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Feb6
2017

Depression Is Not a Weakness

By Aabye-Gayle D. Francis-Favilla

When I find myself lying in bed beneath the invisible weight of depression, I often call myself lazy. It is unjust, especially because the misdiagnosis leads to the wrong set of antidotes. Depression is not sloth. You don’t tell someone with a broken leg to go for a long run in order to feel better. You give her a cast and crutches. You let him sit down. There is a difference between not wanting to and not being able to (even if the reasons are hard to articulate or prove).

For me, depression is a state of being rather than one sensation or feeling. It becomes my environment, my world. It consumes me and every ounce of energy I muster. Like a dark forest, it utterly surrounds me—and the way out is hard and long and confounding.

My depression is like water. It is at once tiny and great. Small, because there are few things it can’t penetrate. Massive, because its end always seems an infinite distance away. I constantly feel that I’m in the middle of it—making no progress towards its end. And then one day, and very unceremoniously, I awake to find I’ve left it behind (or it’s left me). No matter how dark and vast it was, it always ends eventually. Perhaps God lifts me out of it like an emotional search and rescue team because I never recognize the approach of the end, just that it’s behind me.

When I’m depressed, I feel as though an unreachable part of myself is broken. But the cause of my discomfort won’t show up on an MRI or x-ray. The pain is at once real and intangible—oppressive and insubstantial. I perceive it, but I can’t point to where it hurts—because there is no one place that aches. The pain is nowhere and omnipresent.

Depression is an exasperating enigma. It feels like a puzzle everyone else has been able to solve. It is frustrating because it’s like being restrained by something that isn’t there at all. It feels like starving at a buffet or remaining in a jail cell after being declared innocent. It is sitting in a dark, deep hole with a ladder, but you can’t see—let alone reach—it.

Depression feels like a lot of things, but there is at least one thing it is not.

Depression is not a failure, just as winter is not a mistake among the seasons. Denying depression is like expecting summer to supply snow or autumn to bear blossoms. And just as the world has rain, wind, cold, and sun, your mental health exists on a vast spectrum. Certainly some states are easier to experience while others are more challenging to endure, but all of them have rights to your time and attention.

Too often depression gets minimized or glossed over because it hasn’t earned the respect afforded to most physical diseases and injuries. But just because I can’t point to exactly where it hurts, show you how I’m broken on an x-ray, or prove I’m sick by taking a blood test doesn’t mean I’m OK or that it’s all in my head. I mean it is all in my head, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Not everything that resides in your mind is imaginary.

Depression is not a weakness. In fact, it takes great strength to fight it. For someone who is depressed, even the easy parts of life require effort. It is hard work to reside in the darker parts of yourself. It takes great courage to admit you’re feeling broken or to seek help.

You can read more of Aabye’s work here.

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Comments (13)

  1. Polly

    You write beautifully! Your article is spot on. Thank you for having the courage to share your experience publicly.

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  2. Monica

    Definitely need to read this. Thank you.

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  3. Kathy Rose

    Well said. Thank you!

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  4. Paula

    Thank you for this blog. I am currently within the grips of depression and I appreciate your words and your efforts to demystify this terrible disease.

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  5. Mary Ann Koslasky

    Your description of your depression is perfect. There is never a sunny day. Just heavy clouds that suck the color and love out of life. When it lifts you suddenly see the blue in the sky, the red roses, the love in your significant other’s eyes. You can smile. You can laugh. You can FEEL again. And you pray it lasts. It doesn’t always, as we know.

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  6. M

    I’ve been debating on commuting suicide. I have depression, but no good reason for it. I guess I just have it. And that thought makes me even more depressed because everyone else seems to have a good reason to why they’re depressed, and i have none. I want to get help, but my parents can’t know. Maybe it would be best if I jumped.

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    1. Becky Ebert

      Please don’t harm yourself. Please don’t injure yourself. Please don’t take your life. Please stay. You don’t need a reason to have a mental illness. And you don’t need to fit into a certain category to seek help either. There is help out there. There is hope out there. If you can, and we hope you can and will, please talk to someone. Trained counselors are available via the Crisis Text Line. You just have to text TWLOHA to 741-741. We need you to stay. There’s good in this world and you are part of that.

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    2. Alice

      Hey M,
      Please don’t do it. You are not alone.

      Reply  |  
  7. Pingback: Happiness Takes Courage | Write Away

  8. Matt

    Great blog. I just finished reading If You Feel Too Much, I really enjoyed it. It lead me to this website and to this blog. I can relate to basically everything that was written above and have accepted that I do battle with depression at – it comes and goes. It is nice to hear am I am not alone in this and that other people do feel the same.

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  9. Marsha

    Since I have lived with depression at least twenty-five years. I agree it is not visible but is a disease as much as cancer. Most people do not understand it and do not want to listen. I have many great years but going through a relapse and do not get why. Seen my Dr. and done things to help but the depression is there. I have ask God to help me get back to myself. I take one day at a time.

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  10. Alitza

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been struggling with the idea that I have depression because I am blessed, I realize that nothing in my life is so bad to warrant it. For the first time I feel like if my mom read this she’d finally understand what I mean when I say I’m not okay and I don’t know why.

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    1. TWLOHA

      Alitza,

      Depression does not care if you are blessed or fortunate or in good physical health or anything. Please know that you do not need a reason to feel what you are feeling. It’s valid. You are valid.

      We’re glad to know that you can talk to your mom about your struggles, it’s important to have the support of loved ones and the space to be honest. We hope that you will find a way to express yourself even further and reach out for help if you need it.

      Would you email us at info@twloha.com? Our team would be honored to know more about you and offer you some support.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

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