It’s hard to admit you’ve got a mental illness. It’s even harder when you’re admitting you’ve got a mental illness that many people in our society don’t even acknowledge as a “real” illness. Depression isn’t just feeling down. It’s not cured by people telling you to cheer up. I don’t think there really is a cure. I think people get treatment and learn coping techniques and they soldier on. Others suffer in silence.
There are days when my depression lies to me telling me I can wait until later to do something. It says, “The deadline isn’t until tomorrow, why not just sit on the couch and watch TV, or better yet, go back to that comfy bed. You know the best days are when you lie in bed and do nothing.” It is a struggle not to fall victim to it. The lies don’t always sound like lies, there’s always a hint of truth. I will feel better if I take a nap. Sometimes, leaving the house really is difficult, and staying home is the easiest thing in the world. There are obvious lies though, the depression tells me I’m ugly, that no one loves me, that I can’t do anything right so why even try. Right now it’s telling me this whole blog post is a crock of shit that no one will read.
I’m lucky. I have an amazing group of friends who help me fight the lies that the depression is feeding me. I have a therapist that I can see weekly who charges on a sliding scale so when I had no insurance I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could actually afford to go.
The commercials for the drug Cymbalta that say “depression hurts” are true. But it’s not always a true physical pain, it’s more of a struggling pain. Part of you knows you need to get up and do something, that you need to do the work in front of you, that you have to get out of bed. But then there’s this other part that’s fighting you every step of the way. It’s trying to convince you that doing nothing is better, that lying on the couch is easier. That these things you feel you need to do can wait until later. It makes your bed talk to you and call you back into it where it’s warm, cozy, and safe. That struggle is hard, it’s painful, and it really makes you beat yourself up even more. Many of us are suffering in silence, not letting others know what we’ve got. I have lost friends over it, and that hurts even more.
You may try to go out in public and put on a happy face, those days can be draining. Your depression will have more fuel for the next battle to keep you inside, away from everything that will help you get better. You retreat again, not reaching out to anyone for another couple of days or a week, maybe more. The cycle repeats ad nauseum.
Depression is a daily struggle, hell – it’s an hourly struggle. Some may laud you as “so strong” but as I’m fighting each hour I don’t feel strong. I feel like I’m going through the motions. I feel like I’m pretending, like I’m a fraud. I sit in my therapist’s office, wondering why I’m there. Wondering if this is really working, is it really helping? Berating myself because of the list of tasks I have to do that I’ve been putting off and now I’m sitting in his office not talking while he stares at me, wasting valuable time.
I write this now because more than one of my friends have posted on Facebook about suffering from depression. One posted this article from CNN about Going Public With Depression. If I can help one person feel like they are not alone, this post will have served a purpose. Because you are not alone. There are so many of us out here, if we’d just speak up and let others know that telling us to cheer up isn’t going to fix us. Depression doesn’t have to control your life. There are sources out there that can and will help you.