- Hannah Shipley
Depression and Letting People In When it Feels Impossible
Admitting publicly I struggle with depression, always feels odd to me. I guess I have a part of me that is afraid I’m letting other people down, changing the perception people have of me. But the fact of the matter is, as much as I wish I didn’t, I struggle with depression.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of my struggle with depression on social media before. I’ve shared hard moments, and also moments of triumph. To me, it doesn’t feel right to share the good moments, but leave out the moments where I struggle. It’s not a realistic view of what living with depression looks like.
I went through a really rough bout of depression a couple of years ago. I felt like I would never come out of the hole I was in. But last March I started to see some light peeking through all the darkness. And things slowly started to feel lighter. And for probably 8 months I was doing really well. I had hard days, but I didn’t feel like I was drowning in it. I honestly thought, “I’ve beat this thing.” And I thought I would never struggle with depression again. Looking back, I realize this was not the case.
That idea was quickly proven not to be true in late October, early November of last year. I could slowly feel darkness start to cover every corner of light inside me. I noticed I wasn’t keeping up with tasks that I normally do. I had little to no motivation. I didn’t want to be around others. I. Was. Terrified. I had been here before, I knew what this could look like and how bad things could get. I didn’t want to go back. Also, how would I tell my close friends and family that I was back in the same position I was in earlier in the year. My mind was a war zone of thoughts. “Will they be disappointed in me?” “I can’t do this to them again, they were here for me last time and I can’t expect them to be there again.” “It’s too much. I'm too much.” “I am a burden, and no one is going to understand.” “I’ve told everyone how much better I’m doing, what will they think when I tell them I’m not doing well anymore?” “Why am I like this?” “Did I do something wrong?”
I even did this with my therapist. I went to therapy every Tuesday. She would ask me how I was doing, and I would lie. It’s not that I went into the session with a plan to lie about how I was feeling. I was lying to myself too. I lied to myself so much that i honestly thought I was doing okay. Until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I thought if I ignored it maybe it would go away. And ironically, doing that made it get louder until I finally listened. I broke down and told my therapist I wasn’t doing well. How I felt similar to how I did last time I experienced this. I told her I was scared. I told her about the thoughts I was too scared to say out loud.
Telling her didn’t make the feelings I was having go away, but it did make me feel less isolated. I told my husband after I left therapy and a couple of my best friends. It felt better to know I didn’t have to hold it alone. No one was disappointed in me. They met me with empathy and understanding.
It’s funny how our brain can play tricks on us. When holding it all on my own, it feels so much bigger than when I have other people to help carry it. And I feel immensely thankful for the people in my life who always show up, and hold it with me.
I’m not always great at this still. Every time I’m having an especially hard day - when the tears don’t seem to stop, the weight in my chest feels like it could crush me at any second, when I wish I could claw myself outside of my body to experience even a second of relief - I still get scared to reach out. To tell anyone how hard it really is, and how I am actually doing. I get scared other people will get tired of me being sad. I know that everyone has things going on in their life. So I convince myself not to bother them, to deal with it on my own. There are countless times I miss opportunities for help when people are offering it, because I get too scared. So I am not perfect at this by any means. But usually, at a certain point, I will push past myself and reach out anyway. And somehow that part hasn’t gotten easier. I’m not sure telling someone the deepest, scariest, most hidden parts of myself ever will. But all I know to do is to keep trying. Keep pushing. Keep letting other people in, even when it feels impossible.