Learning from Depression

I’ve struggled with depression for about nine years now. When it first began, I thought that I was getting sick. Suddenly I wasn’t interested in anything. All I wanted to do was lay on the ground and think. My mind wouldn’t let my body move. Going outside suddenly seemed impossible, and I couldn’t make myself do it.

That was difficult thing for a kid in middle school to deal with. Most girls my age were thinking about boys and clothes; I was thinking about death and whether I wanted to be cremated or buried. I never considered getting help. It seemed like something that I had brought upon myself. I wasn’t going to bother anyone else with it, and I didn’t want anyone else bothering me about it.

When I heard people talking about depression, they acted as if the depressed person could just make his or herself happy — like depression was something you could switch on and off. I didn’t want people to try to help me, because I didn’t think that they could.

Middle school turned into high school, and high school came and went. I never got help. I never really told anyone what was going on. By that point, I didn’t know how to talk about it. Explaining why it was there was like trying to explain to someone why my body forced me to breathe. It just did.

Nine years have come and gone, and it is only after those years have passed that I have finally gotten some help with my depression. I’m happier now, but in some ways I feel like I’ve been cheated out of a part of my life. In other ways, I feel like it helped to mold who I am.

Life is less about dealing with things and more about embracing who you are. Depression isn’t always something that just goes away. I’ve discovered that in some ways it’s a part of who I am, but only a part. I think that was something that I had to learn.

For a long time I thought that my objective was to get rid of the depression, but now I think that it’s more about focusing on how it related to other aspects of my life. Put into perspective, I figured out a lot more about myself than I ever would have if I had simply “dealt” with the problem.

Depression may always be a part of my life, but it is not my life. I will be sad, but I will also be happy. I’ve spent the past nine years learning what it’s like to be depressed. Now I’m learning what it’s like to be happy. I’m not dealing with depression by overcoming it; I’m learning from it. I think that because of that, I am finally beginning to heal.

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