Who can I talk to about depression? I’ve asked this. Maybe you’re asking this. Let’s talk about depression. Sound okay? No? No one starts a conversation like that, but maybe we should. Maybe the stigma only remains because we choose to keep it hush-hush. Today, let’s choose to talk about depression even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Ready? I’ll start.
One day at work, I felt a wave of emotion come over me. I did the awkward walk-run to the closest bathroom—you know, the kind where your co-workers smirk and whisper, “I knew she couldn’t leap from no-stars to a three-star spicy on her Pad Thai.”
As the lock clicked on the stall, I wept. Not like a few tears-silently-streaming kind of cry. I mean like the ugly cry where tears and snot form a stew all over your face. I was freaking out: “What’s going on? I don’t get what’s happening! What if someone walks in here?” And I was completely numb at the same time.
Maybe I’m a little off-center, but there’s a line, you know? Losing it at work just couldn’t happen. Really, losing it at all was frightening. As I regained control, I walked back to my desk and asked a friend for the name of a counselor. The bathroom freakout was the catalyst for me to realize something was wrong.
It’s almost impossible to explain what depression’s like to someone who’s never experienced it. I think that’s fair to say, because I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through cancer. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I empathized and grieved with her, but I didn’t experience it myself. It wasn’t my body that was up for discussion. Does that make sense?
To help give insight, here’s a description I wrote from the pit of depression.
Depression’s like being trapped in a snow globe. I swim at first, wanting to get out and fight. I hear people tapping on the outside of the glass trying to free me. But, eventually the cold and numbness take over. The taps faint as I drift toward the bottom, cold and empty. I can’t lift my feet to trudge through the snow and water. Who can I talk to about depression? No one. I’ll stay alone.
There were a few common themes I lived with and believed during that time.
- People matter, but I eventually go it alone.
- Interest fades.
- Hope and belief are absent.
If you knew me, your jaw would probably be on the floor about now. My defining characteristics as a person are: caring for others, fighting for what matters, and belief that God’s made each of us unique and awesome. Do you see how hurtful depression is to the person suffering from it? It is suffering, because you don’t recognize yourself anymore, you don’t love the things you used to love, and you don’t understand why.
Okay. Whew! Deep breath. Why all the heaviness? Because it’s okay to share when you’re not okay. Let’s talk about depression and take the stigma away. I’m not ashamed depression is part of my story. I’d be ashamed if I didn’t share what God has taught me through it. Who can I talk to about depression? Anyone who needs or wants to hear. In part 2 of this post I’ll write about my experience telling others about my depression—the good and the bad.
“When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, with your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.” Psalm 138:7-8
*Depression looks different for everyone. This is my story and should not be used in place of a clinical diagnosis.