What I Wish People Knew About Depression

robin-williamsSomeone recently asked me to write on what I wish people knew about depression, in light of Robin William’s suicide. Here’s my response.

I wish people knew that depression is complex, that it is a physiological condition with psychological and spiritual components, and therefore can’t be forced into any neat and tidy box, that healing needs to come from lots of kinds of sources and that every person’s recovery is different.

I wish people knew the depression doesn’t happen in a vacuum and is part of a intricate web of biological systems (nervous, digestive, endocrine, respiratory), that depression is about the gut as well as the brain, the thyroid and the nerves, that we would have better health in this country if we approached depression with a holistic view.

I wish people understood that untreated depression can increase the risk of developing other illnesses, that a 2007 Norwegian study found that those participants with significant depression symptoms had a higher risk of death from most major causes, including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses (such as pneumonia and influenza), and conditions of the nervous system (like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis).

I wish people would offer those who struggle with depression the same compassion they offer to friends with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, breast cancer, or any other socially acceptable illness, that they’d question those discriminations and judgments reserved for disorders that fall under the umbrella of “mental illness.”

I wish people knew that depression wasn’t something that can be cured by participating in a 21-day meditation series with Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle on Oprah.com, and that although mindfulness efforts can certainly help, it’s possible to have consistent, chronic death thoughts even after years of developing a meditation practice.

I wish people knew you could be grateful and depressed at the same time, that gratitude can coexist with a mood disorder.

I wish people knew that, despite impressive research on neuroplasticity and our brain’s capability of changing, it is unfair to expect a person to undo depression by merely thinking happy thoughts, that the science is new and while a person can be mindful of forming new neural passageways, he can’t change a lamp into an elephant overnight, just as he can’t un-think a tumor from happening.

I wish people knew that medications don’t provide all the answers. They can begin the healing process and allow the other hard work to be done, but aren’t capable of fixing everything.

I wish people knew that millions of people don’t respond to medications, and that, while brain stimulation technologies offer hope for treatment-resistant depression, these persons are dealing with a different kind of beast altogether and should not be blamed for their chronic illness.

I wish people knew that a depressed person is capable of fake laughing for two hours through a dinner only to go home and Google “easiest ways to get cancer,” that most depressed persons deserve Academy Awards for outstanding acting, and that it can be practically impossible to pick up on the desperation and sadness in a person who wants so badly to die because chances are she is the one cracking jokes in a crowd.

I wish people knew that depression isn’t caused by constipated energy in the crown (or seventh) chakra or by the possession of demons in the soul, that neither reiki nor an exorcism is likely to cure it.

I wish people knew that the endorphins from exercise are as close as a depressive will get to an anesthesia for pain but that it’s possible to swim 5,000 yards a day or run seven miles a day and still be suicidal, that a sad swimmer can fill up her goggles with tears.

I wish people knew that while yoga is helpful for some, a person can walk out of the studio just as depressed as she was before Namaste.

I wish people knew how essential diet was to treating depression, but that you can eliminate gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar from your diet—you can exist on green smoothies–and still be depressed, that fish oil, vitamin B 12, and a good probiotic could very well improve your mood, but that they aren’t magical elements.

I wish people knew that the worst part about depression is the sheer loneliness, the inability to express the anguish that rages within, and that the smiley-face culture we live in worsens that loneliness because depressed persons are so scared to tell the truth.

I wish people knew that persons who struggle with depression aren’t lazy, uncommitted, and weak, that they are not trying to get attention.

I wish people knew that depressed brains looked different on high resolution x-rays, that when experts scanned the brains of depressed people, they discovered that the front lobes of the brain displayed lower activity levels than those in non-depressed patients, that there are breakdowns in normal patterns of emotional processing, that depression can be associated with the loss of volume in parts of the brain and can inhibit the birth of new brain cells, which is why renown psychiatrist Peter Kramer believes it is the “most devastating disease known to mankind.”

I wish people knew that taking one’s life can feel like sneezing to a severely depressed person, that it can be a mere reaction to the body’s strong message, that after fighting a sneeze for years and years, some people simply can’t not sneeze anymore, that they should not be condemned or demonized for sneezing.

I wish people knew that the hardest thing some persons will ever do in this lifetime is to stay alive, that just because staying alive comes easily to some, it doesn’t mean arriving at a natural death is any less of a triumph for those who have to work so very hard to keep breathing.

I wish people knew that the best thing you can do for a person who suffers from depression is to believe her.

I wish people knew that sometimes depression is triggered by something and sometimes it’s not, that sometimes one small thing is needed to pull a person out of darkness, and sometimes everything is unable to, that sometimes the only thing you can do is to wait for symptoms to subside.

I wish people knew that depression comes and it goes, and in its ebb and flow are found pockets of peace that can sustain a person for the journey.

I wish people knew, more than anything else, that there is hope.

Beyond medication and meditation.

Beyond fish oil and vitamin D.

Beyond acupuncture and yoga.

Beyond mindfulness and biofeedback.

Beyond cognitive behavioral therapy and brain stimulation technology.

Beyond every action imaginable, there is hope for depression.

In reaching beyond the self to others who understand the instinct to sneeze.

In sharing the familiar yet unique story of one’s illness.

In finding a purpose to live for.

In attaching every piece of the heart and soul to some meaning in this world.

In gently turning the pain and the bitterness to love and service.

Published originally on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

 

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104 thoughts on “What I Wish People Knew About Depression

  1. Boy Theresa! Every single time you write something I am inspired by you and always impressed by your writing….what I know of your journey so far….so proud of you for the award you won recently…and so impressed by your gift of the Facebook website Beyond Blue. I often think of writing you…and have more to say but in the meantime thank you so much for the work that you do for so many people who suffer with depression. The world is definitely a better place with you in it! Karen

      1. Thank you so much for speaking those words. I felt each and every word with such intensity. Everything you said is EXACTLY the way I feel. It was a gift given in the most gentle and kindest way. I truly thank you very much for saying that so beautifully. Donna

      2. I suffer from asevere case of depression..No amount of therapy. makeup, hair styles, medications are helping. everyone around me knows, but yet think I’m selfish with the way I express my thoughts and feelings. I’m pregnant and never before was I even able to have children, and still I’m not happy. I dint want to have this baby anymore..and Iwould never act upon it, but the thoughts don’t go away. nothings helps, I have so much to be thankful for; my life, the gift of new life, my dachshund, the father of my baby, my family and friends..and still I want to disappear from everyone every single day. I’m so unhappy I really hate myself. and their is never going to be anything to fix me..

          1. Jackie,

            I completely understand your pain. I am going in July for 6 weeks to a place called Soverign Health. It’s a residential treatment center for depression. My insurance is paying most of it, but this place is wonderful and really works with you to get u help. Let me know if you want the contact info for the person who is helping me get in

          2. please I would like information to place.. things have not gotten better for me and in facing new complications with this pregnancy almost every month. I want help

          3. Jackie, I’m so sorry to hear this. You might read my blog, 8 Things To Consider When You’re Not Getting Well, and think about pursuing one of those ideas. You can find it under Favorite Blogs. I’m so sorry you are suffering. Also, be sure to reach out to other folks in Project Beyond Blue (www.projectbeyondblue.com) and Group Beyond Blue (www.facebook.com/groups/groupbeyondblue) for peer support. Just knowing you are not alone can make a huge difference. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

        1. You sound so brave. Your having a baby. That’s amazing. Im only sixteen. Im not skinny and I’m not happy with myself but reading what you’ve written makes me proud of you and myself. Despite how you feel and despite how hopeless it is, you’re powering through and I’m proud of you for that. I think that for people like us all we can hold onto is the little things. I hold onto my mum and my sister and my dog and my home. You’re strong, you can get better. I’m proud of you.

        2. I understand because I feel the same things,that it will never go away completely. The thing I have learned over the time I have been depressed ie 61years, is that you must never give up no matter how hard it is. I have tried so many anti depressants and dealt with the withdrawal symptoms and the periods of clean out before trying yet another. Now that I am retired I have given up on anti depressants. If I feel too tired or depressed to get up in the morning, it doesn’t matter all that much now. but I have raised five children and suffered the loss of their father when he was only 52 with Motor Neurone disease. Over the years {I am 76} I have found that the only thing to do often is just the best you can each day but never give up or give in to the urge to end the pain and suffering of depression through suicide. I have had those urges but I am truly glad I never gave in to them. To be honest it was only my Catholic upbringing of fear of going to hell if I took my own life that stopped me. Now I don’t think a loving God would be so lacking in compassion. Now its really love that helps. I know that there would be so many people who would be hurt so badly. The thing I hang onto during the times when I am down is a determination not to let this thing beat me. Just do one day at a time. Research is goingon all the time and breakthroughs do occur. One day I believe there will be a cure.

          1. Margaret, I am 66 and part of my story I get stuck in is that this is my 6th severe episode over the last 46 years and that I am stuck with this disease and I won’t get well. When I read what you wrote ( I was also raised Catholic) you hit all the important points that seem true to me. When I think of the awfulness of depression, it is hard for me to imagine that you would suffer from its bleakness. You seem like a deep, kind and loving person, and someone I would want to know. Thanks for your post. I am not sure of how this blog works, if something will actually come to me over email, but I hope I am doing this right. It helps to read what you wrote.

      3. Therese,, I’m a 48 yrs old man and can’t remember how I got to your website. For the past almost one hour I have been reading this post ‘What I wish people knew……..’ and trust me I’m crying all along like a baby for its the first time I have seen an almost complete description of the so lightly & loosely used term ‘Depression’. I have experienced so much of what you’ve beautifully written for years. At this time, all I can say is Thank you and God bless you.
        Arun

      4. Therese Borchard what a beautiful piece of writing. I wish that such vision, insight and compassion could become the norm. Among the great many battles I am currently fighting is the expressed views of so many people that consider depression and anxiety is a ‘self inflicted’ condition which lacks legitimacy. I now believe that this has had an adverse effect on my already serious depression and anxiety over the last 40 years. The guilt of being unable to ‘respond’ in a way that others expect you to is such a heavy load to bare.

        1. Therese, to have suffered so much has given you the wonderful gift of being able to help thousands of others suffering from depression. You can express all the emotions we feel, but can never put into words like you can. I wonder has Michael Fox read your wonderful article? If he hasn’t he should, but I really don’t think it would alter his views. People like him really don’t understand depression at all and never will. I also have only discovered this fantastic website lately. Their really are no words of thanks to you Therese, you truly are an amazing lady. Thank you so much, love Mary xx

      5. Therese, you encourage all of us to think of ourselves as more than our depression. That is precious to me. I have a difficult time loving myself and forgiving myself for becoming depressed. My depression is trauma based, I blame myself a lot for not being strong, for the fact that my siblings do not seem to lose jobs, etc. over the trauma we experienced. I judge myself a lot, I re-read your web page to help me with that.

  2. Therese,

    Thank you for these words. Thank you for reminding me that my depression isn’t a character flaw. That it isn’t due to a lack of positive thinking. That it isn’t because I’m not trying hard enough or not being a good enough person. Thank you for reminding me that there is hope and purpose on the other side of this darkness.

    Sean

    1. Thank you Sean, for saying that. I have felt all of those things about myself for as long as I can remember. If only I can stop blaming myself.

  3. Theresa~my dr said to me years ago ~(I am 66 )now “Catherine you were born this way” Please know bad things happen to good people. This helped me. Thank you so much. For your writing. I have fibro/ cfids and RA. I had two major surgeries feb and April. I found you on Toni Bernhard site. I’ve been friends with Toni about 4 years. I too ~am drawn to the mystics saints.
    Many blessings to you
    Catherine

  4. Excellent blog. You are able to express everything I think and feel. Thanks for explaining what we experience on a daily basis to everyone who does not live with depression. I appreciate your writting and am your biggest fan. I realize it is not easy for you since you personally deal with depression and anxiety too. Your writing is so important, funny and so encouraging. Thanks for being a light in a world that can be totally “black” at times. God Bless You

  5. WOW-You have an incredible gift of TRULY expressing what it is all about. I feel a light has been turned on in my dark room tonight-BLESS YOU

  6. Therese I’m so grateful that your voice is being heard. You are so authentic. This is beautifully written and makes me feel so understood. Thank you x

  7. If I hadn’t run out of tears this would have set me off again. So many truths in this post, things like the colossal amount of acting depressed people have to do everyday, only to come home and search for ways to take the pain away. “Gratitude can co-exist with a mood disorder”, I wish I could say this to those that tell me I have “first world problems” and to “think of those less fortunate than you”. I know it’s a terrible thing to admit to, but yesterday I wondered if I would swap my screwed up mind and splintered spirit for a physical disability, because I watched a wheelchair bound man jiving in the pub, and wished I could be as joyful as him. I don’t think I have ever come across an article which so reflects how I feel, thank you Therese. Hope feels very distant for me, I would do almost anything to have it back.

  8. I am so glad I found your site! You are inspiring…..that has not happened in awhile. It feels like you actually get it….so refreshing!

  9. I have treatment resistent bipolar disease which leaves me in the depressed phase more often than not. I have multiple times tried to take my own life. No one understands how you just get to that point and that you are not attention seeking. Your blog fit me so well. It is nice to read something that you wish everyone understood. Thanks

  10. All of these posts so reflect what I have experienced and continue to experience. It’s so very difficult to talk about and you feel so alone, you’re afraid to tell people how you really feel, ashamed, lonely, like your trapped in a box and can’t get out. It is true agony of the mind and torture of the soul. People can’t understand, after all it’s not like you are paralyzed, except with depression and fear, it’s not like your bleeding and can stop it, even though the mind has a gapping wound, you’re lucky, really, after all you don’t have cancer, except something is eating away your joy, stealing your peace, your not hungry, except for someone, anyone to understand, really understand, show you compassion and empathy exactly what they would show someone with physical illness. Just think if you have a physical illness people will bring you a casserole and visit.
    But mental illness still a big taboo, and God knows no one wants to catch it! Fear! When will people know better and do better! Praying, hoping, begging for Understanding. We still…..need more enlightenment about mental illness! Hoping! Maybe, one day soon!

  11. Also, I suffer with bipolar. The highs can be great and bad, the lows feel like your trapped in a deep hole and can’t climb out. God knows I feel these peoples pain…bonecrushing, heartwrenching pain….not only do you suffer but the people who care about you, if there are any, suffer too….thanks so much, from the utter depths of my soul for this blog…..at least there are people who understand…one day I hope there will be a cure…
    And hopefully, not one more soul has to suffer…..God love you all!!!!!

  12. Thank you for this. I’ve struggled for a majority of my adulthood (and adolescence, etc..). I have family in the medical profession who don’t believe in psychiatric illness, and therefore view those who struggle as weak. I’m happy to say that I no longer agree with them. I think those who struggle handle pain that these people could never comprehend.

  13. Theresa,

    The article you wrote “The Things I wish People Knew About Depression” is the most accurate description about major depression I have ever read. Thank you.

  14. Thank you for saying it like it is. My son lost the battle with depression just a month ago. I was very aware of the depth of his pain, but am still devastated that I could not keep him safe from that final decision. So many people loved him but did not know of the pain he was in. As a mom you want your children to be able to climb the highest mountains, and survive the deepest valleys. This valley of depression was just too much for him. I long to tell him it’s O’K. You did your very best, I long to tell him one more time..”I love you”

    1. Dear Kathy,
      I can try to imagine what you’re feeling from your precious son’s exit from this earth. Odd, that I so often fantasize about ways to end life, including letters, notes, videos and how any or all of these might affect others, but at the same time be acutely aware that my only child and son may be making similar plans or fantasies himself! I used to play the organ solo to a song stolen from The Supremes by a rock group called Vanilla Fudge ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’; I’m not sure who is keeping whom hanging on, and it’s not a contest between my dear boy and me, but it seems like we’re both keeping the other one hanging on! I just found this online place after several hours on Valentines Day of woe and angst — so glad to know this exists, and that we all exist. Reading your painful post about your son makes me want to phone mine — I usually back away from calling him because the tension between us is so hopeless-feeling. I hope that, once our times on this blue-green orb are over, we’ll understand it all completely. Thank you for telling your story, helping me to think more long-term, for my son’s sake and likely my own as well.
      Prayers and hope,
      Sheila

      Precious son’s

  15. Please tell me how to take this pain away! I’ve done everything right so why do I feel so bad!Death is anxiously awaited!

  16. WHENEVER I COME TO THE WEBSITE YOU SEEM TO ALWAYS SAY WHAT I NEED TO HEAR AND I USUALLY FORWARD IT TO SOMEONE I KNOW.(WHICH ISN’T THAT MANY) I AM 50 YRS. OLD AND I HAVE COMMENTED MANY TIMES TO DIFFERENT ARTICLES. ROBIN WILLILAMS DEATH TO ME WAS ONE OF THE DEVASTATING EVENTS FOR ME PRETTY MUCH IN THE LAST 16 YEARS, AND THAT INCLUDES GOING TO JAIL 2X AND STRUGGLING FOR THE LAST 2 12 YEARS OF TRYING TO FIND BALANCE, OR AS THE RECOVERY WORLD CALLS IT LIVING “LIFE ON LIFES TERMS”. I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED ALOT OF REALLY GOOD EVEN GREAT THINGS IN THESE LAST FEW YEARS, BUT NEEDLESS TO SAY, I AM SAD ALOT. AS A MATTER OF FACT YESTERDAY I WAS CURLED UP IN A BALL AND I COULDN’T STOP CRYING. RIGHT NOW I AM IN WEEK 2 OF FACILITATING A LOCAL N.A.M.I. GROUP HERE IN TUCSON PEER -2- PEER. I AM A RECOVERY SUPPORT SPECIALIST, STATE CERTIFIED BY N.A.M.I., I ATTEND MANY, MANY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH GROUPS AS WELL AND NOT JUST FOR A LITTLE BIT. THE MAJORITY OF THEM I AHVE BEEN GOING TO FOR AT LEAST THIS GO ROUND OF RECOVERY AND THEN D.B.T., FOR SEVERAL YEARS AS WELL AS THE GOVERNMENT CURRICULUM SEEKING SAFETY. ON A WEEKLY BASIS I USUALLY HAVE AT LEAST A RAGING EPISODE PER DAY. I HAVE BEEN MED. COMPLIANT FOR AT LEAST 30 YEARS….SORRY TO GO ON AND ON, AS YOU SAY THERE ARE ALOT OF HOURS, MINUTES, AND SECONDS PER DAY THAT NO MATTER WHAT IT JUST WONT GO AWAY.
    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH FOR GETTING IT.
    SINCERELY
    DESERTQUEEN

  17. Using your pain to help others who suffer with treatment-resistant depression…How very beautiful you are. I sit here in amazement after reading your words. I have lost hope that I will ever be near well enough to help myself much less to find the strength within me to reach out to others who suffer as do I. You and your journey are truly a blessing. I don’t know what led me to your site today but I am going to begin a list of daily blessings and finding this website is going to be the first entry.

    1. Terri, you are in my prayers. I do know that place of hopelessness. The ironic thing is that so many people are there that is becomes not as hopeless as you once thought. Much love and peace to you.

  18. Thank you for this website. I found it today, and am today, as always, fighting depression. My days run together in a string of gray, no matter the weather or activity. My christian faith is what keeps me from taking that final “sneeze”.

    My depression started when I was in my late teens. Looking back now from 56, I see that depression runs in my family. I am currently on anti-depressants, and they help, but come with side effects. I, too, have tried so many different prescriptions that I lost count, and was finally diagnosed with a mixture of “clinical depression with bi-polar indications”.

    I gave up eating and getting out of bed a year and a half ago, thought I would just die. But you know, the human body is a machine; it keeps running. I am still here. Going from one day to the next. It is helpful to know there are so many more of you out there like me!
    Ann

  19. Just a thought . . . Two days ago I was walking my dog in bright sunshine at -15c. That’s pretty chilly up here in Ontario. I was in the middle of a pretty bad depressive stage. All at once I felt weighed down yet intensely alive. I wanted to cry, but crying is no longer in my vocabulary. Recently my fall back plan is just to “be”. Let the moment be what the moment is. If there are no words to describe it, don’t fight that. Thankfully I do not have suicidal/death thoughts anymore but here’s my question: could it be that just as laughter and weeping can be closely related emotions could deep depression and intense joy be connected too. That day, that cold air and sunshine was like that. During my battle with depression I have had one rule: not one day will go by that I do not go outside. Now I add to that that I will feel what ever I feel. If that helps anyone I just put it out there. I believe it prevented me from becoming completely agoraphobic and housebound. It allows me to experience misery or joy but at least it’s an experience.

  20. I felt Robin’s suicide deeply. I have Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymia) and it’s been with me 50 years or so (I’m 65). It has wrecked many areas of my life. I am going to yet another provider this week, an ARNP who is good at adjusting antidepressant medications. I take duloxetine and it is not quite helping. I’ve been diagnosed only with depression, or adjustment disorder, or whatever any therapist wanted to call it. I found recently that I fit the profile to a T for the new DSM-V defined Persistent Depression Disorder. It explains so much of my life. I am praying that this new provider has kept up with the DSM classifications, and can offer something to help me straighten out my life. I want to stop the crying, the moodiness, the inability to work with others, the lousy self-esteem. Your websites are helping me, and I’m headed over the the one called community.projectbeyondblue.com . Thank you for your work!

    1. Don’t know if you are still here, but had to say that you sound so much like me. I just turned 55, and have suffered from depression and anxiety probably since junior high.

      Just started on Prozac again today after much agonizing over whether or not to do it. I hate the idea for various reasons, but I’m just so worn out at this point.

    2. Sherry, I have Major Depressive Disorder with slight Bi-polar and ADD. I had a similar situation to yours for the past 2 years. I also take Cymbalta, lithium, klonopin and Ritalin. I’ve been on medications for 25 years. Over the past 2 yrs. my doctor tried several antidepressants and nothing helped. I cried everyday for months at a time. I even started crying one day and cried for 4-5 hours each day for 5 weeks straight. The depression continued until I was at the point of considering ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). Then my doctor tried a new antidepressant that just came out in July. It had only been on the market for a month, and even though he didn’t like to use brand new meds we were out of options. I started taking .5mg and notice a difference the first week. I felt better and felt motivated to do things. I increased to 1mg and then 2mg. It has made a huge difference in improving my previously constant depressive state. The medicine is Rexalti. It’s expensive but worth it. You can get assistance from the Drug Mftr. on their website. You might try this med, it’s made a world of difference for me. I am still on my other meds because we want to see how this works over several months time.

  21. Wow, excellently described. Truely a hidden debilitating disease.
    Every treating healthcare professional should read the description you outline above of the patient’s perspective of depression.
    Thank you.

  22. To our beautiful angel T- You always have this talent for explaining our side so well. God gave you such a wonderful gift for representation. Thank you for eloquently putting words to our struggles. Sincerely, Michelle Reeves

  23. I enjoyed reading your blog, more than you know. I have been struggling since 2011, from a bad depression. I want to join the community. I do not talk with anyone about my feelings, thoughts, etc. I hope this will help me.

  24. Sweet Theresa Thank you so much for thee encouragement that is much need to continue to have Faith for the next day after the next to continue to live without my beloved sweet awesome youngman my Son for my heart is broken and it is so very difficult to wake up without my Sonshine .

  25. I am very grateful that God led me to your site. I will be sharing this info with my family and friends very soon. Maybe some of them will understand me and my depression a little better. I have never been able to explain it to anyone so I am hoping this info will help. In the mean time I have decided I need to concentrate on my health and try not to worry about what others think about me. Nobody will truly understand depression unless they have een through it themselves. I like what you said about if I had cancer etc, they would understand me but depression is another whole ballgame. My mother, sister and possibly my grandmother and 2 aunts also suffered from depression so I speak of which I understand.

  26. This is one of the very best articles/reflections on depression on
    depression I have ever read!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  27. Therese, May I add a wish to your posting? I wish people realised that guilting one out of suicide by preaching about all the people I may hurt, doesn’t make the pain any easier. I love your writing. Best..

  28. Hello everyone may god bless us all.I have been living in hell for a long time now I’m trying to keep myself alive every day.I would like to tell you so much more but I can’t spell to well.I would like to said that it gets easy but it does not.But you have to keep fighting very hard and keep trying to education yourself. thank you love patrick

  29. I totally agree that foods place a HUGE roll in depression and anxiety. For me it is SALT SALT SALT. I have proven it over and over with myself. Think about it. Salt retains water in your body, your brain is mostly water at least I’ve been told that. I think the water retention in the brain makes you depressed, irritable and full of anxiety. Before menopause I would not eat salt, not over drink water and stay away from salty foods because it made my PMS horrible. Even sea salt makes me depressed and of course sugar does too. I saw the article on AOL news which lead me to this web site, and every food that was mention not only had sugar they also had SALT which was not even mentioned.

  30. Keep up the good work . Your on to a new way of thinking .
    I have be fighting cancer issues / nerve issues . I am so done with all of this pain !!!!!
    its a mind set next that is next for me …..
    I do know that there is a big key in all of this you need to go out of your box that you are living in and go have so BIG fun in your depressed mood . work’s for me …

  31. People don’t understand that depression isn’t contagious. The only person who helps me from tettering on the edge is my doctor. My entire life has been the most superb acting job that everything is wonderful. There is no support system as no one ever reaches out and when I try to fight through the fog of being by myself in this illness, it takes days for anyone to respond. I fight everyday the life ending thoughts that are so much of my life right now. I exercise, volunteer with children, but I’m afraid to be alone as to what may happen, so I am in a loveless relationship. Thanks for letting me say it – depression is not contagious. Reach out and help your friend.

  32. this article really hit home for me, it feels like I’m reading my thoughts, thoughts that I try to share with ones closest to me and they blow it off like its a phase. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve been on many medications and have been in therapy twice a week for 3 years. Im dedicated and have some skills to use but fear sets in when I’m left alone with my mind. I cry, isolate, have high anxiety when leaving the house, and fear the unknown. My three beautiful children are the only reason I’m still continuing to fight. Thank you so much for this article, I’m going to share it with my therapist tomorrow…. Praying for all those who live with mental illness everyday….

  33. I so happy to find this website/blog/community. I’m just getting back on track after a major meltdown due to going off my anti-depressant after 15 years, changing my thyroid medication from brand to generic and letting my primary physician change my thyroid dosage 3 times in 4 months! It has been a battle to get back to any sense of “normal”. My journey began with a panic attack in college (1987) which lead to undiagnosed ( no meds/ white knuckle approach) anxiety/depression for the next ten years. Finally,I did go on meds but probably not the correct ones. I got married and had three children. First child (2001) I went off medication and suffered intense PPD but the next two children (2003/2004) I stayed on meds. After my third child, I had a severe meltdown and thankfully, a doctor looked at my thyroid. Only once I was on thyroid meds and anti-depressants (2008) did I have my first time in decades that I felt “whole”. I could look forward to the future and feel safe. I have had “breakthrough” anxiety/depression in the winter months ( 2009-2014) which lasted a short time (2 weeks) once I got back on a good eating and exercise plan each time. I totally get how devastating relapses of depression/anxiety are because I feel like time has collapsed and I am back fighting the same demons, fears, thoughts of worthlessness. Everyone else around me is living effortlessly and I am struggling to “breath” and survive my day. It’s “hell” on earth but my faith, family and hope get me through each episode. I’m still trying to put the puzzle pieces together this time with my thyroid and anti-depressants. I pray constantly for God’s grace and am learning to accept this condition as a “part” of me.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Monique. Sounds very similar to mine! So glad you are back on track now. t

  34. Robin Williams is dancing with Jesus after reading this letter! Your are a blessing from God to those who have mental illness!! Much love and thankfulness to you <3

  35. Another brilliant piece Therese, you have a way of really getting to the heart of the issues that you write about and making us really feel that we are not alone. I wonder, however if I may be so bold as to add another wish to your list: I wish people knew that when you are suffering in the deepest depths of the worst that this illness can throw at a person you can’t just forget about it and enjoy your circumstances or surroundings or the beauty of a summer’s day since, when depressed, the part of your brain that processes joy simply isn’t working. This has always been for me what depression really is, the inability to enjoy the things that make a life worth living.

    1. Wow…I SO agree! I have tried to force myself to do a few things when in the “dark depths.” It ends up feeling like an out of body experience. It’s like observing from outside of myself. I once went kayaking. My thoughts were something along the lines of, “I see the blue sky, I can feel the cooling breeze being out on the lake. I know that if I was feeling ‘normal’ I would be able to appreciate that it is a beautiful day.” It’s like you said, you can’t access whatever it is within us that allows us to experience joy, or any level of pleasure. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Dear Therese

    This is the first time I have had the privilege of reading one of your articles. How wonderful. It is beautifully written and the best description and explanation of depression I have read in a very long time. Thank you so much, you are a blessing.

    I’m off to explore your website 💙

  37. hello Therese,
    my early teenage daughter has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, panic attacks for last 10 months. she is suicidal and lost all hope. though the medication and therapies are going on, they don’t seem to be having any effect.
    reading this article has given a deep insight in her condition but now I am worried…is there no cure? will she have to suffer always like through out her life?
    a very worried mom.

    1. Shilpi, I can sympathize with your daughter. The teenage years can be very difficult to get through. I have Major Depressive Disorder and have been under treatment for 25 years, (I’m 59 now), although I had the problems prior to getting treatment. Although this may be something your daughter struggles with all her life she can get help with the correct diagnosis and medications. The meds are kind of trial and error for awhile but a good doctor will find the right combination. If you aren’t satisfied with your doctor then find another. A good, understanding therapist can make all the difference, because meds only help about 50%. There are programs at local hospitals, usually group therapy that are Intensive Out Patient programs. Get recommendations for some in your area. Your daughter may need to attend these several times. After I attended one of this kind twice I am now in a program called Dialectic Behavioral Therapy. (Look up DBT on the internet.) It is once a week for 24 weeks. It is teaching mindfulness and a way to live as well as giving us skills to learn to deal with our emotional disorder. My prayers for you and your daughter. Oh, and learning to trust God and put the situation in His hands helps, too. It’s good to rely on Him.

  38. Love this! I wish that I could get all of my family to read it (I might try).

    My daughter and my dad both are fighting cancer. Just as I had no idea how complex cancer is and of all the different chemo’s involved to fight the different forms, I had no idea of everything involved with my illness–till I found your books, articles and web sites. I just thought I was weak, that I wasn’t believing enough for my healing. My depression was just selfishness and I was a bad person because of it. It was insinuated that I was holding onto it for attention…rrrrriiiiight…..because being pitied is really an ego boost!

    All that you do has inspired and encouraged me to take ownership of my illness and to no longer allow it to dictate how my day, my life, is going to go. I turned 50 this year…I have 4 grandkids….my son is turning 30 today….and we celebrated our 31st anniversary this year. I can honestly say that life looks wonderful right now and I am confident that it is within my power to keep this out look strong…because of what you are doing. (I really hope that someday to be as much help to someone else as you have to me)

    Thank you! Have a beautiful Labor day weekend!

    1. Wow. Thank you so much, Tammy. I appreciate your kind words so much and am so very happy for all your hard-won successes. Peace and joy to you, Therese

  39. Thank you Therese, your words really touched me. There is nothing for me to say. I hate depression. It is poison to the soul. I hate it from the innermost part of heart. I wish one day to help people heal themselves from this stupid disease, I am studying to be a psychologist.
    My great dream is to see depression eradicated from the face of this earth.
    I believe you are genuine and are sincere in what you are doing. For that, I would like to congratulate you.
    Thank you!

  40. Here I am looking for answers, and instead I get unexpected comfort.

    It’s been my experience that medicine isn’t the full answer for me. Unfortunately, neither is holistic healing, whole foods and supplements, though I wish it were.

    It is nice hearing validation, sometimes that is better than any half-cure.

  41. Therese, thank you! I am 47 years old and had my first depressive episode at 22. It took doctors 13 years to diagnose me with biopolar II. I’m in the midst of one of my worst episodes of depression and trying to make sense of my life. Wrecked marriages, lost friendships, loneliness and isolation, stigmatized. I just lost a man who I thought was my forever relationship. Once again, my bipolar refuses me. I have finally decided to help others. Through helping others learn that you can survive this devastating illness by putting one step in front of the other is my mission in life. Knowing that I saved a life will be my happiness. Service you called it. I know exactly what you mean. Thank you for sharing your story and for helping others manage this terrible, debilitating illness. Meridith

    1. Meridith, Think of me as a fellow passenger on this journey. I applaud you for sharing about yourself. If you can trust me, please hang in there, one step at a time, one day at a time. If you are on Meds, please be very regular with them. And I applaud you for taking upon yourself to help others. May the Almighty be with you in your needful hour.
      Arun

  42. After years of fighting and losing and finding myself falling deeper and deeper into no return I have finally comes to the realization that I need help. I started searching online and found your words—thank you for helping me open the door to understanding it! So many truths and so many thoughts are mirrored by your insight. Each day I awake with a new battle—the day to conquer. so much pain i can’t escape. How do I rid my life of the self-hatred, the losses, the failures that will eventually take my life. I don’t want to end it, I just don’t want to exist and fortunately I have so much to live for; my children ages 12 and 15. It is the reason i am still alive today. Ten years ago I beat cancer—that was easy. This is impossible. i don’t know where to start, but i know how it will end if I don’t do something. How did i get here? I wish I knew!

    1. Hang in there, Bill. I know how hard it can be. Are you currently taking any medication for your depression? It can be a real life saver.

      Lisa

  43. I have only just read your article now. What an amazing lady you are, such insight you have into the feelings of depression. In all the articles I have read in my life nothing has articulated like you have. Every word you wrote, everyone should be encouraged to read it. Copies should be in Drs waiting rooms, in hospitals, schools, work places everywhere people are. The suffering out there is unreal. I would love my husband to read it but I know he wouldn’t. He just can’t deal with anything to do with depression or anxiety, so he ignores it. Every one just thinks oh it’s super sensitive Mary. Thank you so much Therese for a fantastic article. You are a wonderful lady. Fond love Mary x

  44. Therese…thank you for this beautiful posting and all the amazing work you do! It is so hard to put into words what depression feels like, and even harder for those around you to remotely understand. You made it possible to put those feelings into words…and I cannot thank you enough for that. Sometimes when I am in a better place feeling good, which unfortunately is not often enough, I try to imagine what it would feel like to be one of them (those outside of us) who unless they have ever felt this, could never truly understand the pain. I can see at times without experiencing something it may be hard to grasp the depth of this pain or the reality that it exists beyond our control. All we really ask for, since it is impossible for those who have not been in our shoes to get it, is just to have basic human compassion and for them to be there with support for someone they love and care about.

  45. Dear Theresa,
    I can’t express enough how grateful I am that you were able to put into words what I’ve never been able to do. I have a friend (long time) that would always say “why are you depressed, you’re retired and have so much to be thankful for”? I would tell her it has nothing to do with that but she just never got it. So, after reading “WHAT I WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT DEPRESSION”, I decided to forward the article to her in hopes that she’ll have a better understanding of what I (and so many others) deal with on a daily basis and finally stop asking that question. I’m in the company of so many when I say “if it weren’t for my daughter, brothers and sister I may not be here today”, that some days the pain is just too hard to cope with. So, for the grace of God go I and the millions of others who share in this dabilitating disease.
    God be with you!
    Kathleen (Ottawa) Canada

  46. Just wanted to mention please be careful about going on anti-depressants. I have seen it make suicidal thoughts instantly worse, even at low dose. Adrenal fatigue is very tied in to dark thoughts, and a very close loved one of mine has been 85% better mentally after being off of all sugar and fruit for more than a year, and keeping her blood sugar very stable with lots of water, lean meat, beans, vegetables, and nuts. I found Inositol (b-8) in moderate doses was a great substitute for anti-depressants at first, until the diet kicked in.
    I would gladly give my own life to see these dark temptations and sinkholes gone in the people close to me, and EVERYONE.
    Mostly though I pray that everybody would submit to God, and put themselves under His authority (he gave all authority to Jesus). Rather than worrying about whether God is loving or threatening, or whether we can be more just than Him… actually bowing before Him, repenting of our hidden places, and praising Him even in our darkest moments can turn around the whole universe inside our minds. I’m not saying that God ‘works’ like an effective pain pill, and everyone should take it. But Jesus has made this whole life and purpose thing abundantly clear. We are to live for the King, and for His Kingdom (everyone forgets that last part). We aught to get on the winning side of this War in the Unseen realms- a war that often plays out in our own minds.
    I pray for all of you. In Mathew Jesus refers to the ‘gates of hell prevailing’ (or not prevailing): “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
    I’m sure we can all agree that ending our lives is a sure form of ‘Hell’s Gates’ prevailing. If we would build together as He ordains…how would my life be different? How many lives and faces would I have back?

  47. What do you do when every time you dare to hope and try to connect with people you find yourself being abused…again? What if every person you try to reach out to makes plans with you only to stand you up? What about when you have no friends, are in a foreign country because the person you moved over with abandoned you, you have no home or family to return to and can’t find work? How do you find more hope? Where do you find the strength to get up and try again when everything in the world has told you, you are not welcome here? At what point do you accept you don’t fit in and the world doesn’t want you. What if it is 20 years later and the thoughts of suicide are still daily….at what point are you allowed to end it without being considered selfish? Isn’t it more thoughtful to remove your misery from the few people who know your name and allow those that are happy to be so without your mood sucking the joy out of the room? I’m so tired.

    Resilience is not something
    you are born with
    it is beaten into you
    a will to live
    on the days
    hope drowns you awake.

  48. Your blog and specially this one is really amazing. For the first time I have come across something on depression that actually resonates with me and that is soothing. Because being completely alone in this can be difficult at times.

    Robin William’s suicide affected me. I couldn’t get out of my room for two days and didn’t go to work. Chester’s death has affected me even more. Because like so many others, I found Linkin Park’s words were familiar and recognized the feelings inside me. I found comfort in their music, words and voice. It shook me when I found out about Chester’s suicide.

    I have been battling with depression for around 20 years. Most days I think about death and dying. I have no will to live and I think of suicide almost every day. I find it hard to not give in. For the last few days since Chester’s death I have been through a number of emotions and feelings. I realized in the end that this is my reality. I cannot run away from it and it will never go away.

    For the past 15 years I have tried everything, therapy, medication, yoga, exercise, meditation, retreats, religion, praying, rituals. After every experience I would feel all better. After a few days I would realize I was not. In the last few days I realized I was always lying to myself because I wanted desperately to feel not-depressed. I wanted to feel enthusiastic about life. I wanted to feel the will to live. I always found life meaningless and tried to find purpose and meaning. But no matter what I do it seems meaningless and a voice says inside my head “what’s the point?”

    Yesterday I wrote a note to myself. I told myself I am not that person who is always enthusiastic about life and who loves life and I never will be. I have depression and I do not know what the mind of a non-depressed person is like because I will never have that. I will always be like this. There is never going to be a point to anything, no meaning, no purpose. I will have to live every day by creating a purpose and creating a meaning. And every day I have to struggle to not give in to the impulse of killing my self.

    I found your blog today and read this line “The most difficult thing I will ever do in my lifetime is to not take my life.” and I thought this is me. I told myself I will have to keep pretending. I will never be able to tell this to my family or friends. No one understands this. They will try to help me get better. But what they cannot understand is that I do not need help. There is no help. People around me would be extremely surprised to find this out about me because I am a successful person and I never sulked in my depression. No one knows how much of my energy goes in to keeping that “normal” appearance. No one knows how much energy goes into just getting out of the bed in the morning. How all I want is to lie down in a dark corner and stop existing. Stop Existing! Many people would be scared. I hinted about my feelings around some of my family and they were scared because a lot of people around me depend on my strength. And I feel this responsibility to not breakdown for them. But I do feel that some day the impulse might become too strong and then I will have to give in.

  49. Wonderful article. Very eloquent, so on target. I too suffer from a rather extreme form of depression. And being in the business of psychiatry and psychiatric research, I am very motivated to solve “the riddle.” An extreme challenge. By far my greatest. That said, I am half way home. I use myself as the “guinea pig.” I say this to let others know that there is H-O-P-E. I have dedicated 100% of my life to helping others find the truth. It is not a “weakness,” as so many believe. You have either lived it…or you just don’t know how it is. Beyond words. Though your words are truly remarkable. Bravo!

  50. I healed myself from Depression. Here it is: 2 years on a Labor job, gardening, and some socializing. Stayed since 2009 with no meds and “cured”…?

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