What Depression Is Not

What Depression Is Not

Because you would never say "it's just cancer, get over it."

I am young, only 19 in fact, and I have already witnessed the detrimental effects of one disease way too many times. I have seen people my own age become consumed with this disease, and take their lives because of it. I have seen wonderful, amazing people in my life affected by this disease- teenagers, parents, grandparents. The list is endless. I am tired of hearing people say, "But she was so pretty!" or "Awh he was so young and smart," even "Wow, he had 3 beautiful children!" after someone commits suicide. None of that matters. We, as a society, do not truly understand depression. I do not expect people without depression to understand how it feels, but I do expect them to understand the severity of it. It seems as if educating people about what depression is has not been effective enough for society to take it seriously, so let me tell you all of the things that depression is not.

Depression is not discriminatory.

Depression does not care how smart, pretty, talented, or kind you are. It will attack and consume anyone it can; no one is too attractive, intelligent, athletic, creative, or kind-hearted for it's wrath. Depression does not care if you are 20 years old or 67 years old, it will overtake your thoughts. Depression is not discriminatory; depression affects anyone and everyone it can.

Depression is not obvious.

You probably won't be able to tell that someone you know or love has depression, unless they choose to tell you. Even though a person with depression is fighting a constant battle with their own mind they know how to hide it, and well. You can not tell that someone is depressed just by looking at them, and probably not by talking to them either. Always be kind to everyone because you never know what someone is going through, sometimes the happiest people have the darkest thoughts.

Depression is not "just a mood."

While depression may come and go, it is never "just a mood". A bad mood is being annoyed with everything for an hour, and getting over quickly enough that you still go to the movies with your friends. Depression is not something you can "snap out of", and it most definitely is not something that will be resolved within an hour. Depression can last for days, weeks, months, or even years-it is a never-ending battle that is way more destructive than a bad mood.

Depression is not just elevated sadness.

Depression has a way of devouring the positive thoughts in your brain, which affects a person in more ways than you would think. Yes, when you have depression you are feeling down, sad, and blue, but it is so much more than that. When your mind is destroying all of the positive thoughts in your head you not only feel sad, you feel as if you have no worth, as if you are not good enough, as if you are undeserving of happiness, as if you are burden to everyone, as if you have no reason to live. All of these negative thoughts can destroy a person's mind and body; depression is so much more than elevated sadness.

Depression is not a made up illness.

It has been scientifically proven that people with depression have higher levels of stress hormones present in their bodies, and lower levels of happy hormones. People with depression also have been found to have decreased brain activity in certain parts of their brain. Depression is not only biological, but it is also genetic. It spreads from generation to generation, so it is a vicious cycle that does not seem to ever have an end. Depression is not made up -- it is a real disease, a disease that is just as detrimental to a person's body and well-being as any other. Let's start acting like it.

Cover Image Credit: www.medicaldaily.com

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Picking Up The Pieces After Half A Year Of Grief

I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.


Half a year ago, my entire life changed in the split of a second. Almost every part of myself as I knew it went away and fell apart. I got depressed, really depressed, and at times woke up at night close to 4 a.m., shaking with terrible panic attacks. I lost friends. Almost all of my relationships changed. I questioned everything: who I was, my belief in a benevolent God, and whether I could still be a good person, a good friend, and a positive contribution to society, and a beloved child of God after I'd hurt people so badly.

No, I don't want to talk about what happened, and most likely never will except to the people I love. Instead, I want to talk about picking up the pieces and getting my life back together. No, there was no getting over it. No, it wasn't easy. No, the task isn't even complete. It might never be.

But now, in reflection, I learned more outside the classroom through having my experience than anything I learned in a classroom.

I learned that everything is complicated, absolutely everything. I learned that you have to withhold judgment and trust your gut about people until you have all the details. I learned that life goes on. It always does, but that isn't always a good thing, and at times, for me, it really wasn't. But at that moment, I also learned that God is good, even if life isn't. I learned that life is inherently confusing. Everyone is telling the truth, even if those truths are in direct conflict with each other.

I learned that life doesn't get easier. You get stronger, and life just gets different. I learned, in the words of William Faulkner, that the past doesn't go away. It's not even past. I learned that there isn't always a resolution to problems, and even though it hurts, you have to be okay with that.

I learned, after all, that life will never be the same. It never can, but that's not always a bad thing. There's a whole world out there ready to be explored. I learned, in an extreme way, that it doesn't matter what other people think about you. It matters what you think and what God thinks. I learned that sometimes you just have to stop and let yourself feel the pain and grief instead of pushing it away, because that's the only way you can go through life without people seeing that you're only a shred of a person lost and not all there. Sometimes, you just have to stop and know this: you're doing the absolute best you can. You're acting according to God's plan, and there's a bigger picture for all this.

I learned that picking up the pieces means accepting that life is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and at its worse, really ugly. I learned that picking up the pieces means that the story is never over. Yes, a traumatic moment or death re-organizes and re-charts your life entirely. Your plans are destroyed, but the beauty of life is that it won't go according to your plans. I learned that grief comes at life's most unexpected moments, and that even if that's embarassing, it happens that way for a reason.

I learned that life cannot go on if you sit in your room all day and cower in shame, unable to let yourself confront your demons. I learned that picking up the pieces means treating people with respect, like you would want to be treated, and saying hi and smiling even if they won't return that grace. I learned that life is about never giving up on people, even if your relationship with them is not the same and destroyed. I learned that life is an amalgamation of "so whats," a combination of accepting the notion that "so what this happened. What now?" to live in the moment.

But above all, I learned that picking up the pieces means owning your story. Every single part of it couldn't have happened to anyone else. But yours can help other people as long as you let it. I learned that the only reason you feel this much pain and love is that you loved something and loved people so much in the first place, and it's important not to lose sight of that love.

I learned, perhaps most importantly, that it's more important to be kind than right. Even if you're right, it's important to not get stuck in the pain. It's important to not defend yourself and stand down and surrender to the people that want you to suffer and rip you to shreds. What can they do to someone who already died over and over again, who can withstand anything through the grace of God?

Six months later, I'm eternally grateful. I'm more alive than I've ever been. I know what it is now to not need to control my life. I learned what it means to surrender. I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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