How Depression Helped Me Find My People

By Danielle Ball

Danielle Ball
Danielle Ball

Although I wasn’t ready to admit it until recently, I’ve been living with depression for the past eight years. When it began, I simply started staying in more. Telling friends that I was tired or I was working too much. I made excuses for missing events and put on a smile during the times I couldn’t avoid going out. Although it felt like my world was coming to a stop, I didn’t feel panic, more like an enveloping sense of numbness. On their own, each of these symptoms might be tolerable, but the worst part was how isolated I felt.

Depression is a tough thing to bring up to people. For starters, there’s the stigma of admitting that one has a mental illness. It’s not exactly a casual conversation to have, and can lead to more questions than answers. Am I crazy? Do I believe in medication? Have I attempted suicide? Does it run in my family? Will I have it forever? I don’t have answers to all of these inquiries.

The second obstacle in sharing depression is that many people don’t understand it. They believe it’s simply a form of sadness. Although sadness is one component, there are many other aspects. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety, and physical symptoms such as aches, insomnia, and changes in appetite. You can read more about some of the symptoms here.

One of the things that made a difference for me has been sharing my experience with those closest to me. Not only have I gained a support network, I’ve been surprised by how many people have said, “Me too.”

So to the friends that text and call me when I haven’t been to work, thank you. To the friend that stays in with me when I can’t deal with crowds and real pants, thank you. To the friend that helps me make my to do list even when she notices the same things have been on it for weeks, thank you. To the friend that keeps inviting me out, no matter how many times I cancel, thank you. To the friend who sends bible verses because she has faith enough for the both of us, thank you. To the friend who answers the phone no matter when I call, thank you. To the puppy who’s always happy when I come home, even when we don’t go to the park, thank you.

I’m not cured yet, and I don’t know if I ever will be. Some days are better than others, but I’m fighting to feel like myself again. For everyone who’s struggling, know that you’re not alone. There is help out there. People do want to help. It will get better.

If you need help, reach out. Here are some resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hopeline

Crisis Text Line

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If you’re struggling to explain depression to your friends and family…

Hyperbole and a Half has a comic that I can relate to. Here’s part two.    

 

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