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7 Things I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About My Depression and Road to Recovery

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These are a few things I wish the people close to me understood about my battle, but they’re also the things I struggle to find the words to say out loud.

1. Depression has many faces.

It isn’t always sadness and crying into my pillow. It’s looking blankly around a room full of people and feeling alone. It’s the overwhelming feeling of guilt that you can’t enjoy days out with family and friends and plastering on the well-worn fake smile to mask the anger you feel when you can’t “get a grip” and be “normal.” It’s the lack of emotion that leaves you with the dreaded numbness and the next minute the sudden rush of all your emotions that leave you in tears of exhaustion and frustration.

2. I’m not using my illness as an excuse.

The dogs that need walking? The house that needs vacuuming? The important email that needs sending? On our “good” days, these are things we would do without much hesitation, but on our “bad” days, it’s a constant battle between the anxiety that worries, questions and panics us versus the lack of motivation and negativity. We are not being lazy; fighting a constant battle in your mind isn’t easy.

3. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

Like everyone, we have good and bad days — just imagine them on an intense scale that we can’t just “snap out of.” So especially on these bad days, acknowledgment for the little things we achieve is appreciated. We got showered and dressed? Put a wash load on? Vacuumed the house? Walked the dogs? A little acknowledgment can mean a lot.

4. There might be setbacks. 

As frustrating as it is for you, it’s frustrating for us, too. And a lot of the time, we don’t even know our triggers, which makes it increasingly difficult to answer “Why?” It may be a bumpy journey, and hopefully we will get through it together.

5. Thank you.

I know it can be hard supporting a loved one through depression, and sometimes it may feel your efforts aren’t appreciated, but they are. More than you will ever know. When you listen to our rants, hold us through our silence or simply offer a sincere hug and a smile, it means the world.

6. I’m still here.

I have a mental illness, I am not my mental illness. Behind the exhaustion, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and numbness, I’m still in there. I’m just a little lost at the moment fighting a silent battle.

7. I love you.

I may not love myself at the moment, but I still love you. I may not say it as often as I feel, but one day I’ll be able to love you a little louder.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: June 16, 2016
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