A client struggling with the deep darkness of depression sat sobbing in front of me. “Sometimes when I am by myself I wish I had cancer.” It took a lot of courage to say those words out loud and let alone to someone else. She went on to explain that if she had an illness she would have justification for not wanting to get out of bed. This is the reason she cries herself to sleep most nights and if she had a terminal illness she would not have to deal with the shame of depression. She would wake up most mornings and feel guilty because she could not “get it together”. She felt shame for telling friends she was having a bad day without having a reason “why”. If only she had a “reason” then she wouldn’t have to feel badly for feeling badly.
Depression is by far one of the scariest, loneliest, and most painful issues we can deal with. My client is not alone. Without a tangible identifying “reason” to feel bad most people tend to feel guilty that they are struggling. It is easy to point to all of the blessings and good things in life and wonder “what do I have to feel bad about.” Generally depression can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes we can easily identify what is causing our depression such as a traumatic event, a loss, change, loneliness, etc, but other times it may not be so easy to find. Whatever the cause for you or your loved one’s depression there are two important things to remember:
1. Its real. You are not making this up. You are not depressed because you are too weak, or you simply cannot suck it up. Depression is real. It is not your fault you’re struggling with depression, it is a valid mental health concern that can afflict anyone. In fact Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
2. You don’t have to live in the darkness. More than 80% of people struggling with depression do not seek treatment, are you one of them? There is no shame in seeking help, talking with someone who can understand where you are and how to navigate out of it is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. There is hope for your future. Living in the monotony and darkness of depression does not have to rule or end your life. You can live fully and joyfully again!