No, I’m not fighting cancer, and as far as I know both my children are healthy. I’m not a widow, and I have all of my limbs. I’m not homeless. I have amazing friends and a job that I love. This year has been full of amazing opportunities, so why am I crying? Why am I thinking about how the kids would be better without a sad mom in their lives?
Am I my own worst enemy, or is it this illness known as depression that seemingly appears out of nowhere and saps all my strength? Am I beating myself up for no reason, because I don’t want to believe that’s the case? For the longest time I tried to keep my emotional battle with depression a secret. I would pull out the happy mask and pretend that everything was fine, because admitting I have a problem…well what’s the point in that, right?
Admitting I struggle and take meds doesn’t make me human, it says I am weak and opens the doors to friends and strangers that want to help, but often times the only thing in their arsenal are trite expressions and words of advice that I tune out. “You’re a survivor!” “Hey buck up and be strong, you’ve got this!” “Everyone loves you, what do you have to be sad about?” Let me be extremely clear, I don’t choose to be sad; feeling like I am worthless is not a choice I make.
Yes, I know you mean well, and without a strong support system, maybe I wouldn’t be writing these words. Maybe I would have given up on life. You just want to help and let me know you are there for me to lean on, I get it and I am grateful. Truly I am, but please know that just admitting I am struggling is difficult, and while there are times I would love for you to wrap me in a bear hug while I cry until the tremors subside, there are also times when I just want to climb into my cave and work things out on my own.
I don’t know how to ask for help or accept it, and really, I don’t even know what would help at times like these. With rest, and anti-depression meds eventually I’ll return to myself, the girl that wants to make everyone laugh. I want to be the life of the party, the one that can cheer you up when you’re feeling sad. I ultimately want to beat down my own sadness and defeat it. No one should feel this pain, the loneliness, or defeat that haunts me. I can’t even find the words that describe this pain, its deep, its encompassing and its debilitating at times.
It would be better if depression was predictable like bronchitis or a sprained muscle. I wish I could put a timetable on my emotions, and when they’ll return to normal. I wish I could tell you the magical words to make me feel better, or heck, I wish words existed to make us both feel better. If a spa day or vacation could cure these overwhelming feelings of defeat and worthlessness, well I wouldn’t need anyone to suggest it.
I spend enough time beating myself up, I don’t need any help. Sometimes when you offer words of “encouragement”, I hear you say I’m not doing enough, I don’t want to get better”. Days when I don’t want to get out of bed, I label myself as lazy. When I don’t feel like cooking dinner, I label myself a bad Mom.
Depression Sucks: How Can You Help?
What do I need? Time, space, support, empathy and permission are at the top of my list. Give me some time to process my emotions; talking about it can make me feel worse. Support me and let me know that you won’t grow tired of being there when I need you. Try and understand that giving me advice or telling me to get out of the house, quit my job, etc. isn’t necessarily what I need to hear. Tell me it’s okay to be sad. Give me permission to express my feelings without judgment or pressure. Make me laugh; maybe I just need a small distraction. Understand when I say no to lunch or seeing a movie, but don’t give up on me.
I often try and hide my struggle from even my closest friends because I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be the center of attention or someone else’s problem. I want to get better. I want to fight.