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5 Things I Wish People Who Don't Have Depression Understood

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I have lived with depression for half my life. It has led me to say and do harmful things to myself. In the years I spent trying to make sense of the thoughts in my head, it has become apparent there are still parts of depression that are misunderstood.

Here are some things I wish people who don’t have depression knew:

1. Depression is not a way to gain attention.

In fact, I do not like being the center of attention. I do not like people worrying about me or seeing me when I am in the depths of a depressive episode.

2. Having major depressive disorder does not mean I am depressed all the time.

I have moments of happiness, but I am easily triggered. For me, this means I can be happy one moment. Then, something brings back memories of a time when I was hurting emotionally. Depending on the degree of emotional pain associated with this memory, I can slip into an episode for a few hours to a few days.

3. Depression is not something I can pull myself out of.

Trust me, I have tried. If I had a choice, I would wake up and never experience the utter despair that has become all too familiar with my depression. It is not that easy, though. I can not will it away. Recovery is a process and it takes time.

4. Depression is an illness and should be treated like one.

Therapy helps. However, in many cases, medications are a life-saving and necessary treatment option. It is no different than requiring medication to control any other health problem.

5. A support system is a crucial part of one’s recovery.

For me, having people close to me who genuinely cared about how I was feeling made a significant difference in my healing process. Being able to be honest about my struggles without fear of judgment made me feel safe. It did not mean the process was any faster, but it was less painful.

Originally published: August 3, 2016
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