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Why 'Reaching Out' Doesn't Always Feel Like an Option When I'm Struggling With Depression

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Often the most painful part of depression is the effort I have to make to hide it. If you have never experienced depression, you may not understand the need I feel to hide it. You may never comprehend the shame and embarrassment I feel. All the while my family and friends say things like, “Maybe if you reached out, things could get better.”

For me, it often feels like doing so won’t help. I feel like all it will do is add pressure to every move I make. I feel like I would have to question every action I take to make sure you don’t think my problems are bigger than they actually are.

I don’t want you to worry about me, and I definitely don’t want to see the look of pure terror on your face every time I have a bad day.

A common misconception is people with depression or anxiety don’t reach out because they don’t trust you. In my case, that could not be further from the truth. I do love and trust you.

I want you to think of me as a strong friend who can be a rock for others. I want to be someone you can lean on. If I told you everything, I fear you would think I’m “damaged goods.” Then what? My loved ones might start treating me like a patient in a hospital, observing my every move. I feel like I would lose any sense of “normalcy” I have managed to maintain.

It may sound “crazy,” but telling you would really be like fully admitting it to myself. I have depression and it scares me. What scares me more than this is the thought of you leaving because of it.

I know you don’t always think I can do it on my own, but I want you to let me learn how. When I was learning how to ride a bike, you didn’t ride it for me, did you? I believe the only way I can learn to live with my depression is if you let me.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via JZhuk.

Originally published: May 11, 2017
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