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Dec 2, 2016
Reading the Fibromyalgia letters made me think I should write one like it, only talking about Depression. So I just now did.
And here it is:

I have spent more of my life depressed than I have spent being not depressed.
Most people don't think that is possible, but believe me, it is.
Many people don't think a child can be depressed, but believe me, they can be.
Most people say things like “What does he have to be depressed about?”, not realizing that the external circumstances of a person's life often have little to do with their depression.

Many people would not even believe me if I tried to tell them how depressed and despondent I am, because I have learned to hide it well. I hide it because no one wants to be around someone who is depressed. Not surprisingly, they find it depressing to be around someone who is acting or talking depressed. Or they are afraid it is catching. Or they want to help but they can't help.

Some people think that one can just "CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY". Some of these people will say that they simply "choose to be happy" and it works for them and so anyone can do that. And so, it is the fault of the person who is depressed if they are not happy, because they could just choose otherwise. This happens to be a common pop psychology buzz these days.
But, really, do you not think that if it were so easy.....if it were possible just to make a decision and things would change, that I would have done that years ago?

The truth is, over the decades of my depression I have made thousands of decisions to change things. I have “decided to be happy”. I have done affirmations. I have learned to meditate. I have exercised like crazy. I have spent a lot of time in nature. I got a dog. I studied Hatha Yoga so extensively that I qualified to be a yoga teacher. I tried a few kinds of spirituality. I danced, chanted, and prayed. I spent hundreds of dollars on self-help books ( and read and faithfully attempted everything they said), and thousands of dollars on counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, and various kinds of healers. I have taken herbs and tea and prescription drugs. I have studied my dreams, taken courses, joined support groups, and written journals. There is probably no approach to curing depression that I have not tried, and since I am a person who never does anything half way I have given each thing a pretty good try. As an example, I did not just try meditation for a month – I tried one kind for two years twice a day and a different kind for a year once a day. I even tried giving up. More than once. But I turned out to be such a spectacular failure at suicide that I reached the conclusion that I had best not try that again. With my luck, the next time I would simply end up paralyzed from the nose down or something and have to live a few more decades like that. Things can always get worse.

Sometimes something seemed to help, or actually did help for a while, and because deep down I seem to be a die-hard optimist in spite of everything I always believed that THIS time, I had the depression licked. But sooner or later the depression always came back again.

This is something that I live with every moment of every day, but most people around me do not even know it. I have to get pretty close to a person before I will even start to admit the depth and consistency of my depression. For one thing, it scares people away, as if it were catching. For another, let's face it, who wants to hear about it? And often people think that they need to try to help, but have no idea how to help and even though they are well-meaning sometimes the things they say are at best useless and at worst cruel.

I keep my appearance tidy and clean and my house tidy and clean. I go to work and I pay my bills. I have to do these things because I have no one who would do them for me; I am entirely on my own and have only myself to rely on. I can smile at you and chuckle at funny things and look as though I am doing fine and having a good time. This doesn't mean I am doing fine. It means that I learned very early in life to hide what is really going on inside.

Another thing is that depression affects people differently, and each individual handles it differently. One time a person, someone who happened to have MS, told me she did not believe that I was depressed because her sister had been depressed, and had spent weeks not getting out of bed or eating or washing, and since I looked fine I must not be depressed. I said that for her to say that to me was as if I were to say to her that I did not believe that she had MS because she could walk and talk and I once knew a man with MS who couldn't do either of those things, so that must mean that she didn't really have MS. Me – I can't afford to spend days in bed because no one but me will feed the dogs and pay the bills, and I am so used to being depressed that I learned a long time ago how to “pass for normal” in the world, so I drag myself out and do what has to be done.

But that doesn't mean it is easy. There is a whole stigma around depression and anxiety and all other mental illnesses. There is, even in the 21st century when science has proven otherwise and everyone should know better, still a prevailing attitude in this society that if you Just Tried Hard Enough you could overcome it. There's a reason for this. People do not want to admit that it is not a character defect – that it is possible even a strong person is helpless to overcome it, because that is too scary. It is a lot easier to blame the victim than to admit that it could happen just as easily to you.

But the truth is that many depressed people are stronger and more courageous than anyone knows. Do you have any idea what kind of strength it takes for a seriously depressed person just to get out of bed in the morning and do the things that other people find easy to do? And all the while not letting on to the world how challenging it is just to get through a day?

And sometimes, it is too much, and I don't get out of bed, or I break a date that I had to go do something with someone, or I fail to show up at the party because I just can't do it that day. When that happens I appear flaky, but I am not an unreliable person. I am simply a person who is struggling every single day with the invisible disease of depression, and because of that I experience life differently from people who are not depressed. I don't want pity or even sympathy, and because I hide it I often don't get understanding either. I know that that is due to my own choice to hide it, but believe me I have learned by experience to take this choice.

Speaking of choices, that is another thing. I have taken routes in my life that people do not understand. I am intelligent and capable and many people, especially relatives, have not understood why I never had a good career or ”made something of myself”. But it's not because I am lazy or don't care. It's because most of my life just getting through the day took up so much of my energy that I really could not manage law school, for example, in addition.

This writing doesn't have a fancy conclusion. I am not asking for anything except for people to think for a moment about what I have said. Maybe if you know people who are depressed, you will be less likely to tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps or snap out of it. Maybe you will be less likely to get mad or end a friendship if they cancel a date. Maybe you can offer just to listen, without judgment or trying to fix them, if they ever want to talk. Maybe you will realize that this disease can happen any time to anyone, regardless of how their life appears to other people. I hope that it never happens to you.
Hi Sunkacola,

Thanks for the letter. I do understand that it is something that you can't change or just snap out of it.I agree that although mental illness treatment has changed significantly over the years, there still is a stigma out there.Even some doctors just don't know how to talk to a person.

It's sad because many people wont mention to their drs for fear they would be rejected or put down for their inadequacies.

I always want to try and help because I don't want to see anyone depressed,but I guess like u said there's not always an easy solution.

I appreciate your perspective.It will help us all to think twice when talking to someone about Depression.

Thank you!

I had a huge lump in my throat reading through your letter. So many things that are so familiar, yet when going through them one feels so lonely. So alone in one's struggles. Yet, there are so many of us out there....

I don't want to go into detail here, but I suffer from a personality disorder and major depression. My depressive state is like yours I suppose. It is there almost 24 hours 7 days a week. It can lift off for a while unexpectedly, or it can come down even harder unexpectedly. But we smile on through don't we? We fight, we fight....I have worked full-time while I was fully depressed. But I have also had months where I could do nothing.

Mental illness comes in so many shapes and forms. That is what people have to understand. I will admit that in the past I have doubted the depression of others as well. I was depressed myself, had been in and out hospital, and could barely function, but these people were loud and (loud about being) depressed. I did not understand that. I still have trouble at times I will admit. I suppose people use the word 'depressed' a bit too casually as well.

The example of the MS patient friend of yours....I guess it is yet another proof that having a chronic illness does not necessarily make you a person with more sympathy, I have witnessed it time and time again. It is sad of course, but it is what it is.

It is often a lonely fight, but it is very important to reach out and talk to people who will understand no matter what.

I wish you lots of strength and positive vibes.
Tears in my eyes sunkcola....i dont want to elaborate in detail but i understand....worse still I have admitted as such to a few close people and instead of support i have previously been met with harsh words like its my fault or just 'stop it' much the same attitude as i have had about fibro...or people stop calling so like you i have learnt to be quiet and suffer in silence...and put on a cheery voice and act so funny people love to off load their worries on me because i have always been compassionate and very understanding..yet when ive needed it no one ever responds the way i instinctively would or sees me that way..they cant get past that i was always capable high achiever and apparently you cant be that and hurting badly inside...which just isnt the case.

Now 10 years with fibro i am not that person either and it has caused family and my partner to hurt me more because i cant do or be what they want until depression is taking root long term so i do empathise with your words.

My depression is reactive but for many its not its just part of them and like all invisible illnesses needs extra love support and compassion not less ..and definitely not stigma and blame whatever the cause.

Thanks for the post maybe it will mean someone will get the support they need and not be judged.
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Wow. Thanks for those responses, Sagey, Willow, and vickythecat. I really appreciate them. I makes me feel just a tiny bit less alone to know that there are those out there who can understand what I am saying. thanks again.
Hi Sunkacola,
I have had a lifetime of depression. I grew up with two parents who suffered with depression, I now have many cousins with Bi-polar as genetically there is a strong link. While I do not have bi-polar I am on the spectrum and have suffered addiction problems and depression. I used to talk about it freely as I had so much information around me and growing up with parents it was normal if that makes sense. As I have got older I talk less as I agree there was a stigma now it is more out in the open there seems to be levels. Like your example of MS. Depression has no levels it is bad for every person who has it. It is a struggle everyday and I thank the medical industry for developing medications that help. Watching my father in particular suffer in the 70's early 80's with limited medication was no joy. I really feel for you having no one I count my blessings everyday for my family we are always there for one another supporting each other. I couldn't imagine it on my own.You truly are a strong and courgeous person and I am glad you are still here to share your story. Thanks for the post.
i wish i had support like you say Janette both things fibro and now depression as constantly being treated at best like neither exist or at worst blamed shamed and humiliated for fibro made my fibro worse and i ended up with anxiety and depression ..... no one wants to hear about it and odd times ive tried to reach out to family i just get ignored and can feel they are not interested and cant wait to get off the phone so unless i pretend i would have no one left!

My circle has shrunk so much because of fibro anyway so the close people left in my life i needed more..not for pity or sympathy but to respect all i did do and my contribution and huge effort to carry on so normally not criticize what i cant do to make their life better. These blows of which there have been several major from my partner had such a bad effect both my fibro and now my mental health have taken long term hit...and tbh life seems pointless.

I dont feel connected to anyone..yes if i put on an act im accepted but only if i comply to being who they want..and who i was but sadly she is gone.
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Hi Willow,
I felt so sad when I read your reply. I know what it is like to have people not believe you. I have struggled with friends like that also and have lost them. But I now look on it with an open mind. It is there loss I know who I am what nature I have, what beliefs I live by and no matter what condition I have I like and am very proud of the person I have become. You didn't chose fibro none of us did. You shouldn't be down on yourself for having it. Anyone who grieves you about it is not worth having in your life. I know life can be lonely but you have never come across on this forum as an uncaring, inconsiderate or deceptive person in fact quite the contrary. I have found your replies��full of love, warmth and understanding. You are a valued member on this forum and that is something you can always bank on.
Thanks Janette strange isnt it i do have compassion and understanding in spades..even for those who havent had it for my healthy years i wasnt a push over but always seemed to have a deep sense of what people needed in times of hardship and stepped in to help...yet even though many of my family are generally kind my capable exterior wrongly prevents them seeing or believing whats going on beneath. I had good sense of self and confidence but oast years its rather been bashed out of me..and with fibro now severe its hard to achieve things to give me my own sense of self worth.
I always look forward to your replies. Full of useful tips and you still do have a very strong sense of what people need. Even if you don't always see your worth in having that insight and skill you are a remarkable person. Most people never develop this. Pain constantly wears everyone down over the years understandable just wanted to let you know you are a worthwhile and lovely person and made me feel very respected and cared about on this forum. Looking forward to continue to read your replies on other threads. Big hug not too hard that it would hurt Xx
Amen to everything you've said. Struggled with major depression all my life. finally seeing a phyciatrist and phycologist. Takes a lot of guts to admit that I needed help. Felt ashamed about it. Glad I've decided to follow through with it. Thanks for the post.
Thank you, Grandpa.

It is true that even these days there is a stigma attached to any kind of mental illness.

I am trying to gain courage from a very brave person who has a wonderful (and extremely funny) blog. She is a person with multiple mental health issues ans a few not so easy physical ones as well and she is out there in the world writing about it for everyone to see. I am trying to get to the point where I am not so afraid to tell people just flat out: "I did not go to the meeting because I had an anxiety attack", or "I did not make it to the gathering because I was too depressed to leave the house". Most of the time I just say I did not feel well, which is true, but then the next time they see me they will say that I must be "all better".....and of course, I am not!!

I wish that it were easier for people like us just to talk about it openly. It is not as if it is our fault. It is not a character defect. And in many cases, including myself, it is not for lack of trying to change it that we are still depressed.

I hope the psychologist is useful to you. Let me know, OK?
Hi, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder long before my doctor can make heads or tails with fibromyalgia.

It's true that depression hits different direction for many people, I've been true many different phrases with depression my self. I don't just jump to choose to be happy , in fact I was hitting with suicided thoughts too many to count both awake and dreams. It got so bad I developed panic attack disorder which was the turning point for me. I've thoughts of death so many times I lost count. My heart started to grow numb to the thoughts of living, while pains keep increasing . With fibromyalgia taking over I knew my brain is no longer mine... I can only keep thinking logically but I can't apply to my physical reactions. I know what's right or wrong for me yet I can not make my body understand. How to I convince my subconscious mind? I have no idea. Therapist Have to opposite effect on me, my dad has phd in it but he's the last person I want to talk to because he's too close mentally to my physical depression I have to separate my thoughts as far away from him as possible. He understands 100% so we haven't talk for many years . Knowing because of him I won't commit suicide no matter what that's good enough for him. Yes I was a strong person before enough to admired my self for, but accepting that now I am not is the hardest thing to do. I am worse than the scum , the bottom feeder, the worthless human being , I'm so disgusted at my self can't even look at my own reflection in the mirror without cursing my self to death. My heart feels like it has been grinding by the meat grinder so slow each pop of the muscle make me want to blow my brains away over and over. Then my panic attack kicking in, and my mouth feels dried like I was leaving to die in the mid of the desert. I can't breath , my heart is about to explode. Nobody gonna save me. Who could exactly? I took all the medicine from what my doctor gave me daily but it hardly takes effect. Day in day out over and over. Nothing..... I was so scare and terrified, I've already turn agoraphobic cause it felt like the whole world including my own body is turning against me. Till one day I've had enough, decided to have a physical intervention with my body, so I jumped in to the bath tub full of icy water. The pains was so extreme I completely forgot about everything else. And from that time my life has changed . I've found that I can snap my physical depression in half with the right tools. Most people don't know jack when talking about "fighting back" . They think of doing things that most normal minded people think it's positive physically and everything will be solved. Wrong Wrong wrong!! cause right now my body and parts of my own brain don't follow me any longer. I have to learn how to teaching my own brains and body to follow my lead again . Like a wild animal where there has to be a way of communication or else they will attack and bite me over and over. Everyday I've found a different ways to listen and redirect my brain function in the way that harmless to my self. I'm not yet an expert and I don't expect my body and brain to suddenly act like a normal human being. Things take time. But for me that's a hope with strong possitive results. I will listen to my craving , understand, research for better way, and modified my diet just for my need only not just what everybody said I should , listen to my doctor with my own backup research. I don't always just jump in the icy water when things get bad , mostly of the time just a threat of ice bath to my self can have quite a good effect. My brain seems to remember well. It's like a shock therapy to me. A shiver in cold, every parts of my brains on both depression and panic attack screaming NO. Just like my hyperventilation with fast breathing too much oxygen I have to low it down and some people goes for paper bag, I goes for orbit gum by chewing gum making me breath in normal pattern , slowing it down , and stop the dry mouth from escalating to panic attack. I've found chewing gum works on many anxiety problem like my bf have Anxiety attack disorder , and he said taking it out on the gum chewing really help claiming him down. Little that I know it helps my early sign of panic attack which is dry mouth too. So I don't doubt yoga, running, etc idea cause I thing it's great if you can still goes for it. But I believe that our body and brain have voices of their own if only you'll listen, trying to train andphysically communicate with it. ( not verbally of course ) Sounds nuts I know! But it works for me. 😊
Sunkacola, I need to respond to your depression letter but even after coming back to read it several times I still can't find the words. It is so real and true. It's still resonating in my bones.....and probably will for a long time.
Thank you, Peaceandquiet. I am glad that it resonates with people. It is something that I have thought, and occasionally tried to say to people, but should have written down years ago so I am glad I did.

I think maybe I should send it to the (not) friend who recently said to me "I guess you just don't want to feel better".
lol (laughing now, but when that person said that, it made me cry)
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