Depression is a word that seems to just be thrown out there with no regard to the actual meaning of the term. Someone loses a family member and goes into a season of gloom. A girl goes through a rough break-up and will cry for weeks. A man loses his business and believes his world is now over. Though these situations are gruesome and deserve sympathy, this is not depression, at least not the clinical depression that calls for medical treatment.
Depression is an inward biting pain, piercing right through the heart of an individual, leaving a void of emptiness. Many suffering with this mental illness will wake up in the morning and immediately want to go back to sleep because the life they are living is too abysmal for words. Many will see a depressed person, look at his circumstances, and wonder why he or she is so bogged down with depression. This person may be highly successful in the workplace. This person may have a loving spouse who is faithful. This person may have children who thrive in school. Everything on the outside looks fine, but the inside is a different story. Like a tree infested with termites or a pot on the verge of boiling over, the same is with depression. With so much despair crammed within an individual, it is only a matter of time until he or she does something terribly drastic.
With all that being said, depression is treatable. There are antidepressants and methods many use, such as exposure to sunlight and exercising, to help cope with this rotting pain. However, the goal of this article is to give encouraging words to individuals in the pit of depression, so deep down they can no longer see the light.
- It’s Not Your Fault. So many times I have heard accusations aimed towards depressed people. They blurt out phrases such as, “Just get over yourself” or “You need to just make yourself happy.” Those who accuse in such a reproachful manner usually do not understand the pain within depressed people. If you are currently struggling with depression, know that there is nothing you did to cause it and healing is not something you can do with a quick fix. Just as one with cancer cannot miraculously heal with the snap of a finger, the process of healing is a slow, sometimes agonizing, process.
- Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness. Independence is promoted everyday. You should do it on your own. Figure it out yourself. These phrases are always thrown out there and those in depressive states hear these words, believing that seeking help is an act leading to a complete downfall. Nothing could be further from the truth. Surrendering your self-righteous independence is a crucial step in the right direction.
- There Are Many Out There Willing to Help. Counselors, psychiatrists, and life coaches are here for a reason. They desire to see their patients get back on their feet with a fresh start. Not only professionals but friends as well are vital. Not friends who will try to sweep everything under the rug by giving useless advice but genuine friends who might not even say a word; friends who will listen. As the poet John Donne once wrote, ‘No man is an island.’ Community is such a key part of healing. I would encourage and even plead with someone struggling with depression not to live in isolation. That only makes matters worse.
- Crying is Okay. This reinforcement is mainly targeted towards grown men, although it is not limited to them. Just like seeking help, crying is okay. In fact, it is healthy. Many believe if they bury their emotions deep inside their hearts it will fade away over time. If you are carrying this belief with you, time is not on your side. There is no point in keeping your emotions stored up, living a lie that time will heal. It is like a man with a stomach bug refusing to vomit because he believes it will heal over time. Once he finally gives in and relieves himself of the garbage within him, there is a sense of liberation from what was causing him to be ill. It is the same with your emotions. Shed some tears. Lament. With it comes a trifle sense of freedom. It will actually feel rewarding because it is a mere reminder that you are human.
- You Are Not Alone. For those who wake in the morning and lay there until one in the afternoon and finally get out of bed, believing to be a loser, I have news for you: you are not the only who feels this way. This is probably the biggest lie most depressed people believe and what drives so many into isolation. The paradox with depressed people who isolate themselves is that they want to be alone, mainly due to feeling shame for their mental state, yet do not want to feel lonely. By not giving into the lie that you are the only one going through this rough patch, you will feel more free to embrace others, seek help, and let your emotions run loose to trustworthy peers. In fact, some of the people you look up to the most might have dealt with some of the same issues at some point in their lives. Communing with those who have overcome, understanding the pain and showing much empathy, can ignite such hope within you.
Written by: Jeremy Ball