Depression is like...falling.
Depression is like falling into a deep, deep hole.
In this hole, you are surrounded by complete and total darkness. The floor is dirt. The walls are cement.
In this hole, you fall right in the middle and everything around you spins like a tornado. It is not quiet; it is not peaceful.
Directly to your left, there is a ladder to the top. You are not prisoner in this hole but, still, you feel like you will never escape.
Directly to your left, there is this idea that if you just take one step up, you might be able to take another. But you're stuck. You feel broken and exhausted from the fall, and your limbs won't move.
At the top of the hole, there are people telling you to 'cheer up,' to 'just get out and do something,' to 'stop feeling sorry for yourself.'
At the bottom of the hole, you feel like a failure, like there is something wrong with you, that you're a burden, and that people look at you differently now that you're at the bottom of this hole.
When you sleep, it is not for long, and, when you wake, you remember that you need to face another day in this deep, dark hole. What will you do? How will you pass the time? Will you try to climb the ladder? No. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.
The next day, you try to climb the ladder. You get halfway up, but something stops you and you think, this is useless. You fall back in. Back on the ground, you gaze at the top. You think, even if I get up there, I won't last long. I'll be back here again in no time. You resign yourself to stay in the hole forever.
Then, one day, you wake to see a person climbing down the ladder into the hole. They reach the bottom and reach out their hand. You eagerly, albeit hesitantly, grab it, excited for a lifeline, but afraid they aren't actually real. This person lifts you up and guides you up the ladder. Not halfway this time, but all the way to the top. You look around. The top of the hole is bright. There is no longer a tornado spinning around you. Your limbs feel light.
As you walk with this person, you look over your shoulder to see the opening to the hole become smaller and smaller and farther and farther away. As the days go by, flashbacks to your time in the hole become less frequent. You breathe a little easier. The person that helped you out of the hole sticks by your side. You feel supported. You feel safe. You are not alone.
I felt inspired to write this blog post early on Sunday morning. I was thinking about writing more about my struggles with depression on my blog, but wasn't quite sure what to say or where to start. This is the result. In this case, the person who pulls me out of the hole is a metaphor for treatment (therapy), but it could mean a friend or family member, too. If you struggle with depression, feel free to interpret it however you like. If you don't suffer from depression, I hope this helps you understand how a friend or family member might be feeling if they are suffering. Remember, it's never helpful to tell someone who is struggling to 'just cheer up.' Believe me, it's never that easy. I wrote this post to start a conversation, to help end the stigma. Depression is a very real disease.
I hope you will share this post if you are in any way inspired or moved by its message.
As always, thank you for reading!