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An Open Letter To Those Who Don't Understand

It’s okay. How can we expect you to understand something that we do not fully understand ourselves?

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It’s okay. How can we expect you to understand something that we do not fully understand ourselves? And when I say we, I mean those of us who suffer from depression.

Depression is a mental illness. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I think that is the hardest part for me, admitting that I have a “mental illness”. It just sounds so extreme… so dramatic... so permanent. It makes me feel different than everyone else. When in reality, more than 300 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression. It can be temporary, caused by a negative experience in ones life, or it can be a reoccurring feeling that’s cause is unknown. Some forms of depression can be so extreme that they lead to suicidal thoughts and actions or unhealthy addictions. No two people who suffer from depression are the same.

It is very hard to explain to someone who doesn’t experience depression, what it is like to live with it. It is hard to explain why it is you feel the way that you do, when you do. It is hard to explain that you have very little control over the way you feel or when that feeling comes. One minute you can feel on top of the world and the next you can feel as if the world is crashing down around you. You never know how you’re going to feel or when you're going to feel it.

Depression is extremely frustrating. Especially when you have absolutely no reason to be depressed. That doesn’t stop it. The most common phrase I hear when someone learns that I suffer from depression is “I would have never thought that, you are always so happy”. Yes, I am a happy person. I have a successful career, I have a family who loves and supports me unconditionally, I have good health, and I have friends that I can go to for anything. But that doesn’t stop it. I still get the waves of sadness. Whether they last for a few moments, a day, or a week…. they still come.

Depression affects your day-to-day life. It makes you question every feeling you have and every action you take. You constantly ask yourself, should I really be feeling the way I do? Am I overreacting? Am I being dramatic? Or is it the depression? It is a constant battle with yourself and it sucks. Depression can affect your motivation, whether it is at work, at home or even getting out of bed in the morning. It can affect relationships, whether it be with a significant other, friend or family member.

Depression is not something that we should be frowned upon for or ashamed of. It is simply who we are. It is our personality and it is our passion. Truthfully, depression has molded me into the person I am today and I am proud to be that person. When I do things, I do them with all of my heart. That may result in heartbreak or disappointment, but it is real... it is raw... it is honest, and I would rather feel that than nothing at all.

Those of us who suffer from depression know that it is hard to accept the fact that you will never fully understand us. We know that it is hard to be there for someone no matter what they are feeling, no matter how hard they try to push you away. We understand that it is difficult to be there for someone when you have absolutely no idea why that person feels the way that they do. But that is all that we ask for. We don’t ask that you try and understand; we don’t ask for your sympathy, we ask that you accept us and support us, no matter what.

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