DEPRESSION sucks, man. I mean, c’mon, there’s no other way to say it.
To those who suffer depression, the primary message of today’s blog is simply for me to say: I get it. I understand what you’re going through.
I just turned 55 last week, and have suffered depression (and chronic pain) since I was a teenager. It’s a little overwhelming and even frightening to realize this has been a 40-year struggle for me. Crazy. It got so bad I even attempted suicide in my early 20s (around the same age my son is now, although thankfully, he doesn’t struggle with this). God saw fit to spare me, though.
I can’t really put into words how happy I am He did, honestly. I would’ve missed out on SO much life! So much joy.
Most of us who share this struggle will admit it’s hard to tell people sometimes. There are several possible reasons for this:
- We believe we’re alone in this fight. Oh we know there are many people who have depression, but some of us aren’t aware of anyone else around us who does. Thus, we have no clue how our friends and family will react if we tell them.
- We’re afraid others will see depression as some kind of weakness on our part. I get this, but believe me, it is not about weakness at all. Just because your dad or Uncle Fester or WHOEVER says depression is for wimps, doesn’t make it true. Quite the opposite, in fact. Takes a lot of guts to keep fighting when all you wanna do is give up.
- We don’t know how others will react. Will they freak out? Laugh? Look down on us? All one needs to do is hear a negative comment ONCE and it’s nearly impossible for us to open up again. One person says, “What do you have to be depressed about?” and we clam up and shut down.
- We don’t know HOW to tell people. You can’t just blurt this out anywhere, you know? It’s not something you can tell family or a group of friends when you’re hanging out at the beach or on a road trip. Additionally, sometimes we don’t know exactly what we feel, and many times we SURE don’t know why we feel it. Responding “I don’t know” to the question, “Why are you depressed?” just makes us feel stupid, to put it bluntly.
- We don’t think it’ll help. We’re afraid we’ll just get fake sympathy, or perhaps you won’t know what to say. Maybe it’ll ruin our friendship because things will get weird after we tell you, so why bother?
- We don’t feel it’s THAT big of a problem. I mean, there a billion people on this planet with more problematic dilemmas than us. Thus, we keep it to ourselves.
- We don’t want to be a burden. This sort of goes along with the previous point. “In the grand scheme of things,” we tell ourselves, “my problems are so insignificant. One person is struggling with cancer, another is getting a divorce, while someone else is battling addiction, spousal abuse or who knows what.” We’re not about to stand up in the middle of so much chaos and woe and say, “I’m depressed.” Who cares?
- We feel like we’re a failure. After all, we know successful people who never struggled with this. We wonder why we’re so weak; why do we have such a harder time simply living than everyone else around us?
- We’re so tired of fighting. Honestly, we’re just freaking tired. To drudge up all the darkness in our soul is freaking exhausting. No joke.
- We HONESTLY don’t think it’ll help. We might get someone to pray for us, or perhaps another will mumble, “That’s too bad,” and that’s the end of it. I’d rather not tell someone, then to unburden my soul to someone who really doesn’t give a rip. I’ll just keep it to myself, thank you very much.
Thing is, our very survival depends upon how we handle our depression. So here are my suggestions:
- Think about what makes you happy, and do that. Or, we could say, “Think about what makes YOU happy.” What’s the difference, you ask? Well, I don’t really care what works for someone else, if it doesn’t work for me. Maybe you like to play out in the yard with your dogs. GREAT! My wife is allergic to dogs so that doesn’t help me. Think really hard about what makes YOU happy, and as long as it’s not detrimental to your health, DO THAT. Movies, music, books, art, whatever.
- Find at least one person to tell. I found this online from WebMD: “Xavier Amador, PhD, an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, says confiding in one trusted person is a key part of treatment. (He says) ‘A lot of suffering is prolonged by not telling someone.’” My wife is so caring, so gentle, and always there for me. She usually admits she doesn’t have the first clue how to help me when I get depressed, but her love and support mean everything. Regarding telling someone about our depression, according to Everyday Health, “Communication becomes problematic because the person is embarrassed to say how they feel, anticipating judgment.”
- Fight. Fight, fight, fight! Fight the darkness with everything you are, with everything you have. Never give up, never give in, never surrender!
- Look up Bible verses on depression. I’ve said this before, but a few years ago I done a Google search for “Bible verses about depression.” I found my ten favorite ones, printed them out, self-laminated the page (I just put it in a plastic folder) and will read it when I struggle. Now, I’d love to say my depression magically disappears when I start reading the Bible, but much to the chagrin of some, this isn’t the case for me. It does help, but, and this is not to sound unspiritual, sometimes it helps me more to see a fun movie, go driving, or listen to music.
- Try to surround yourself with people who will lift you up. I saved this for last, so that I could post pictures of my amazing family. I’ve been having a hard time lately, and can always count on them for support. The “fam” includes my 33-year-old daughter Jessica, her husband Josh and their two kids, Joshua Jr and Jenna, and then my 23-year-old son Trey and his wife Maria. Then the matriarch of the family, and the most precious person to me on earth: my lovely-inside-and-out wife, Laura. As an example of the joy we have as a family, here are a few pics from our visit last night (we all hang out two or three times a week). Also, my apologies if the pictures look off-center or weird. WordPress (the website I use for this blog) is NOT working with me on making these images look nice:
Remember, I understand how you feel, you’re not alone. Never give up. You can make it! I promise.
Blessings. Thanks for reading. OH, and in case you ever wonder what your humble author and his lovely look like: