“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
Ever since I heard about this project, I’ve been determined to contribute.
I start a post, then I stop.
I write a post, then I delete it.
I did not realize how difficult it would be.
One of the hardest things about depression, for me, is explaining it to someone who doesn’t have it. I’m no Jenny Lawson or Allie Brosh, and this is hard. I’m still thinking about a cop-out. I just gave you links to two of the best bloggers in the universe, who also happen to have struggled with depression, so…does that count as a post?
No? No. Ahem. Okay.
People who don’t suffer from depression mostly don’t understand it, and even people who mean well often don’t “get it.” They don’t know why you can’t just “get over it” or “look on the bright side.”
Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it is just not that easy.
Depression is like this crushing weight, this mantle of sadness that you can’t take off. And it is so heavy. You don’t want to wear it, because it makes everything seem pointless and it drags the ground wherever you go. You try to stand up under the weight of it, but it is persistent, and it pulls you down and down until you feel so small and insignificant that you think you might disappear. And if it is really bad, you think everyone might be better off if you did.
Depression is sticky, like a spider’s web, and you’ll try and try, and you might think you finally got it all off, only to find that you can’t breathe and you can’t see and all you can feel is guilt – guilt that you’re crazy, and sticky, and always crying. Guilt for not being strong enough to throw off the cloak and clean up the webs. Guilt for being weak and for being in pain and for just wanting to hide.
Depression is like this bottomless pit and you just keep falling. You might reach out and try to stop the fall – or you might be so far down in the dark that you don’t think you’re worth saving.
Depression is a bubble that you can’t pop. You’re inside it, and you can see the shiny world outside, but you can’t quite reach it. So you go around in your bubble and pretend that you are really a part of the world, but you know you are separate. The bubble won’t let you feel the sun on your face and the laughter around you sounds flat and unreal.
I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager. Twenty years later and it’s still a bitch. But I’m still here. I might just be putting one foot in front of the other some days, but I’m still here, and I’m still moving forward.
January 30th, 2014 at 12:10 am
I’ve had this conversation often with my friends who have depression and I intend to share your piece. I mean, yes, I’ve had bad times. I think everybody gets depressed. But that is not the same as having depression. Every time I think I’ve gotten closer to understanding what having depression really is, I find I’m still a chasm apart. I feel like I’m trying to find Hansel and Gretel in the woods with only bits of bread to both lead and sustain me. It’s never quite enough and I have yet to catch up, or really catch on. But I’ll keep trying.
January 30th, 2014 at 12:20 am
Thank you for commenting! You have no idea – this was really hard for me to post, which is part of the reason that I think the Blog for Mental Health is so important. I’ve thought about the flip side – how hard it must be for people (like my husband) to understand. Sometimes all you can do is be there. You can’t fix it, or them, but sometimes just being reminded that someone cares is enough. I’m happy that your friends have a friend like you who cares enough to try!
January 30th, 2014 at 5:44 am
Thanks Steph, no people don’t understand it… “Think happy thoughts” and “count your blessings” didn’t really help me and yes the stigma is awful. Depression falls like a lead weight from no where and sometimes leaves as quickly, but other times it just likes to hang around like Churchill’s black dog. Thanks for blogging about it – not easy.
January 30th, 2014 at 7:41 am
Thank you. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with it too. I wish no one did!
I haven’t had time to really dig in to your blog, but it looks like we have another thing in common – plants! My house looks like a jungle sometimes. I loved your photos. I’m going back soon as I get some work done.
January 30th, 2014 at 10:03 am
I am not negating the fact that you listed to incredible bloggers. They are. But please don’t think for a moment that what you have written isn’t powerful or moving.
This is poignant and well written and having dealt with depression my entire life…I understand every word.
You are awesome!
January 30th, 2014 at 10:14 am
Oh Michelle! That means so much, especially coming from you! Thanks.
January 31st, 2014 at 10:06 am
My friend and I were talking about her mental issue yesterday and it does strike me that no matter how much I try to understand her, I never will. I always want her to be open about it, but sometimes I feel like she doesn’t want to put herself out there like that…. Because she knows I can’t ever fully understand, no matter how many times we discuss it. And probably that’s rough for her. But as I tell her often: please keep sharing.
January 31st, 2014 at 10:28 am
Thank you. You don’t know how many times I’ve thought about deleting this post. I can’t even read it again. I feel very exposed and also like I am silly and melodramatic. Like your friend, I almost never talk about having depression. I say I don’t feel well, or I’m having a bad day, or I just don’t say anything. Only my husband really knows when I’m down (cause he’s the one that has to deal with me, lol). I’m glad that your friend has such a good friend in you!
January 31st, 2014 at 6:39 pm
Even people that suffer from it don’t always get it. I know I don’t. Maybe I am just internalizing what I have been told, but I also often wonder why I cant “just get over it.” But I cant. And being told to does not help.
January 31st, 2014 at 9:52 pm
I know exactly what you mean. I wonder that too, and feel guilty that I can’t.
January 31st, 2014 at 6:44 pm
I admire your courage. And Allie and Jenny are my two favorite bloggers. Someday I hope to have the courage to share my issues with the world. Thank you for writing about this.
January 31st, 2014 at 9:58 pm
I don’t feel very courageous. (I just recently watched the Wizard of Oz, so I’m totally picturing myself as the lion now.) I think what I have mainly is a lack of good sense. But thank you for reading and commenting and not telling me to stuff it. 🙂
February 1st, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Steph, thanks for sharing about the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. And thanks for sharing your experience — I know it’s hard and it feels weird. Last fall, I posted about my mental health issues and how exhausting it can be. I also felt a bit strange being so exposed and talking about it — wondering if people were going to get judgy on me. But in the end, I left it up. Maybe I’ll repost it this year to support the project.
February 1st, 2014 at 12:56 pm
I think this project can have a positive impact on a lot of people, and I really wanted to be a part of it, even though I’m still judging myself over this post! But, it appears it did help spread the word about Blog for Mental Health, so…yay! 🙂
February 3rd, 2014 at 12:01 am
Excellent. I am glad that you finally hit publish on your post– every single person who speaks up and shares their experience makes an impact.
February 3rd, 2014 at 9:53 am
Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Thanks Aussa!
February 3rd, 2014 at 10:54 am
Hahahaha that is incredible.
February 4th, 2014 at 3:05 am
I too have had to deal with depression for almost 20 years. My husband is one who does not understand and says to just get over it to the point where I just say nothing. He feels taking medication to help feel better is completely wrong and that it doesn’t actually work, that I’ve convinced myself that it works. My mother just tells me to get over it. About five or six months ago I talked to my medical doctor aboit seeing a therapist. Finally learning and feeling much better, still have bad days, but learning to turn them around, sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. I commend you on being strong and writing about it. It’s not easy, especially when you have people around who don’t understand.
February 4th, 2014 at 9:20 am
Oh, Melanee, that is the worst! My husband doesn’t really understand depression, I don’t think, but he is very supportive. I have been in relationships before where I have been made to feel so bad about taking my meds that I stopped and it was awful. I’m so glad you’re in therapy and feeling better, sometimes.
And I’d like to bop your husband and mother on the head with the facts about depression. But I won’t, because I’m not Little Bunny Foo Foo and they are not field mice. Also, that might get me arrested.
February 4th, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Haha! Sometimes they do need it. Thankfully he is better than he was 10 years ago. Can’t fix moms.
February 5th, 2014 at 10:51 am
I think you did a really great job at explaining it. Go, you! Also, I know how depression can be literally ‘heavy’ and weigh you down. Some people might think that’s a metaphor…no, unfortunately not. I felt it as if something were literally pressing down on me, keeping me from moving. Perhaps I will write my own mental health project post.
February 5th, 2014 at 10:56 am
Thanks. I’m still judging myself, probably way more than anyone else is! It’s hard to write about this topic, but I think it’s important. Good luck if you decide to do it!
February 7th, 2014 at 5:38 pm
Thank for having the courage to share this post. I have been struggling in the last year to understand why I feel certain ways and have now gotten to the place where I accept my reality. I have had ups and downs and am working hard to build my tool chest to manage symptoms when the wave threatens to crash over me. Just like my asthma, it is an illness to address and not a weakness to fill me with shame or guilt. I am happy to have found your post. Thank you.
February 7th, 2014 at 7:15 pm
Thank you, Amber. I love this, “…it is an illness to address and not a weakness to fill me with shame or guilt.” So true, but so hard to remember sometimes.
February 7th, 2014 at 8:00 pm
I think you captured the weight and the heaviness that you can’t take off brilliantly. At worst I feel like I wake up with the weight of a small child sitting on my chest. It’s hard to explain.
In the build up to my wedding last year the weight returned and people said “How can you be sad? Don’t go back there, you’re getting married, you’re in love…” On and on. How is it that they don’t understand that those things make no impact on your health? They wouldn’t make any difference to cancer or diabetes!
Thank you for the post, it was beautiful to see myself in writing.
February 7th, 2014 at 8:12 pm
Thank you. It is hard to explain, especially when you “don’t have anything to be sad about” as so many people say. I’m glad you like the post; I’m sorry that you’ve felt that way too.
March 27th, 2014 at 12:11 pm
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April 21st, 2014 at 2:57 pm
Hi! I just found your blog via A Canvas of the Minds. I’ve had depression and anxiety and can relate to what you’ve written here. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
April 21st, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Thank you for commenting! This was perfect timing–I’m struggling with a post that just *won’t* be funny and I was worrying about posting it. Then you commented on this, so it seems fated that I should try to be brave again! 🙂