This is a guest post by Mark R. He does a great job of addressing many of the misconceptions associated with depression and articulating the chronic nature of the beast–helping loved ones and friends who haven’t experienced a mood disorder understand the illness better. He ends with hope. And I want to reiterate — there is always hope.

Sometimes depression is not what most people think it is.

Sometimes depression doesn’t make you hide under your bedsheets or eat ice cream from the carton or weep in your therapist’s office, or any of the other tropes from movies and TV.

Sometimes depression is not easy to define or even understand; less like a big, dark ominous cloud and more like a tense conversation that you overhear but can’t make out the words, only the tone of the voices. Sometimes depression feels like a cliché, and sometimes it’s as unique as you are in the universe at this very moment.

Sometimes depression doesn’t stop you from going through your day and trying to manage your responsibilities like everyone else. Sometimes you seem normal on the surface, even when you’re carrying the burden of depression alone in your soul.

Sometimes you wish you didn’t feel compelled to hide the despair within you, to show a brave face to the world and then withdraw to a bathroom stall at work, quietly sobbing because so much is overwhelming and there’s no relief in sight. Sometimes there are no tears, only sluggish emptiness.

Sometimes depression takes a vacation from tormenting you, maybe an hour or an afternoon, occasionally for days. Sometimes you feel real joy in those moments, and you’re able to laugh and love and you wonder if this is how most people experience life. Sometimes you even forget about the darkness, until it subtly creeps back upon you. Sometimes it occupies a small corner of your life, and sometimes there is nothing else but depression.

Sometimes depression doesn’t overwhelm you with grief. Sometimes it’s a little voice that whispers to you, “you’re not worth it.” Sometimes that voice doesn’t hurt you at the moment you hear it. Sometimes it’s the 10th time, or 100th, or 1000th before you start to believe it.

Sometimes depression doesn’t stop you from being grateful for everything you have. Sometimes you can love others deeply even when you can’t love yourself.

Sometimes depression doesn’t mean you want to harm yourself. Sometimes thinking about death doesn’t mean you want to die, it means you think about what the world would be like without you in it, maybe from a fatal disease or accident. Sometimes you wonder if you’d feel relief if your doctor gave you an expiration date. Sometimes you skip over the death entirely to ponder what happens after, whether you’d leave behind a legacy or the universe would simply carry on, unaware.

Sometimes you wonder if anyone would miss you if cancer took you, if your absence would really affect anyone else’s lives, if anyone would shed a tear besides reflexive weeping at your funeral, and sometimes you fear how few of them would. Sometimes the thought of an empty funeral is scary.

Sometimes depression has companions, other illnesses and disorders and behaviors that amplify your depression and each other. Sometimes depression causes physical pain in your nerves, your muscles, your joints. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell where one condition ends and the next one begins. Sometimes you wish you knew if one is causing the others or if they gain strength by feeding off each other in an endless loop.

Sometimes depression makes you turn your back on those you love or run from the people who bring joy to your life, because you feel at your core you don’t deserve them. Sometimes you think that they agree.

Sometimes depression is all of these things. Sometimes it’s none of these things. Sometimes you are acutely aware of all of these feelings. Sometimes you know nothing more than you simply don’t feel right.

Sometimes you want people to leave you alone, because you don’t know what to say to them about how you feel. Sometimes you worry that your depression is hurting them too.

Sometimes you crave someone to hug you tight, to love you unconditionally, to encourage you and stand with you as you seek treatment. Sometimes all you want to hear is that, despite what you feel at this moment, the world is still beautiful, you’re still capable of happiness and worthy of receiving it, and the future still holds amazing possibilities.

Sometimes there is still hope. Sometimes that’s enough.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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12 Responses
  1. maria

    Mark as I read the way you describe depression I thought you were describing me as well .
    I am a highly functioning depressed person who never gives in to her moods but suffers to the core of my soul just as you described it .
    Nobody knows the black dog that lives inside of me but it torments me ,but I still go on
    Thank you so much for sharing this

  2. That was wonderful I am going to read that over and over ?❤️? the words r written with so much truth. I know and hope there help for us because it is terrible . Sometimes u need that big hug and someone say I will be there for u and understand . Trying to get through this u think at gr it came on at 34 and now 74 u would have yur degree. But God has Ben helping me but sometimes I do not listen ❤️ May God watch over all of US to fight this battle .

  3. Matt Brockman

    I get a sense of relief knowing someone understands what’s going on within me. Thanks very much.


  4. Martha

    I wish I were high functioning. There is nothing left to me. It doesn’t help that my son suffers schizophrenia and that, two years ago, he sliced his throat open with a knife, 4 hour surgery, 40 days in hospital with trach and feeding tubes. He suffered severe psychosis and got arrested. Ever since his arrest I can do nothing. I’ve lost myself, my life, everything. Cannot even function. Only thing I force myself to do is to advocate for him. I’m no good for anyone else, even myself. I find no reason to live. This is the worst depression ever. I’m in grief I’ve been told. My son is now in a residential treatment facility. It’s still very sad. I need help to get out of this awful hole of depression. Everyone around me gets mad or abandons me. No compassion or help. I feel so alone.

    1. Lisa

      Martha. I’m so sorry for all you have been through. Please consider therapy. You have to take care of yourself or you will not be able to help your son.

    2. John

      Martha, Ive just read your post, an can relate to it so mutch, In my own case my mother suffered from severe mental illness and my father was a violent control freak, growing up as a only child was both lonely and terrifying. Its the feeling of being so alone in a scary enviorment that overwelms me. Martha my heart goes out to you, as will many other peoples. Please remember that there are people although perhaps far away, im in the UK, who care.

    3. Leslie

      Martha, when I’m depressed I’m basically non-functional. I applaud the great strength you demonstrate when you advocate for your son. I don’t even function as a mom for my two adult kids when in the throes of the darkness of depression. Know that others struggle as you do simply to function and care for themselves.

  5. Lone Seidelin

    Thank you. This is me. Most days it’s so hard to explain what’s going on. Even to myself. It brings despair and frustration. It’s hard for people to understand when you seem to function. And at the same time so difficult for me to explain to others because I don’t know what’s going on half the time. Thank you for this. I needed this <3