An Open Letter to the Loved Ones of Those Suffering From Depression
As well as those who may be unknowingly suffering from it themselves
In the interest of qualifying myself, I write this coming off one of the worst months I’ve ever gone through, and here’s the thing — nothing happened.
Not externally, anyway.
Internally though, the antidepressant I was prescribed the day before Halloween stopped working.
This is after feeling better than I ever have in my entire life, during the previous two months.
I brought in the New Year, laying in bed beyond sad, with no energy, motivation or slightest interest in anything — except wanting to feel better but not knowing how to.
My birthday came and went. I spent it in bed, struggling to even respond to happy birthday texts.
This went on for weeks on end and still isn’t over. I’m still fighting what feels like the hardest fight of my life — and one of the hardest parts of it is trying to help understand my loved ones and everyone else in my life what it is I’m going through.
In an ideal world, this would go on to become the most widely-read thing I’ve ever written because if I pull myself together to do my job correctly, it will be the most important thing I’ve ever written.
It’s important because I’m speaking not only for myself but also for the millions of others silently suffering from the black dog of depression.
And I’m speaking not only to my parents, best friends, colleagues and peers about it, but theirs as well.
I’m speaking about a condition you probably know very little about because as I’m finding out the hard way, even our doctors don’t know as much about as we wish they did.
Yet depression is a condition over 16 million in America alone have reported having at least one major episode of in any given year, and over 300 million suffer from worldwide, according to healthline.com.
That is almost the entire population of everyone in the United States, suffering from depression worldwide.
And no matter what language we speak or where we live, most of us have this in common — we’re not talking to our loved ones about our depression, mainly because we don’t know what to say or are afraid you won’t understand.
However it’s a conversation that is long overdue, so I’m attempting to be the voice for those who are afraid or unsure how to use theirs on the matter like I was for so long.
I have to speak up because people are going to lose their lives to depression tonight, and then again tomorrow.
It is one I lost an Aunt, Uncle and former employer/friend to personally and I am barely 33 years old.
Two-thirds of those people were not being treated for depression and were instead self-medicating. Both ended their own lives in their own homes with their guns.
I need you to understand depression is not sadness or just feeling a bit down. It is a chronic condition that kills your ability to feel joy and find interest in anything.
You are always overly tired and sleep doesn’t seem to help. Not only are you not interested in taking care of yourself or your loved ones, but you also don’t feel you have the physical or mental energy to do so.
It’s not personal, but if we’re not feeding or bathing ourselves, how can we honestly expect to be able to do so for others except where absolutely necessary?
Thus we realize, our depression affects those around us almost as much as it does us — if not just as much. And for that, we are so incredibly sorry. Our sorrow about not being able to be there for our loved ones in our worst moments is indeed one of the worst parts of our depression. But please try and understand, it’s in these moments we need you the most.
We need empathy, space, time and a fair amount of compassion. We need you to try and understand a condition even we don’t understand, one we wouldn’t wish upon our least favorite political candidate in the next election.
We’d like you to understand this is not something we choose nor is it a figment of our imaginations.
We can’t man up, shake it off, snap out of it or do any of the other incredibly generally broad but ignorant and horrible things you’ve suggested over the years. Trust me, if it were that simple, we’d happily do so and perhaps live happily ever thereafter.
Instead, what people like myself with major depressive disorders tend to do instead is one, or a tragic combination of the following things:
- We suffer silently and don’t get treated for depression
- We self medicate with drugs and alcohol and develop horrible addictions
- We eventually take our own lives
What may first appear to be overt laziness, poor hygiene and bad eating habits in your teen or adolescent could be depression.
Don’t get me wrong, it could just be laziness and bad hygiene.
I just know what appeared to be laziness in my case was a major depressive disorder of the low energy/high anxiety variety. Thankfully though, I’ve always been fond of showers. But sometimes it takes all the energy I can muster just to do that.
I have no interest or real stance on anything going on around me because I just can’t. Through no fault of my own, I don’t have the energy for it.
Not the mental, nor the physical. Still though, to my loved ones I am incredibly sorry. I wish it wasn’t so but unfortunately, it very much is.
The thing is though, I am so far from alone. Millions of others are suffering from depression and my aim in writing this is for it to help either one of them know they’re not alone or one of their loved ones to get a better understanding of what they’re going through.
Although, it’s something you could never fully understand if you’ve never experienced it yourself.
But if you never have, we truly hope you never do. I hope to help provide a better understanding of depression, without you ever experiencing it and if I’m lucky, maybe even a little relief to those suffering from depression by starting a conversation they badly want to have but don’t know how to.