"Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oh, how I've been that man. Sad. Distant. Confused. Numb. Most people would never guess I suffered from depression a few times in my life. A. Few. Times. During that time, I managed to put on a "brave face", but very few people knew what I was facing. I was facing days, weeks, and even months of feeling lost and lonely. Days and weeks of not being able to eat. Over those months, sleep soon became a distant memory. Yet as a mother, I had to keep going, even when there were times it felt like there were bricks tied to my feet.
The first time I dealt with depression was after the birth of my son. I was 19 and pissed I had let myself get pregnant. I had SO much I wanted/needed to do and here I was with a child. I had very scary thoughts and didn't know why I was feeling the way I was because no one had ever talked to me about postpartum depression, so I faced this hell alone. I was able to get past it, but each subsequent pregnancy I dealt with it.
Another time I faced it was when my husband and I were thinking about ending our marriage. I had moved out and we were living separate lives. Sad, separate lives. During this time, I had to get medication because I could not get out of bed. Unfortunately, I had to get out of bed because someone had to pay the bills.
And that is one of the hardest things about depression. So many of us have to work and not wanting to function isn't an option. My best friend told me I was so Pollyanna during that time. It was the medication. It caused me not to have ANY emotion. Everything was "meh". I stopped the medication, which is NOT something I recommend, but for me I hated the way it made me feel. I turned to my faith to help me and God put so many amazing people on my path to help me, so eventually I was able to get out of my own way.
The thing about depression, for those suffering, there is no end in sight. It is difficult to describe what it is you feel. So, you often use words like sadness, despair, and emptiness. You really CANNOT describe it in words. It's different for everyone. Mine was a sense of anxiety, numbness, and dark thoughts. On repeat. Over and over. That's when you slip deeper and deeper into this black hole and it becomes more difficult to get out.
You are probably wondering why I am telling you this. It's because I know the symptoms of someone being depressed. I know how it feels to be depressed and feeling like no one cared. I challenge you to take a harder look at those closest to you. Many of us hide it well and if one person would have asked me if I was REALLY ok, I would have probably told them the truth. We are so programmed to ask people how they are doing, but do we REALLY 1) care and 2) want to know.
Today is World Mental Health Day. I challenge you to look a little deeper and care a little more. People you don't even know are counting on you.