purpose of love and hope. But that is not what I heard. Some part of me knew that things were going to get better. I knew that my pain wasn’t going to stick around forever. However, being told constantly that things would get better made me fight even harder that it wasn’t. It made me believe that I was going to stay in the exact same place for the rest of my life, and it gave me permission to attack anyone on sight who spoke the phrase.

Through my process of healing, I came to find that what I really needed was someone to listen. I didn’t need the advice or the book version of what to do. I needed someone to be curious. I needed someone to ask me how I was, what was going through my head, and if it got really bad, I just needed someone to be there, holding my hand and telling me that it was OK to feel what I was feeling.

It’s OK not to be able to find the words to say. Depression is a hard thing to deal with on either side. It’s a heavy subject that needs compassion and acceptance. I don’t need you to understand how it feels. I don’t need you to have all the answers. I just need you to be there for me. I need to listen and hold me and allow me to feel all the hard emotions that are living inside of me, because they all deserve to be heard by me, and I need to learn how to listen to myself through the good and the bad.

As for “it gets better,” save the phrase for when my motivation comes back. Save it for when depression has eased its hold and I am ready to listen — when I am ready to receive the advice of your story without comparing the feeling of pain in my own. Because, all in all, it’s a good phrase with love and purpose, and its light shouldn’t be snuffed out by a moment of darkness.

Photo by Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash

Originally published: May 31, 2020
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