Try a new hobby.
Depression is like a life lived uphill pushing a boulder. In the beginning, it’s possible, even easy, but when days and days have passed, your exhaustion is complete. Your inability to push that boulder another centimetre has nothing to do with how entertaining your life is. It has to do with the fact that your body. Just. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore. I feel as though I’m the hostage of a nearly-dead body.
Depression is not a choice. It’s a chemical imbalance and a physiological abnormality. It isn’t a sign that I am weaker than you. I might even be stronger because I’m alive. I have not given up. I have not listened to the voice in my head telling me to just quit existing because this life has become intolerable. If you were where I am, you’d feel as I do.
You’re just not sleeping enough.
Ever tried falling asleep on a rollercoaster? That’s what trying to fall asleep with depression feels like, but there’s something else you’ve gotten wrong: insomnia is a symptom of depression. Depression is not a symptom of insomnia, and right now, I want one night’s rest as much as an addict wants a shot of heroin in the middle of a detox. If I could get it, I would.
Try this remedy.
Depression is a potentially fatal disease. It’s as important for me to rely on a real doctor as it is for a cancer patient. You wouldn’t try to treat your mother’s diabetes, so please don’t try to treat my condition. It’s no less serious.
Happiness is a choice.
Since I started fighting this battle, I’ve chosen to be happy a million times. Every time I drag myself kicking and screaming to a cheerful moment, my depression knocks me out and hauls me back to a place where death seems like an attractive option. Depression is not a mood. It’s a disease.
Spend more time with your friends.
The only thing lonelier than being depressed and alone is being depressed and in the same room as happy people. My friends remind me of what life was like when sleep was just a day away, days were adventures, and I felt connected. They remind me, without saying a word, of how different I’ve become from them and my former self. They remind me that there are very few people left in the world who understand the place I find myself in today because they’ve never been here.
You’re just tired.
This kind of exhaustion is not ‘just tired’. It’s not ‘just’ anything. I didn’t know what exhaustion felt like until depression found me. It’s so far beyond tired that I can feel my bones screaming.
Be grateful that you have food on your table and a roof over your head.
There are moments when I’m aware of how far away from realistic my perceptions are, but realisations are not enough to change my depression because…? It’s a disease, not a mood. Yes. Now you’re getting the picture. Depression is like wearing the wrong pair of glasses. It blurs the way I see the world and turns everything hostile.
Trying to arm wrestle your way out of a chemical imbalance is as useful as trying to use willpower instead of tools to fix a bicycle.
I don’t understand you.
Nor do I. I wish I did.
It’s all in your head
Depression’s causes are rooted in the brain, so in a way, you’re right. But depression’s causes are as physiological as those of epilepsy, so when you say it’s all in my head, you’re as right as you would be if you were saying epilepsy is all in my head. What you mean, though, is that I’m making this shit up, and I can make it up as easily as you can make up that paper cut on your finger.
The right way
For me, there were no right words when I was depressed. Words mean very little when you’re living under water trying not to suffocate, which is how it feels. I needed actions, not words. I needed people to be present and treat me with compassion. I needed them to help me to my doctors’ visits, cook me a decent meal or two, and other practical things. I needed friends to sit with me during my worst times and help me with basic daily chores. I needed them to make me feel loved and precious because with depression comes self-hatred.
Even so, being depressed meant not being able to ask for help, so it was the friends who offered specific things who helped me most. Those who said, “Call me when you need me” never heard back from me.