What I want you to know about depression

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Rachel.

You know how sometimes we have to force ourselves to do things we know are good for us? Maybe for you, it's forcing yourself to go to the gym. Maybe it means forcing yourself to cook a healthy meal instead of going through the drive-thru. Maybe it looks like writing one more page when you just want to go watch TV. Maybe it means getting out of bed to go to class. Whatever it is, we all know that feeling.

Now imagine that not only do you have to force yourself to do things you don't necessarily want to do, but that you also have to force yourself to do things that you DO want to do.

For me, and I suspect for many others, that is what depression feels like. When I am in the midst of depression, I have to force myself to spend time with friends, go to church, call my family, and paint my nails, all things I usually love to do. Depression makes every moment of every day a struggle. If living life is swimming 25 laps in a pool, living life with depression is swimming 25 laps through mud.

Depression is not just physical, just psychological, or just spiritual. Many times it is all three at once. And it's not always the same. Sometimes you're swimming through mud. Sometimes you're in a pit with no way to climb out. Sometimes you're running full speed towards health, and depression is nipping at your heels. Sometimes it is the desert that you thought you left behind until you realize you were merely at an oasis, not in paradise.

I want you to know what depression can feel like, but I also want you to know there are some things it is NOT.

Depression is NOT something to be ashamed of or hidden. If you are trying to make it through depression alone, you will fail every time. Get support. Tell people you trust and help them understand what you are going through. Depression will only be hidden in the dark as long as we refuse to shine a light on it.

Depression is NOT something you can snap out of. It is not treatable with food or shopping or sex; often that will only make things worse. If you know your friend is struggling with depression and it makes her not the most pleasant person to be around, be around her anyway. She needs your support and love, not a bandaid or a lecture.

If you are a Christian, Depression does NOT mean you are doing it wrong. "Christians are happy and joyful, right? How can I be a Christian if I am depressed?" Depression may stem from choices you've made in your life, but it can also be spiritual attack or your personal version of Paul's thorn in the side. It does not mean that God loves you any less. David was depressed, Elijah was depressed - these were men who loved the Lord and who He named as His.  

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