The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. My kids are running and laughing in the background. And here I am trapped in a bubble where my heart is unable to enjoy any of it. My kids are clean and feed. My dishwasher is running. I even did a load of laundry. I function. Barley. But I function. I am the queen of faking it, just ask my husband. (I am just kidding about the last part. Love you Dear.) I can pretend to be ok with the best. Smile with tears begging to come out. Laughing as my heart aches. Holding my burden deep inside. It is not like I can just fall apart. Who will care for my kids? They didn’t deserve any of this. So I soldier on.
Depression affects everyone in a different manner and that is what the public doesn’t seem to grasp. Amongst the myriad of coping skills offered to a person struggling there is distinct possibility none of them will work. I grow weary of the concept that people with depression aren’t trying. There is a bravery in waking up each morning and choosing to live despite what your mind is telling you. And by live, I mean the small things like take a shower, leave the house, feed your pet, etc. Not all people with depression are suicidal. However, ALL people with depression should receive validation for their feelings.
We need to stop striking those down for being honest. We need to embrace them. Offer them our hands in comfort. Validate that their feelings are real and we are there for them. Not everyone is looking for what to do. Many of us know how to navigate the storm. We just sometimes need a light to remind us that it will pass. We need to know that we are not alone. We need to know that is ok not to pretend to be ok.
Most of all, we need to treat this seriously. Depression is just feeling a little down or having a bad day. Depression is a real clinical diagnosis. It should be treated as such. Someone’s battle with depression or any other mental illness should be treated with dignity, respect, and seriousness. If you know someone who is battling a mental illness, check on them. Encourage them to seek help. Be there for them. Talk about it to your friends and family. Stand up to them when others may put them down. Be a friend. Be an advocate.