For most of my life, I have been the kind of person who smiles at the world but deep inside there’s this big, gaping black hole controlling my emotions. Emptiness. Pain. The feeling of being so alone in the world that nothing ever makes you truly happy. Otherwise known as depression. Before I go into this subject, I want to state that this is my experience with depression.
- Depressive illnesses are anything but rare in modern society. We all know someone who has struggled with depression.
- FACT: By conservative estimates, one in five Americans has firsthand experience with depression, bipolar illness or another mood disorder
- FACT: In a given year, roughly 21 million Americans, or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 or older, are suffering from a mood disorder
- FACT: About 11 in 100,000 people die yearly by suicide; mental illness is the number one predictive factor
I want to start by saying that depression is an illness.
For so many years, I was told to ‘get over it’ or ‘what do you have to be sad about?’ so I held it in. I held in the struggle of waking up every morning and wanting it all to end.
To all those people who are told daily that they need to ‘snap out of it’, you have every right to feel how you feel. We cannot control depression. We can’t stop it from destroying a happy moment and making you feel like you are invisible. Worthless.
“The facts about depression, bipolar illness and related mood disorders speak for themselves. With proper diagnosis and intervention, all are highly treatable or manageable conditions. Yet these illnesses remain largely defined by the many areas where the best efforts of healthcare providers, researchers, academics, politicians, community leaders, patients and families are falling short. Too often, public perceptions of mental illness are ill-informed and sufferers are misunderstood and stigmatized. Gaps exist in the delivery and utilization of care, and under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis are common. These trends are exacerbated by a significant shortage of providers trained in evidence-based treatment practices.”
Please stop treating depression like it’s someone’s way of getting attention.
Unless you’re the one with thoughts of ending it all because you can’t stand the pain, you can’t stop the tears, your life feels meaningless, you might have a hard time understanding what it’s like. Depression doesn’t come with a sad look and obvious check list.
People have a hard time understanding what the depressed person can barely understand herself.
Depression comes as a girl who couldn’t relate to anyone. A girl who could not understand why she couldn’t find pleasure or joy in anything she did.Depression comes as a teen who did amazing in school. A teen who was outgoing and fun and who liked to do things for others.
Depression comes as a woman who has a loving family but she can’t understand why there’s a void in her heart. A woman who is constantly surrounded by hugs, kisses and smiles but struggles to go on day by day.
It can hit you hardest when you are trying to do something with family or friends, leaving you feeling helpless. So you hide behind a smile and ask yourself why it keeps happening.
I used to sit by my bedroom window for hours. And just cry. I felt alone. I felt alienated. I had no one I could talk to and explain myself because most people didn’t get what I was feeling.
My life as an author has put me outside of my home and in front of readers. It’s pushed me to interaction and real-time discussions with others. At first it was overwhelming. I am so grateful to readers for what they’d done for me. For my books. But I found myself withdrawing even more into the emptiness.
- FACT: Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms, usually within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, support groups or a combination of these approaches
- FACT: Now that more and more primary care settings are acknowledging depression and discussing treatment options with patients, outcomes are beginning to improve
So I wrote. Books gave me an escape. They stopped the thoughts of ending the pain and instead allowed me to live in worlds I created. They allowed me to laugh. So you want to know why I chose romantic comedies? There you go. When you’ve lived with depression for most of your life, you need the laughter and the smiles of fun stories. Digging too deep into emotions you don’t understand can trigger things you might not be ready for.
There’s one reason why I chose to write this today.
I want to help.
To those who don’t suffer from depression but know someone who is:
Stop thinking this is just momentary.
Stop telling them to let it go.
Stop saying ‘you have nothing to be depressed about’.
Stop making them feel like they’re being selfish.
Nobody chooses to be depressed. Nobody chooses to live in the constant pain of feeling worthless. Nobody.
Show some compassion.
Do something nice.
Remember that depression is an illness. A lot of people live with it and don’t share it with the world.
- FACT: It is estimated that one third of those who seek help do not receive adequate treatment over the course of their lives
To those who live with this beast of dark emptiness:
Don’t quit. Don’t give up on life.
Find an outlet.
Talk to someone. Speaking your feelings helps reduce the focus on it. It can be a therapist or a friend. Get someone you trust and tell them how you feel.
Do something you absolutely love.
See a doctor.
Don’t put a period in your life. Nobody but you is in control of getting you help.
Go outside. Get a hobby.
Remember that you aren’t alone. That feeling telling you that you are, is wrong. Someone out there loves you. Needs you. Would be broken without you.
More than anything…
One step at a time we can go real far.
Need help? Know someone who does?
1 (800) 273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline