As a person who lives with severe depression something I have to remind myself is that my mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, but it also does not define who I am. There is so much more to me than my mental illness. So many college students, like myself, struggle with depression; it is not uncommon to be diagnosed. Whether depression is an obstacle in your life or not, these are some truths about battling depression.
1. Sometimes there isn’t a particular reason as to why we’re depressed.
There isn’t always a trigger as to why someone becomes depressed. Depression can be caused by a traumatic event or losing someone important, but sometimes there isn’t a reason as to why someone becomes depressed. I think people always assume there needs to be some reason as to why someone is suffering from depression because of its portrayal in movies and TV shows. However, depression has the ability to affect anyone despite what’s going on in their lives. Some days people with depression wake up and just feel awful and there really isn’t any good explanation or it.
2. We don’t want to hurt you.
During my extreme depressive episodes, I would oftentimes disassociate and say hurtful things to my family and the people I was closest too. Afterward, I would apologize profusely and feel awful that I acted in such a horrible way to the people I cared about most. I wasn’t proud of myself and I wished that I could stop hurting them. No one with depression purposely wants to hurt the people closest to them, but sometimes it is really hard to control what we do or say when the pain we are experiencing is chronically weighing us down. If we could prevent our family and friends from watching us struggle, we would but depression is like this giant cloud that is oftentimes hard to escape.
3. Anti-depressants don’t work instantaneously and sometimes the side effects can be draining.
I never wanted to take medication for my depression, but I was such a dark place that I needed extra help to get myself out of bed and stay motivated. A lot of common depression medications like Lexapro take at least a few weeks to actually start to notice a change in how your feeling. Our mood won’t change immediately after starting the medication and oftentimes we’ll have some side effects like fatigue, headaches, lack of sexual drive, and insomnia that make it challenging to deal with.
4. Sometimes we feel like our problems are too much and we’re a burden to you so we isolate ourselves.
One of the most common things people with depression think on a daily basis is that they are a burden to everyone in their life. Even if it’s not true we feel like it is because depression takes over our thought process and the way we view people and relationships. Since people with depression don’t want to overwhelm you with their problems and vulnerabilities, a lot of times they isolate themselves. If we don’t respond to you, it’s not because we don’t care for you, it’s probably that we do care and we’re just scared to share how we’re feeling.
5. We’ve gotten really good at faking a smile and pretending we’re okay in public.
We could be crying all day and then wipe off our tears and act like nothing happened. When you live with depression, you learn all the ways to hide how you feel. It hurts at times to smile and act like we’re fine when all we want to do is break down and be alone. One of the phrases that could signal that someone’s probably not okay is when they say are “fine.” You’re probably far from feeling fine, but just don’t want to admit it.
6. Small tasks that may not seem like a big deal are pretty major to us.
For me, physically getting myself out of bed and brushing my teeth in the morning is extremely difficult. The day to day tasks like waking up, brushing your hair, taking a shower, getting ready, etc. are hard to accomplish when you don’t feel capable of doing anything. These mundane tasks probably don’t mean that much, but for people with depression, it is a big deal when we take care of ourselves and complete these everyday things.
7. There is a difference between being sad and having depression.
It’s one thing to be sad about something for a couple days and another to constantly live with suicidal thoughts and the inability to feel well or present. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and it doesn’t automatically go away. The sadness consumes are entire life at times and can make it difficult to function and affect our work, social lives, and physical health. We don’t choose to be depressed, it’s just something that we have to learn to live with.
8. The suicidal and self-talk are exhausting and never-ending.
“You’re not good enough.” “You’re not pretty enough.” “You suck.” “Why are you so awkward?” “No one likes you.” “You’re better off dead.” These are just some examples of thoughts that constantly go through a suicidal, depressed person’s mind. Oftentimes the thoughts can get in the way of us living our lives. We don’t want to beat ourselves up, but our brain just keeps repeating that we’re not good enough so we start to believe it.
9. It hurts us so much when you tell us that we’ve changed or they just want us to go back to the way we were.
We wish we could go back to our normal selves all the time, but we can’t help the way that we feel. It’s so hurtful when someone says that they miss the way we once were because that’s all that we want but it feels impossible. We’re trying the best we can to cope with depression so just be supportive and encourage us to keep getting help.
10. It means the world to us when people reach out to us at our lowest points.
Even if we don’t respond right away, it is so comforting and kind to have a friend or family member reach out to you. It just shows that they’re there for you and that you always have someone to turn to even in the darkest moments.
Depression is rough, but when people have the right support system and are getting the help they need, it is helpful and they will eventually learn ways to cope. Remember that it’s perfectly okay to feel any emotions that you have; be honest with yourself and keep staying strong.
Were any of these truths about living with depression accurate to you or anyone in your life? Let us know in the comments below.
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Caitlyn is a third-year student at UCLA. She is majoring in English. She enjoys writing, and going to hot yoga classes and, of course, binge-watching Netflix. At UCLA, Caitlyn is a feature writer for HER Campus, part of the American Cancer Society club, and a member of Alpha Gamma Delta.