Depression by definition is "... a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest". Depression alters the way you think, feel, act, behave, love, engage physically and emotionally, and more. How do I know all of this? Because I have battled depression before and I hate to admit it, but I will probably battle depression again.

When I was a junior in high school, I was in two very bad car accidents and my back and hips were out of place and I could hardly walk. My head hurt every day to the point that I could not focus on the television. When they finally found out I had a brain malformation called a Chari 1 Malformation, I was so far depressed, I did not care to go to school. In total, I missed 48 days my junior year. These feelings continued into my senior year and before I knew what had happened, I was kicked out of the Missouri A+ program with only 30 more minutes of tutoring needed to complete and to receive my two free years of school. I hated everything and everyone.l could feel college slowly drifting away from me. All my hopes and dreams fading away, and my depression hit rock bottom.

I can say that thanks to the good Lord, I somehow managed to "get out of" my depression. I was put on medications for "anxiety", which is treated in many cases like depression, and I told everyone it was because of that. I began taking it the first day I received the medication. While the medication helped, it was not my cure all. I do not know how it happened, but through the Lord and in His timing, I soon felt like me again.

Sadly, what I can say is that while going through that period, I was looked at differently. People would hear I had "anxiety" and make comments to me like "but, you're always so happy!" and "are you sure you really have that, because you could be confused". Let me just tell you, yes, I did have depression. No, I am not ashamed to admit that I had depression, it has shaped who I am, and I am thankful for that in a strange way.

Depression "affects ore than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year", according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA. That is a lot of people being affected by this disease in a given year and not a lot of knowledge.

Here is one thing I want to bring light on...what depression actually looks like, in case you have never be faced with a loved one battling this.

Depression is not always the quiet emo kid in the back, stereotypically seen cutting (yes, sometimes depressed kids cut but not always, I did not).

Depression is not always a girl or guy sitting in a corner crying for the rest of their life (while crying can happen, this is a phase of depression).

Depression is going to a party and deciding to not mingle with any friends because you just do not care enough to talk.

Depression is skipping school because you do not have the strength to do work anymore, and you'd rather drop out than face another day.

Depression is laughing with your friends one minute over a silly boys' comment and the next, crying because you are single.

Depression is getting in your car, playing music, and driving around your hometown for hours because you cannot cope with the stresses of life in that given moment.

Depression is being happy one moment for the blessings you have received from the Lord, and the next, being sad for the pain you have endured to get there (I know, it's a tangled web we weave).

Depression is looking in the mirror and thinking "Man! I am one beautiful woman/handsome man", and two minutes later, crying because you feel so unloved and repulsive that you cannot understand how anyone would want to even look at you.

Depression is hiding how I feel to not upset you, because I could not bear for you to look down on me...that would only make it worse.

Depression is not just "in my head".

Depression is not just something you can "get over".

Depression is not the ideas that society has claimed them to be, but rather when you have stopped feeling.

Depression is not just a bunch of bad days. It's a variety of good and bad days put together.

Depression happens, and sometimes the illness is brought on by life. Let me give you some words of encouragement: LIFE HAPPENS! Sometimes, you cannot stop the storm from coming full force at you, but you can get into the basement and hold on with all your might, and that's what happens. When you develop depression after a traumatic life event, you see the storm, but you hold onto the things that matter. For some, though, their brains do not make the right chemicals, and they have an imbalance. They cannot help the fact they are sad and depressed, but rather have to live with the depression.

Here is my challenge to you: let's start to view depression as not a weakness but an opportunity for growth. If you have depression, you can grow and get "out of your funk". Seek help, however, that looks for you. If you do not have depression, keep your eyes open for the signs and the symptoms . Asking someone if they have depression does not give them depression, but it could help them.