How many times in my life I have heard people say “but you’re always smiling” or “you’re just using it as an excuse to get out of doing something” or “everybody gets sad, so you need to get over it.”. Why would I want to live a life purposefully where I feel like crap for weeks on end? Yes, I do get sad like a normal person. It’s normal to be sad going through a break up, failing an exam, or losing someone you love. What is NOT normal is feeling sad and empty for weeks on end and not having the energy or motivation to get on with living.
I’ve always been motivated, hardworking, and ambitious. Losing these qualities when I hit my bouts of depression makes me even more depressed, like i’m not good enough. It’s hard enough to be criticized by other people, but I think the toughest critic is myself. I don’t pick and choose what I want to do or don’t want to do and I am by no means lazy. It’s actually upsetting to hear someone I love tell me “you don’t have any priorities to worry about”, implying I get to be sad all day and have nothing to worry about. I hate that feeling of being judged as weak, I am not weak and I work my ass off when I need to get things done. I’m also not afraid to speak out when I feel like I can’t handle something, a task not many people are able to admit. I have priorities, I have a dissertation to complete and a Master’s to obtain. I worked my butt off for a whole year pulling off great marks and yeah I did have a set back, but the best thing someone can say is “How can I help?”. I don’t need an opinion or judgement and I know other people struggling with mental illness would feel the same way. I don’t need to be told that I am “pathetically weak”, when I know I am more than capable of making a path of my own in this world. I’ve built great track records with being employed, within my community, and in academics.
I’m not afraid to admit I have issues or openly support a stranger with warmth and kindness. What we need is compassion and support, the same qualities you need when you’re feeling down or stressed.
I would say most people will have bouts of depression, some people can get over it on their own very quickly, while others like me when we hit the ground hard, need that support from others or medication or other forms of therapy. Life isn’t easy and it’s scary to think how much more competition there is to make a sustainable living. Depression isn’t something people should be ashamed of, and I shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable talking about it. Just like people who get migraines or sore limbs can talk about how they are feeling, I should be able to do the same.
I think what is important to take out of things is not only being able to practice self-love, but also to learn to be an empathetic human being. We all go through struggles, but yet many are so quick to judge other people’s situation and offer their own criticisms. It’s time we change this mentality and take time to understand what people are going through. You don’t need to know someone’s story, but you can be kind and understanding towards other people. At the end of the day we are all different, we all have our own struggles, and the least we can do is offer our respect and support for the battles people are facing. Just because you can’t see whats beneath the surface, doesn’t mean it’s not real or happening.
Below is a picture of Depression Bingo. The most common things people who suffer from depression hear from those around them.
Can you relate to the image?