The Mighty Logo

Depression Is a Part of Me, but It Isn't All of Me

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

My journey with depression has been long and arduous. As early as high school, I have struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. As I work on recovering from my latest crisis, there are some things I want people to know about me and my experience with depression.

1. Depression is part of who I am. Some days it’s an enormous part of me. It controls all I think, say and do. I try my hardest to wrangle that control away from it, but many times I fail.

2. I am fighting my hardest. I get out of bed in the morning — even when I don’t think I can. I shower and celebrate that small victory. I go to work. I make lists of things to do and of things I have done.

3. Depression is exhausting. It disrupts my sleep. Some days it requires herculean effort just to accomplish the simplest of tasks. By the end of the day, many days, I am drained physically, mentally and emotionally. On those days it takes more effort than I possess just to accomplish the end-of-the-day tasks like emptying the dishwasher and eating.

4. Suicidal thoughts, for me, are a constant companion. However, I am often afraid to express those thoughts, even the passive ones, for fear of judgment and/or overreaction. This is a struggle for me, one I suffer through in silence.

5. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. I don’t want people to feel obligated to take care of me. My depression tells me I am not worthy of the care and compassion of others (or myself).

6. My depression does not care how good or bad my life is or how rich or poor I am. It does not help me to hear how “good” my life is. What does help is real, concrete examples of the positives in my life.

7. Although I do not want to, I need to talk about my depression. I appreciate those who listen non-judgmentally and try to understand. Don’t be afraid if I cry, that may be what I need to do. If what you hear worries you or scares you, do not be afraid to call a crisis line.

8. My depression has proven to be a chronic condition. There are times when it quietly sits in the corner and observes my life. At other times, it acts like a cranky, overtired toddler, disrupting everything with its shrill cries and tears.

9. My depression wants to isolate me. It wants to keep me all to itself. It makes it difficult for me to make or return phone calls, texts and emails. It makes excuses for not attending social functions. Please don’t give up.

10. My depression tells me I’m not good enough and that nothing I do is good enough. This becomes an endless cycle of self-recrimination, which feeds my depression.

I truly do appreciate those who are willing and able to stick by me through the bad times.

While depression is a part of me, it isn’t all of me. I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I can freely enjoy life and all that is around me. On my bad days, that becomes harder. Please continue to stand by me.  I may not be able to express why I am having a bad day. Sometimes I don’t know, sometimes my depression tells me to stop “whining.” Continue to ask how I am without outside distractions. It may take me some time to tell you how I truly am or I may actually be fine. Listen without judgment and without trying to fix things. The more often I am actually listened to and heard, the easier it becomes for me to share my feelings with you. I will try my hardest to be open and honest with you.

Continue to reach out to me, as I will to you. Try not to be offended if I cancel plans or turn you down for a social engagement. Please, continue to ask, but don’t push too hard. I may have to be nudged a bit, but being pushed will make it that much harder for me to say yes. Maybe a text or email exchange is all I can handle at any given time. Remember that there will be other times when I will be able to fully engage in social functions.

On any given day I appreciate random acts of kindness (as do most people). A loving hug, a greeting card in the mail, or a kind word can go a long way in letting me know you care.

This is my experience. If you have depression, you may see yourself in some or all of this story.  The most important piece of advice I can offer you is to surround yourself with people who are willing to attempt to understand and to support you in your journey. Don’t be reluctant to ask for (and accept) help, even if it’s just a sympathetic ear. Remember that you are worthy. Be open and honest with those people who are safe, those who love you unconditionally. Establish boundaries with those who are unable to be supportive. Not everyone will be able to be in your support system. That’s OK. You don’t have to cut off all contact with those people. Just recognize that they may be unable to support you in your journey. In times of crisis, reach out to those who can support you. Don’t be afraid to call a crisis line if needed.

Depression is part of who I am, but not all that I am.

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.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: September 8, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home