I have started to write this blog post many times over the last few months, but I was always too afraid to complete it and press publish. I know this may be surprising for many of you, but even though Summer and I write a blog, I am still a very private person. Honestly, the blog began as as a creative outlet where I could quench my desires to write and share some of the things I luv. Writing is theraputic for me. The creative process is necessary for my sanity and overall well –being. The blog is an online scapbook that documentes our lives. A way to record our interests, experiences, and passions, so that we can look back and reminisce. It continues to be a channel that allows us to experiment, process, and reflect. That being said, in an effort to be authentic and transparent, I must admit that as of late, I have not felt much like writing or documenting life. Honestly, for about six months, I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed each morning. Without going into too many details (remember I like to keep my private life private), lets just say daily life was a real struggle. I suffered from situational depression. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I was in the depths of a deep, dark hole. Situational depression is a short-term form of depression that occurs in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in normal life.
I finally found the courage to write this post and press publish because I realized while I was on this transformational journey, that depression is so very misunderstood. I believe that the stigma surrounding depression arises from living in a world where exposing vulnerabilities and weaknesses is a sign of failure. Unlike a broken arm where one can physically see the actual injury, a broken heart is an emotional fracture that isn’t always visible to the naked eye. To make matters worse, most suffering from depression work diligently to hide this invisible wound for fear of judgment. It remains a dirty little secret. Shame and guilt abide when flaws are exposed. I hope this post helps create a better understanding for those that believe depression is a character defect and makes those suffering from this affliction feel validated.
Here are ten things someone with depression might want you to know and understand based on my personal experience.
- Relationships are hard for us. The heart yearns for them, but the brain and body can’t deal with the stimulation.
- We try to hide our depression, so others don’t feel uncomfortable.
- We won’t reach out when we are struggling because we don’t want to upset you or be a burden. We don’t like people worrying about us, even though people probably should.
- Sometimes conversations are exhausting. Being around people is exhausting. We are masters at diverting conversations to surface topics to avoid deep questioning. Instead, we ask YOU lots of questions to avoid painful conversations. So when we pull away, we are just trying to regroup because we are overwhelmed.
- Smiles don’t always mean everything is OK. We are good at hiding our true feelings.
- Depression is a disease of isolation – be patient and don’t take it personally if we decline social invitations.
- Depression is a selfish illness. We are consumed with feelings of guilt and the fear of letting people down.
- Depression isn’t a choice. It is out of our control.
- We appreciate your kind words. It may not seem like it, but we do.
- We really do want to get better. It s a war – a painful, exhausting, consuming war that we are trying to win. We can’t just snap out of it. It feels like we are drowning. No matter how hard we try to fight back, it is overpowering.
I know this was not our typical feel-good kind of post, but I do hope it brings about awareness and explains why we hit the pause button on the blog and and on life. Many that know me personally are under the misconception that I lead a fairy-tale life. I think social media has a way of portraying people in such a light, but I believe that there is nothing wrong with admitting struggle. After all, it is our inner conflicts that call forth the qualities of courage, patience, determination, and perseverance. These are not the qualities of a defective person, they are the qualities of heroes and leaders. Qualities we should all strive to attain.
Hopefully, I will be back to writing more light-hearted posts soon, I feel writing this post was a necessary step in the right direction. If you know someone suffering from depression, loving them unconditionally is the greatest gift you could bestow upon them. I have been so fortunate to have loving and supportive friends and family members to walk beside me in the valley. I will forever be grateful for their compassion, empathy, and understanding. For the first time in my life, I am learning the importance of self-care. I am discovering there is something liberating about practicing self-compassion. It is allowing me to acknowledge and appreciate my perfectly imperfect life.