It started as a tickle in my throat. A twinge of pain in my eyes when the sun peeked through the blinds. All these little things piled up into their very own mountain, and no matter how far I climbed, it just kept getting taller.
I have always been a very positive, strong-willed person. I’m the first one to crack a joke to lighten the mood or send a quick text to let someone know I’m thinking about them. I seek joy in every situation and live life to the fullest. I have a nice, neat morning routine, a gratitude journal, a prayer list, and a million constructive hobbies. I also have depression.
You don’t randomly wake up with depression. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s like catching a cold. You get a tickle in your throat, then your nose gets all stuffy. You develop a cough and start having sinus headaches. You lay there in your bed looking at the ceiling, wishing you could just breathe. You hope it’s just allergies, yeah, just allergies. It’ll go away.
But then your body starts to ache. Every movement takes immense effort. You’re exhausted, you’re in pain, and being anywhere other than your bedroom seems impossible. You have a cold. Luckily, there’s medicine to help! But sorry, no cure. You just have to let this episode run it’s course.
The photo above was taken last night. It was the first time I’d worn that dress since my senior prom. A good friend of mine had a very classy birthday party and I showed up, red-lipped and ready to snap some pictures. But I almost didn’t go. I felt too sick to go. Like I would get my negative emotions all over the place and infect the party.
I told my jokes, took my pictures, gave my hugs, and went back home. I wiped off my makeup and my smile, put the jokes away, turned off the sparkle in my eyes and melted away. I ended last night the same way I started today. Drowning in a pool of watery hopelessness, too afraid of what people would think if I asked for help.
All too often, we don’t recognize depression when we see it. We don’t see our loved one drowning because they put on makeup and say “good morning” with a smile. We are shocked when the class clown sinks beneath the surface and takes their own life because they were JUST laughing the day before. Depression has a way of masking itself. It’s the loud laugh, the pretty smile, the kind heart. We look right at it every single day and never even know.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I have close friends and an amazing church family to support me through these moments. I didn’t know that when I stepped into the sanctuary this morning, I wouldn’t be able to hide anymore. I didn’t know the tears would finally break through and I wouldn’t be able to stop them. I didn’t know people would feel led to seek me out and actually be there for me, not just say they are.
If you suffer from depression or love someone who does, I urge you, reach out. And if you can’t reach, speak up. And if you can’t speak, let them see the silent tears on your face. Let them know you need them and they will come to help you carry the burden. I promise you, they will. If I’ve learned anything from the last couple of days, it’s that our struggles only have power over us if we keep them to ourselves.