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The Real Reason Asking for Help Is Hard When You Have Depression

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It doesn’t matter how bad you’re hurting, does it?

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve laid in bed with the curtains drawn, hoping the darkness and quiet will offer some relief, an escape from all the guilt and shame you feel. Guilt and shame that comes from collapsing in on yourself, pushing away friends and family, struggling to find even the tiniest bit of energy that will allow you to get up, go to work, take care of your family and live your life the way you think you should.

You still can’t bring yourself to ask for help though, can you?

Asking for help should just be obvious when you’re hurting, right? If you broke your leg, you’d go to the ER. If you came down with the flu, you’d head straight to the Urgent Care. This is different, though, isn’t it? It’s different because you blame yourself.

Accidents may happen and viruses may spread, but you’ve got no one and nothing to blame for the way you’re feeling, do you? You made the wrong choices in life, gave up too easily and just let yourself go. Other people seem to have no problem dealing with life, getting their act together. You can’t even manage to get out of bed. What right do you have to ask for help? Who in the world would even want to help you?

The people you love just don’t or can’t get it. They think you just need a “pick me up” or to turn that frown upside down. They mean well, but all they do is make you feel worse because you can’t give them what they’re looking for. You can’t give them that moment where you just pop up and let them know everything’s better now. Hell, half the reason you’ve drawn inward is because you’re afraid they’ll just get sick of dealing with your issues.  How could you possibly handle it if they saw how weak you really were and decided to wash their hands of you?

That leaves the even more terrifying option: opening up to some therapist. Baring your soul to some stranger who has no emotional investment in you whatsoever. Someone who will pick you apart and lay out all the pieces in front of you, judging you for every shameful thing you’re convinced you’ve ever done. You beat yourself up more than enough. You don’t need some stranger to join in.

So there you are in that dark room, completely convinced by that voice in your head that there’s no helping you. I know that voice is what’s really keeping you there.

It’s the same voice that’s kept me in my room, and it’s not real.

It’s the depression speaking. It’s the product of an illness that distorts the way we see reality and ourselves. It doesn’t just convince us we’re weak. It convinces us we’ll never be anything but. That’s what makes asking for help so hard. We’re so convinced that everyone else will give up on us that we might as well give up on ourselves. We can’t see our own value, so how can anyone else?

That’s easy. They don’t look at us through the distortion. Nobody, and I mean nobody, judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. That’s because they realize that one crucial nugget of truth that we can’t seem to grasp — that everybody has pain. Everybody comes up short sometimes. Like the song goes: everybody hurts, sometimes.

Asking for help is hard, but it’s crucial. You need someone who can see you for who you really are, not what the depression makes you out to be. There’s the rub. Asking for help is so hard because you’re terrified of being judged.  Well, you’ve already judged yourself far harder than anyone else could.

You’re not weak. It’s not just you. You don’t deserve to feel like this. There is any number of loved ones and medical professionals who understand and will do whatever it takes to convince you of that.

Give them the chance.

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Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash

Originally published: April 15, 2018
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