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When Depression Stalks Your Mind

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Since I was a child, it has stalked me. Even with practice, I’ve never been fully prepared for its visits. I learned, quickly, that replacing my locks, barricading furniture in front of the door or luring it into homemade booby traps wouldn’t keep it away. Somehow, it found a way to hide inside of me. My only saving grace was realizing life was less complicated when it slept.

However, I never learned its patterns. I feared the moment it would wake up, dedicated, with its mission solely being me. It tormented me for days, weeks or months at a time. It’s dedicated. It’s ruthless. It’s victims should not underestimate its physical and mind-controlling abilities.

During my teenage years, instead of making friends and building self-esteem, I was forced to fight my own mind. There’s no weapon available for that, nor are there instructions on how to win this battle. When requested to identify my assailant to family and friends, I had no idea of where to point other than to my own self.

Eventually, no one looks any further than depression’s victims. It morphs into us, seamlessly. You might be half-dying at the dinner table, while everyone eats mashed potatoes. No one is aware inside you are being held captive. It laughs, knowing it’s deceived everyone who loves you.

Fighting depression appears completely different on the outside than it does on the inside. On the inside, I’m the most powerful slayer of all time, skillful, patient and dedicated. On the outside, I’m exhausted, unable to smile and all physical energy is gone. In fact, it’s a miracle to have survived at all.

Imagine a soldier leaving a war, and the only comments he/she hears afterward are: “Smile! What have you got to be so tired about? Snap out of it! Don’t you think it’s time to grow out of this phase?”

After living with depression for most of my life, I understand much more about depression than I did back then. First, the bad news:

1. There isn’t always an easy cure.

2. Depression is only half the fight. Constant side effects of medication have been a sideline battle.

3. Stigma is extremely prevalent.

Now, here’s the good news:

Compassion and empathy are contagious. One kind act can change the world. Although, there is no easy cure for depression, compassion spreads like wildfire. As humans, we have a responsibility to love, care and be there for others. I believe this to be the cure for the most difficult part of my battle against depression, stigma.

Whenever you are out, look at every passing face as though it’s on a “Help Needed” sign. Do this until the world becomes a place where each victim, stalked by depression, no longer has to face stigma. Instead, they will, openly, and without shame, display a “Help Needed” sign.

Originally published: August 29, 2016
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