Don’t tell me I’m not depressed

(Today’s post is not funny or witty. I wish I had a happier way to sum all this up, but honestly I don’t. This is a difficult path to recovery and sometimes it’s just not all roses and sunshine. It’s hard. It’s ugly. And it’s my life. I live with depression every single day. But I’m on this journey so that one day I won’t have to. I wanted to share this because…well…I know I’m not alone in this.)

We all know about depression. It’s feeling down and sad and wanting to sleep all day. Crying over small things, not fixing your hair, never changing out of your pajamas, not leaving the house.

Except that’s not what depression really looks like for most people.

Not at all.

It’s certainly not what depression looks like for me.

Are some of those things common with depression? Sure. But by that standard, most people that struggle with depression don’t appear to be depressed. They are your friends, your neighbors, your relatives, people you smile at as you walk past them in the grocery store. Parents of your children’s friends, Facebook friends from childhood, the lady that answers the phones at your office, the man that delivers your mail.

Depression isn’t a badge that people wear around with pride. It’s something that many people hide, because it is…depressing. For some, it is crippling.

Yeah, I laugh a lot. I have fun with my family. I work for myself, cook dinner every night,  do stuff around town on the weekends and chat it up on the phone with friends. Those are some of the ways that I cope. What you don’t see is all the stuff I keep hidden away, the ugliness.

Depression is more than just being sad.

Depression is being terrified to answer the phone because it might be something negative and you just can’t take much more.

Depression is counting down the minutes to bedtime for your kids because you need a drink, and going for liquor over beer because you just need to be numb as quickly as possible.

Depression is eating when you aren’t hungry or bored. Just eating and eating and eating because you need some way to feel fulfilled.

Depression is wanting to get home as soon as you can so you can get in bed and curl up alone before you lose it in front of everyone.

Depression is spending mindless hours late into the evening online watching Youtube videos because it’s better than going to bed and lying there in the dark thinking about how crazy you feel.

Depression is avoiding sex with your partner because you know you’ll just end up crying at the end because you feel so broken.

Depression is feeling like you are going to throw up and cry every second of the day and focusing all of your energy on sucking it up and keeping it together.

Depression is acting like you are strong and in charge even when you feel weak and lost.

Depression is despising everyone around you just because interacting with them makes it all the more challenging to keep it together.

Depression is feeling like there is something wrong. With you. Deep down inside. Something that won’t ever be able to be fixed.

Depression is worrying that you’ll always be this way. That you are inherently fucked up.

Depression is feeling heartbroken and hopeless, and not knowing why.

Depression is a desperate search for relief.

Depression is feeling hollow, empty, like your chest is caving in.

Depression is consuming.

Depression is raw.

Depression is nasty.

Depression is ugly.

Depression is debilitating.

Depression is embarrassing.

Telling people that you are struggling with depression is hard. Not so much because you are telling them, but because of their reaction.

“But you don’t look depressed.”

“But you’re always so happy!”

“Maybe it’s just your hormones. Are you about to start your period?”

“You’re just in a funk.”

“You seem fine to me.”

“You just need to deal with it. Everyone gets depressed.”

“Oh yeah, I get like that sometimes.”

“Well I don’t think you’re depressed.”

I get it, you’re trying to make them feel better. We all get it. But here’s the thing – don’t ever tell someone that is confiding in you that you don’t think they’re depressed. Ever. Because you haven’t got a damn clue what they are really feeling. They are giving you a peek into their world, not opening the doors and windows for you to see all the turmoil that’s inside.

Telling someone that they aren’t depressed makes them feel ashamed, embarrassed, insane.

It makes the problem a thousand times worse.

It makes them feel invalidated.

If you are struggling with depression, or maybe you are wondering if you are depressed, or just feel like there is something *wrong* with you…please reach out for help. I know it is hard and can be embarrassing, but it is so worth it to start your journey to becoming whole and healthy.

I don’t have insurance and I used that as an excuse for years to avoid really dealing with what was going on. Now I am 10 months into treatment with a resident therapist at a local non-profit counseling organization for $20 a week because of my family size and income level. If money is a factor, please don’t let that stop you from getting help. 

Seek out the mental health organization for your city/county, visit SAHMSA or call them at 1-800-662-4357, search for terms like “low cost therapy,” “low cost counseling,” “sliding scale counseling services,” along with the name of your city. And while I sincerely hope you are not feeling so lost and hurting so badly that suicide is on your mind, if you ever consider harming yourself or others around you, I beg you to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.

You are not broken, you have value and worth and you deserve to be happy, healthy, and whole.

Tiffany Wong on twitter