Even typing the words out in front of me, it still seems unbelievable I ever said them. In the course of discussing my past history and what might have caused my depression, I actually said those words. Why would I wish that? Why would I actually desire that something unfortunate happen to me?
Because it would give what I was going through some significance.
I have friends who have been stalked, molested, divorced, injured, operated on, verbally abused, and cheated on. Some of them were able to move on, some needed some help, and some are still dealing with the fallout. They have a reason to be depressed. What the heck ever happened to me? Granted, I’ve had my bumps here and there, but nothing like that. At least I could focus on a certain circumstance or event. How am I supposed to deal with just general sadness and confusion?
I’ll never forget the response I received to that first sentence (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Whether or not you feel like the reason for your depression is significant, the pain you are feeling is entirely real to you.”
A catastrophic event in someone’s life would certainly be a reason for them to be depressed. At the same time, not getting a particular grade on a test may also cause those feelings. Should the latter instance be discounted because the circumstances are less significant? In some instances, probably. Some people just like to whine. In other cases, though, that bad grade may feel like the end of the world, especially if the person receiving it is presupposed to depressive moods. The events can hardly be compared, but the magnitude of the feeling can be wholly equal.
I was recently talking with someone about post-traumatic stress disorder, and he said one of the keys to dealing with it is to own the feelings that accompany it. Basically, if you deny anything is wrong, you can’t begin to deal with the symptoms. I believe the same can be said of depression. So many times the temptation is there to push it down because what happened to us doesn’t seem bad enough to warrant the heaviness. We feel as if we should be able to straighten out our own thinking, especially when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to feel the way we do.
Someone needs to hear this. If you’ve led an uneventful life but still feel depression at your door, it is real. If you’ve been through a traumatic experience but you think you can’t ask for help, you can. If you’ve wondered why you feel different than you think you should, talk to someone about it. There is no bar of significance one has to clear to be deemed worthy of experiencing depression. If you are dealing with it, it is your whole world.
If you need to just get over it, I’m sure a counselor will be able to tell you that pretty quickly. I’m going to bet, though, that if anything I’ve written here today touched a chord with you they won’t turn you away. That pain you’re feeling? It’s yours. It’s real. It’s significant. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. Nothing has to happen to you to validate the way you feel. Don’t just pack it all away. Reach out. Seek help.
Remember, it’s yours. Only you know how bad it is. No one else ever will unless you tell them.