The Mighty Logo

An Almost Infinite List of Things to Know About My Depression

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Given time, I could probably expand this list infinitely; there’s no shortage of things I would like to tell people about my mental illness.

However, being disciplined, I’m keeping this brief, and I am limiting myself to just five. (And, for the record, you’ll never know how hard it was keeping to that target).

1. I am not “putting this on.” This is not an act.

My depression isn’t a nefarious masquerade designed to elicit sympathy or money, or to abdicate blame when I have done something wrong.

It’s an illness.

And, quite frankly, one I wish I didn’t have.

There is a huge amount I can do to manage it effectively, and — historically — I have not always done that particularly well, but there are times, even when I’m taking my medication, even when I’m employing every coping strategy under the sun, when my depression controls me.

On very bad days, it calls the shots. In advance, I would to apologize now for those days; they will happen, and they’re going to be very little fun for you.

However, when they do, please remember I am not doing it on purpose. None of this is “an act.”

2. Next, if I need time and space, it’s because those two things are necessary to my mental well-being.

It isn’t personal; I just need them.

I’ll help you through that process as much as I can, but I still need them and a bit of patience. Well … a lot, really.

It’s not rejection, I’m not pushing you away or suddenly hate you; it’s more likely that, in that moment, I’m too busy hating myself. It’s simply self-preservation whilst I wrestle with something.

3. Sometimes “weird” things trigger my depression.

For every obvious trigger (e.g. a very public figure dying by suicide, and then the inevitable discussion that follows that event, as happened very recently), there’s a dozen smaller things that I can’t fully explain.

And, although they might appear small, trivial even, they’ve affected me, and — although I’ll try my best to minimize their impact — I just need an ounce of compassion in that moment. Not much, because the chances are the storm will pass.

But, being told things like “I’ve reached my limit on this,” or “you need to let it go,” or “stop so being so sensitive,” won’t help much.

There’s a kind-of jokey saying that goes, “No woman, in the history of mankind, has ever calmed down after being told to calm down.” Well, no depressive has ever felt better after being told, “it was nothing.”

Trust me: It never works.

Just accept that my “trigger” might not make sense to you.  I don’t expect you to understand: Just accept.

4. Although it might get tiresome and irritating, one of the by-products of depression is low self-esteem.

Now, I’ll do all that I can to work on that, but whilst I do, one of things I’d like people to know is that this can make me incredibly shy and awkward. Most of the time, I’m fine; I love going out and meeting new people. But, sometimes, especially when my mood is low, social gatherings are terrifying to me. When I’m in that place — wavering — just give me time and a bit of encouragement.

I’ll come round, I will, but I need a bit of TLC whilst my brain tries to talk me out of it. However, like most of these, I think that probably applies to someone without depression as well; who doesn’t love a bit of praise and support?

5. Although it might be easy to dismiss everything that comes out of my mouth as the product of my mental illness, sometimes it’s not: sometimes they are genuine things I’m unhappy with.

I will try to be firm and clear at explaining that — in saying, “this isn’t the depression talking; I’m honestly, really, actually upset, annoyed, hurt or furious at this.” All I ask is that you hear me.

And that’s it.

Those are my five.

There’s plenty more; I’d be amazed if I didn’t revisit this topic. But, that’ll do for now: Let’s focus on those. And, if we do, I can promise you, you’ll get to know me a great deal better.

I promise.

Photo by Zan on Unsplash

Originally published: April 30, 2020
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