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The secret life of depression

“Depression is being colorblind and constantly told how colorful the world is.” – Atticus

Through my years being a therapist, I’ve had the honor of holding space with individuals who are experiencing depression. I’ve been a first- hand witness of the secret life of depression: how it looks different on everyone, the telltale signs it will show, the lies it tells, and the secrets it causes people to sometimes bare.

The secret life of depression can be found in the mom with a newborn, who sits on the floor and cries at 4 am after a night of only 20 minutes of sleep. She knows she should be happy. She has a beautiful newborn baby, and everyone tells her how lucky she is, and to enjoy every moment. But she isn’t enjoying every moment. She can’t. She has depression, and the pain is deep. The guilt of having this depression is almost deeper than the depression itself. Almost.

The secret life of depression can be seen in your friend on social media who can always be counted on to post pictures of their vacation, their trip with friends to the winery on a Sunday, and posts about how thankful they are for their life. You look at their posts, and from the looks of it, they are so happy and fulfilled. Within the secret life of depression, your friend on social media secretly sits in the car for a few extra minutes before walking into work, their stomach hurting from the stress of the idea of facing another day. They have to talk themselves into stepping out of the car. The whole walk into the building, they tell themselves they can soon go home and lay down. They check the clock hourly to countdown when they can escape.

The secret life of depression is feeling lonely yet wanting to be alone. It’s having to talk yourself into brushing your teeth. It’s caring so much about what you look like, but not having the energy to care at all.

The secret life of depression is cancelled plans, being tired during the day, and not being able to go to sleep at night. It’s lack of appetite and craving junk food. It is guilt and shame. It is lack of interest in the things you used to love to do, and mourning the loss of the person you were before these feelings.

The secret life of depression is so many things. Depression takes many forms, with multiple symptoms, but it does do one thing consistently: it lies.

Depression is a liar. It will tell you aren’t good enough. It will tell you to be nervous when you are happy for a moment, because it won’t last. It will tell you your friends secretly don’t like you, and the reason that person didn’t call you back is because you embarrassed yourself in your initial conversation with them. It will tell you you have no right to feel so sad, but will claw at you with its deep sadness and despair.

Depression tells so many lies. Here is the truth:

You are not defined by how you feel. You are not defined by what you were able to do today or yesterday. You are not defined by how many people text you, how long it took you to convince yourself to leave your bed today, or if you cried in the car once you knew you were alone.

You are defined by your heart. You are defined by how you treat others and how hard you try. You are defined by your hopes and dreams. You are defined by the fact that you are undefinable- and depression, with all of its lies, might make it hard to get out of bed, might be the reason you cancel plans, and might be the reason you don’t reach out to someone – but it does not dictate who you are and who you will be.

Know you are not alone. Know that even though it Is hard right now, it can get better. Know that any thought that tells you that is not true- that is the lie. That is the lie of depression.

Reach out today and share your truth, even if it’s just to a therapist, to start. Sharing your pain, speaking it out loud, takes away some of its power, and with time, will help lead you towards the light, towards the skills to not only help you cope, but help you create the life you deserve. Even if depression is telling you, right now, that you don’t deserve it.

You deserve every good thing that can and will happen to you. You don’t need to believe that today. I will believe it for you. But I hope you will believe it can get better.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So many people are suffering, and my goal is to show them they matter in this world. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please reach out to a therapist, and if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

© 2018 – Laura Manderino-Martins- All rights reserved