An Open Letter To People Who Don’t Understand Depression

By Beth Winze

Dear Person,

I deal with depression everyday.  I am sure that if you already know me or would meet me on the street, it would not be your first guess, that deep down inside I carry a rock of guilt and hopelessness like it’s an extra lung for oxygen.  I keep it buried inside and deal with it, silently frustrated with myself and dealing day-in and day-out with an imbalance of my emotions.  But here is what’s hardest.  When someone finally breaks through enough of the protective walls I’ve built around my disorder to discover my secret, they usually look at me funny and let me know that “It’s just a phase” or “You can’t be depressed.  Your life doesn’t qualify as depression-worthy.”  So I want to put a face on depression, because as much as I am the least likely candidate, I fight with it daily.

People like me who struggle with depression daily aren’t always the melancholy people you see quietly drinking tea in the corner with tears streaming down our cheeks.  I can be the most extroverted person, usually using my out-going nature to avoid the reality of my emotions.  In fact, I usually prefer that people don’t know.  It feels easier to deal with it on my own, and I usually learn that it’s impossible to work through entirely on my own.  Positivity does happen in my life, it comes and goes, but when I feel positive, I also am simultaneously anticipating the minute something negative will interfere with my temporary happiness.

When I find myself in a particularly deep depression the thought of doing anything more then what requires me to survive another day wears me out.  It can be as simple as not hanging out with friends or as massive as completely cutting people off.  And I usually can never explain the exact thing that’s causing so much disturbance in my brain.

I also try my hardest to make people realize that it’s an actual disorder.  When I do trust them to help me, I feel a great fear that I will get scoffed or shrugged off as just another “whiner” about my “dramatic” life.  Ergo, keeping it inside is easier then dealing with scorn.

But I can also tell you this.  There are some people, rare, but true friends out there, who want to know when you are going through depression.  They want to know what makes your heart hurt and talk with you about ways to distract you or encourage you to seek help.  Those are the people I need in my life.  They hold your hand when you are having a panic attack about a future fear and they hold you close when you need to stare silently and deal with your emotions internally.

Depression is a disorder that 16 million adults deal with every year.  It has a very real affect on how we work, sleep, live, eat, and think.  It is easiest to treat with medicine and counseling, but I don’t want to just be another medicated patient pacified by chemicals.  We need people who are willing to understand what depression really is.  People who won’t tell us that our lives aren’t “depression-worthy”, but rather someone who is there, even if they can’t relate.  Depression and other mental illness’s can be addressed and numbers can decline if people would understand the severity of depression.  Please don’t write us off as unnecessarily sad people.  See us as people struggling with a disorder and come along side us and help us with it.

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