You are reading this because you are an important person in my life and I want you to understand more about who I am and what I do. I know that I can be difficult and sometimes I am sorry for that. I know that I probably don’t need to be sorry, but I am. In fact, I feel guilty for feeling sorry in the first place. Ridiculous, I know.
That’s how my brain works because I have depression…and yes, my mind is an exhausting place. I want to give you this letter to help you understand a little more about what I go through, ask for some grace as I work some of my messes out, and to suggest a few ways that you can best support people like me, if you are willing.
The first thing that I want you to know is that I am trying. Or rather, I am trying to try. You see, 1 and 1 don’t always add up to 2 for me. There are legitimate biological differences between me and someone who doesn’t live with depression, which makes this a really difficult uphill battle. I am literally fighting against my biology which tries to tell me that none of this is worth it and that I shouldn’t even try. When people say things like “Just think positively,” or “It’s all in your head” it does not help at all. I know that is in my head, but unfortunately it is not as easy as flipping a switch and suddenly feeling better. There are circumstances that trigger my emotions and I am actively trying to work through what those are and prevent them from being a part of my life as much as can be. I know that I have 1000’s of reasons to be happy and sometimes I feel like the worst person ever for feeling down despite them.
Fighting off depression is not a simple task. If it was, I would have done it already. I’m a fighter. I actively try to take steps to better myself and steal some some of my life back from this depressive monster that has crept in like a black cloud raining all over my thoughts and feelings.
The process will involve challenging my negative thought patterns, pushing myself to re-engage with things that I enjoy, working to forgive myself for letting things get so out of hand, and finding people that I trust to be on my team. That is why you are reading this. I want you to be on my team.
I know that I am not been the easiest person to be around sometimes . Maybe my actions or inactions have even hurt you in some way. The thing is, I need support to dig myself out of these patterns. I don’t need a yes or no from you, but I want to share with you a few things that do and do not help in case you are ever willing to lend a hand to me or ANYONE dealing with this horrible disease.
For now, this has to be on my terms. I am feeling more broken and fragile than I would like to admit. Down the line, I might need a bit of a push, but for now tough love is not what I need. That means unsolicited advice that worked for you or someone else is probably not helpful. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach to depression. It is a very individualized sort of beast.
Also, being told that what I am going through is not that bad is very hurtful for me. I know that it might not be logical for me to feel this way given life’s circumstances. I know it could be worse and there are many others in the world who have it worse. That’s just how depression works. Intellectually knowing something and actively sharing positivity with other people, of which I do, are two very different experiences. I’m working to make that more in sync.
Though my instinct tells me otherwise, I do try to surround myself with positive people. Please have a little grace and forgiveness with me if I get irritated or act in off-putting ways. Some days, I just want to be left alone, and need to be left alone. Other days, I need you. I DO want you to be here and I really appreciate you continuing to try. I feel like a lot of people have given up on me. I don’t want you to be one of them. Probably the most helpful thing you can do for me is to let me know that you are here. Sometimes, I forget that and feel alone alot. I won’t always know the best ways you can help me and you don’t have to either. I mostly need to know that I am not on the journey alone.
Like I said, a big part of navigating through depression is finding ways to fight back against unhealthy patterns of thinking that we have all fallen into. Sometimes it can be really helpful to have someone that we can rely on as a “logical barometer.” Basically, I tell you what my train of thought is regarding a situation and you can tell me whether it makes sense or not. You share how you as a non-depressed person, might interpret it.
That helps me practice reeling in the overgeneralizing, personalizing, and overall amplification of negative thoughts. My thoughts usually start out rooted in reality, but they get blown out of proportion and you can definitely help me by non-judgmentally letting me know how far off my thinking has gone. You don’t have to be “right” to help me out with this. There really are no right or wrong answers, but I will be much better off if I have a few people that I can get input from when I am doubting my initial interpretation of things.
I am trying to do more. This might mean that I am trying to get back to doing things that I enjoy because sometimes things can feel bland. In doing so, I am trying to attach meaning and passion to a decision instead of just going through the motions. If you invite me somewhere, I won’t always say “yes”. Even if it is something as simple as a dinner or the movies, sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is literally crushing me and I will pass on almost every invitation. Please keep inviting me. Don’t need to waste your time trying to convince me, just don’t give up on me. Keep offering.
Finally, I would be so grateful if you would help other people understand what I am going through, along with so many other people. Hopefully at this point, you “get it” a little more. Depression is something that we are told to keep a secret and so sometimes it is hard to share these negative feelings. I want this letter to help you understand where your friends and family may be at some point in time.
If you are still reading this, that means that I was right about you. You are amazing and a perfect addition to my depression fighting team. Like I said before, I really am trying. This is a tough battle and I don’t know how long it will take, but having allies like you will certainly make the process that much easier. I am not asking for a blank slate. I know that I can sometimes say or do things that make me not so pleasant to be around. That’s the nature of the beast. You are allowed to be upset, angry, hurt, or annoyed at those things. I’ll just ask that you try to understand that these things are an expression of my depressive symptoms.
They may be a part of me but they are not the whole me.
I hope this letter helps you understand a little more about the other part of me that is dying for a chance to get out into the world. When I make it to the other side, it is my passion to hold someone else’s hand as they battle the same things I have and will always continue to.
Sincerely and Much Love,