Explaining depression to others is exhausting. Not to those who experience it. We know how it feels, we know what it destroys. The numbing pain, the dark thoughts, and the dirtied filter we see the world through. The vulnerability of our uttered words and teary eyes. Received with blank stares by many. By those who believe it is a choice, who are offended by it, or by those who laugh at it, and choose to ignore it. To them, the coherent formulation of words providing a logical, dumbed down explanation, and the scientific facts behind it are insignificant. Their focus remains in the absurdity of it all. Not understanding the sadness behind our tired eyes. We chose it, we continue to choose it, they think. Their aim: solvability. The constant urge to fix it, to fix us. As if they are powerful enough, capable enough, knowledgeable enough to rewire our brain, to erase years of harm, of detrimental memories. They ignorantly throw advice, solutions. A complex illness, suddenly drenched in simplicity. Abruptly, the prevalent and dark thoughts, the unpleasant feelings, and distorted perceptions are minimized and judged. We chose them, after all. Certainly, we can un-choose them. Covert criticism of this apparent choice dominates the conversation, the focus. Our depression now represents our inability to choose appropriately, to choose happiness, to let go of those apparent “fleeting” emotions. For them, we are lazy, we are victims, we are incompetent. Incompetent of choosing a better life or a better perception of it, one that agrees with their views, with their abilities, and their experiences. We are seen as less than, as weak. Not living life appropriately. The rage, the shame, both intertwined as we hear their unsaid thoughts, as their eyes penetrate our souls, a look without pity, without empathy, full of judgment and misunderstanding.
Reality is, we are digging deep. Blindly, aimlessly. Digging into a dreaded place, a place of darkness, one that struggles to shed light, a dim of it. The intricacies of our mind, the thorn-full thoughts, and the endless hours of shattering rumination. We keep searching, almost desperately, probing for insufferable answers, unsearchable answers. It’s draining, it’s exhausting. This everlasting journey of answering the weighty and insightful questions: am I deserving of love? Will it get better?
The voices of loved ones echo a resounding YES! While the soft, but authoritative voice of our inner critic whispers a convincing NO! Why even ask this question? Isn’t our worth and happiness inherent? Given to us as we take our first breath, maybe even before? Possibly.
Can we be loved? Can we be happy?
After our first exhale and throughout our first years of life, we are gleaming of worth and happiness, showered by unconditional love, praises, affection, and even, unwarranted rewards. As we grow, however, this worth becomes conditional and the joy unpredictable. Measured by the materialistic and tangible items of life. By success. By expectations. Expectations set by others, by strangers. Our worth gradually devalued. Our happiness, barely visibly. Yet we continue to grapple with the never ending conflict of meeting these standards while simultaneously holding on to this dissipating worth, to the blissful idea of joy. Can we be loved? Can we be happy? Maybe, conditions apply. We are implicitly taught to look a certain way, have a certain job, have a certain amount of success, have a great family, and encouraged to meet this endless number of standards. Our worth, dependent of others. A roller coaster of incessant judgments, perceptions, emotions, and rejections. That worth that once belonged to us, is now shared with others. The consistent attendance of trials, where our qualities and flaws are broken into pieces and judged superficially, unfairly. We believe we no longer deserve unconditional love, praises, affection, and the unwarranted rewards. Not because we have chosen to, but because others have decided it.
But your struggle, my dear, is what makes you beautiful.
What makes you strong, what makes your soul shine. Your worth, immeasurable. We see you, we hear you. Your trembling voice, your pained and tired eyes, your forced smile. We see it all. We know how much it hurts! It is okay to feel exhausted, to be fearful, to be anxious. After all, you are battling inner demons. Ones you didn’t choose. It’s okay to be tired. Tired of trying, tired of the lessons. So, give yourself a break, rest, my dear. When things feel overwhelming, when they feel painful, remember: One thought at a time, One task at a time, One day at a time, One smile at a time.
I hope the world doesn’t harden you. Doesn’t discourage you. Keep moving. The right people will find you. They will support you. Encourage you. Pick you up. Hold your hand. You are not alone. So, keep going and move to the beat of your own rhythm.
Because, my dear, you belong here.
Sharon Paz - MS, CSC
Hello! My name is Sharon Paz and I am a bilingual professional counselor, fluent in both English and Spanish. I completed my dual Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling from Florida Gulf Coast University. I have worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I have also counseled students of different ages…