"They tell us from the time we’re young,
To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves,
I know I’m not the only one
Who spent so long attempting to be someone else
Well, I’m over it”
-Secrets by Mary Lambert
The Myth of About Being Happy
Okay, so nobody actually tells us, “Hey! Don’t talk about that shit…” But…we do get a lot of looks when we start talking about our depression though. And you know why? I’ll let you in on a little secret…
People who don’t have mental illness, don’t understand it.
And you know what? They shouldn’t be expected to. It’s not their fault they don’t understand what’s going on. This expectation makes us angry because it’s SO simple of a concept for us to understand because we’re the ones in therapy twice a week. We’re the ones who spent a week in a psych ward learning coping mechanisms. We’re the ones who seek out articles online to relate to and learn more about our brain chemistry. Our family, our friends, our coworkers…they don’t do these things because they aren’t depressed. They only know what society has told them.
Everyone is Happy and I’m Not
It’s really fucking hard to sit in a group of people who are just…naturally happy. Your friends, co-workers, strangers, it’s exhausting playing along with the charade. Because let’s face it, when you’re depressed your happy moments are rare. And being depressed is something nobody really wants to address because it’s just associated with being sad. And when a normal person becomes sad they do things to feel better and it works. So they tell us, just do something fun! Go out. You’ll feel better if you do these things, but we all know that going to the club with our friends won’t correct our brain chemistry. So we hide it, we become tired of the attempted advice from friends and “cheer up”.
What Mentally Healthy People See
You’re irritable for no apparent reason. You ditch out on plans. You’re always sad. You don’t want to go out often. You’re eating too much or too little. You’re overweight or dangerously skinny. Depression is just a sad mood (because nobody wants to think about it’s worst side effect; suicide).
Crazy is a word that comes to mind when we think of mental illness. And that’s a word we hate to hear. But, it stems from our only revealed vision of what mentally ill people look like and that’s the asylums in the 1800’s. American Horror Story Asylum. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. No wonder we are so misunderstood.
What We See
My brain chemistry is off balance, so my serotonin levels are lower in my brain than others. If I go out, there is a chance that I could have a panic attack. My appetite is low because my stress levels are high. I eat so much comfort food, not only because it tastes good but also because it’s proven to increase my serotonin levels so it feels good too.
What We Can Do
So you’ve taken the leap to get help, you’re in progress, and your finding out slowly that not everyone wants to talk about it. Family doesn’t understand, and friends are quiet when you talk about your experience in therapy. Here’s what you can do to help.
1. Ask your friends to read up on depression.
Give them one of the links at the bottom of this blog.
2. Explain it to them yourself.
If you can expend the energy, teaching your friends and family about depression can help both of you. It will help reinforce that this isn’t who you are, this is just the symptoms (manageable symptoms) of your depression. The more you teach others, the easier it is to say, “This isn’t who I am, I am not my depression.” It will help them realize depression is not a switch you can turn off or on.
3. Bring your friend or family to a therapy session.
Bringing your friend or family member to a therapy session will validate your feelings. With a therapist, a credible professional, there to explain to them as the session goes on, you’re able to help your friend or family member understand that this is a serious medical illness that takes extensive treatment just like any other major illness. Again, it’s all about that validation.
Once you’ve educated those around you, you can be yourself! You don’t have to keep things a secret. You can be over it like Mary Lambert. You don’t have to feel shame for how your depression has effected you. People will understand when you don’t want to leave the house, but still encourage you. They can help you monitor your diet, they can even help bring your back to reality when you have panic attacks or crying spells.
As always, you can inbox me for any questions or advice! Here are some links to help educate your network of support.
"They tell us from the time we’re young,
I have depression. I have severe anxiety. I take medication. I’ve not lived in the same home for more than a year, in five years. My parent are divorced. All four are alcoholics. I paid the bills for years with my business. I buy everything I own. Lived on my own since I was sixteen. In therapy to uncover a possible repressed memory of molestation. My muscles are so tight from anxiety that my tailbone is crooked from my gluteal muscles pulling on it. To correct that I go through three hours of massage THERAPY not relaxation, each week. I work sixty five hours a week. I used to work three jobs and go to college full time to avoid losing my childhood home to the bank. I just left my Mother to help myself move on after she didn’t pay any bills with the money I gave her. My Father hasn’t told me he loves me or hugged me first since for as long as I can remember. He reacted to my possible abuse more concerned I’m wrongfully accusing someone. I can’t have physical relations with anyone…male or female…without my cervix erupting with fire like sensations from unexplained mental/physical trauma. I forget things constantly as a result of my repression issues from the trauma, which ironically reminds me of it every time I do forget something as simple as keys.
And still, I fucking live on.
So when someone complains about working part time, going to college full time, having to buy their own clothes…I know their struggle is all they know…but I just WISH they knew how much worse it could be so they could appreciate their own more. I’ve been through HELL. All my life. And nobody would be able to tell that about me by looking at a profile, or shooting with me, or even being my friend most times. People don’t see muscle pain, the inability to have sex, depression, fear, or past abuse. They just see someone yelling at them to brighten up. And I wish I could just tell them IT GETS WORSE, BE HAPPY THATS IT!
There isn’t enough time to waste on negative energy. To explain to people my shit storm of a life. Because I’ve worked hard NOT to dwell. NOT to become it. Most people would be in a hospital, I’m running a business and finally starting therapy…
To sum it all up. Get your shit together guys. If I can do it, YOU CAN! You really can. I promise and I will help you get through things. I promise. Things, as cliche as it is, can always be worse.
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