To many outsiders maybe my life looks great, I mean look at all my blessings. But you see, depression doesn’t care about all my blessings and when an outsider tries to “help” me by pointing out all the reasons why I shouldn’t be depressed it only makes me feel worse and causes me to feel more guilt and even more like a burden.
J.K Rowling who is most well known as the author of the Harry Potter series, who many may not know had also suffered with depression for many years was once quoted as saying “It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness.” This is possibly the biggest reason why depression can be so confusing to so many outsiders because she’s so right, depression is a lot more than just feeling sad; it’s a blackness, it’s feeling insignificant, it’s exhaustion, it’s loneliness and it’s a feeling of hopelessness all rolled into one.
To imply to a person who is suffering with depression that they have so much to be thankful for, that they are so lucky, that they should just look on the bright side or that they have such a great life may be seen by the outsider as a good intention but in reality it is actually deeply discouraging to someone battling with depression. As I said above these phrases are just creating more feelings of being a burden and more feelings of guilt.
It may also make someone suffering with depression feel like they are not being heard and that their feelings are not being validated. These thoughts from an outsider implies that the individual who is suffering have no feelings of gratitude or that they are too self-absorbed to be grateful when in reality they are just too damn exhausted trying to fight with their emotions.
Depression is not just one simple feeling of sadness but is instead a complex combination of neurological, environmental and social components leaving someone suffering with depression feeling even more misunderstood when they hear these well intentioned phrases while putting an even bigger target on the disease itself by perpetuating the stigma further and dismissing the severity of the illness.
I can’t keep apologizing for who I am or who I have become anymore. I can’t continue to feel ashamed of my mental illness anymore and I can’t live with the guilt associated with the outsiders looking in who think that someone else may “have it much worse” than me. It won’t change the fact that I am who I am or that I have what I have and with or without guilt I am just trying to do what’s best for me. And yes I am beyond grateful, thankful and lucky for all the love and support that surrounds me everyday.