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.
National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC)
- 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
I read this and agree with everything you said! I think everyone should read it! Thank you!!
Wow, you just described me. Small world. Thank you, Milly. My family still to this day doesn’t understand what happened to me for 12 years. So much life lost because of it. Now I look back at the void without fear because I know the shadows are part of my life. Still taking it one day at a time
Thank you for sharing this. I know it’s not an easy thing to discuss, but very important. I always have an ear available for you. Hugs.
Thank you so much! It is hard to get those people who don’t suffer from depression to understand what we experience. I now know why I felt you are a kindred spirit! I see myself in you and I read your stories as a wonderful escape! Meds and therapy are godsend!
“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.”
I wonder how many other authors got started in the same way. Worked for me, for the most part. Lost in a story is the place to be.
I thank you for this I feel like this a lot myself I just don’t show it to others. I am sorry that you have had to go through this but to know that you acknowledge it and want to help others is so amazing. Hugs.
I suffer from depression with mood disorders. Did try to commit suiside 2x, but luckily, it didn’t work. Found out that I have PCOS (causes an inbalance in the hormones in your brain). I sometimes get these “black” moods were it feels like the world is against me. When they come on, I try
to work through them with exercises that a psychologist gave me. I also take an antidepressant that helps.
Oh, Mills, so sorry to know that you suffer from depression. I have a firsthand experience with depression. It happened during the 3-year rehab from the accident that ended my law enforcement career, and I often felt it was far worse than the catastrophic physical injuries that left me disabled. I had no idea what was wrong with me, I just knew something was wrong. A blood test showed low serotonin levels, and I was prescribed an SSRI, which helped until I healed and my levels balanced. And while that was my lone experience with depression, it was hell. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Much love and support to you, brave lady. It takes courage to share such personal information about a very serious problem that is stigmatized to the point that so many go without help for fear of being ostracized.
Thank you for sharing something so personal. I understand as I have a constant battle with this issue myself. Sometimes you feel like you are in dark tunnel but there is no light at the end. If you need to talk – I’m here for you. Lots of Hugs.
Wonderful, compassionate blog. I hope everyone reads it.
This hits really close to home for me. I’ve battled depression all my life. I’ve lost friends because of it. They’ve told me to just get over it so I got over them. Thank you for posting about this. Its something that everyone should really read and understand.
Milly, my heart goes out to you. I, too, suffer from depression caused by Bipolar. I also suffer PTSD from my military service. I blocked a rape for 35 years and couldn’t understand why I felt so worthless, guilty and shamed. Thankfully, I am getting the treatment I need now, and my wonderful husband is my rock! Without him, each day would continue to be a bad day. While I never harbored thoughts of suicide, I engaged in very risky behavior. Now that I have remembered that horrible night, I understand what it feels like to be told by people “just get over it”. One such person was a Psychologist! I told her (yes it was a woman) if you’ve never suffered depression or PTSD, you have no idea what I live with on a daily basis. You have no right to judge me! I have been in therapy for nearly 4 years, and finally I can talk about it without breaking down completely (although I did shed a few tears as I write this). Milly, thanks for letting the world know that depression is real, that lives are lost because of it. You rock!
Hey Milly, my niece has depression, she was in. An auto accident and now has ptsd…
I am so sad for her and she recently left her husband who still loves her so so much..she says she loves him, she is just not IN love anymore.
He hurt her by not being there for her emotionally, and she won’t give an inch..the kids are suffering for it…
I’m gonna keep doin all I can for her to find her way back to us.
My mom and dad both were horribly depressed almost 3 years ago my mom died a death due to toxicity of two major pain meds, my dad followed seven months later they were only 69 (mom) and dad at (62)…I miss them so much.
We won’t let Shayna( niece)fall in the cracks….