When I was 15, I battled depression. I was alone and withdrawn from other people. I didn’t understand why I was upset or what was happening to me. I felt like I was the only one in the world experiencing what I was going through.
It took many years for me to be able to share my experiences.
My last post, “Depression and 15 minutes that saved my life”, brought with it a flurry of activity. Clicks, likes, shares, comments, messages and emails were abundant. Many of you confessed that you have been struggling with depression for a long time.
This did good for my heart in two ways. First, the feedback encouraged me to keep writing. Second, I realized that I was not alone in my struggle. None of us are.
Sharing my last post was scary. I enjoy blogging, but usually favor a less personal subject matter. Hitting the “publish” button was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. What if people judge me? What if they don’t care? What if I speak my deepest feelings into a void? What if I share one of the deepest parts of my heart and I am rejected?
Yet, once I shared my struggle… it seemed to open a floodgate of others who related to me.
I’m convinced that what humans want most is the cathartic experience of understanding. Our desperate longing is for the words, “you’re not alone” to resonate deep in our souls. When we face a crisis, trauma, or deep-rooted insecurity, temptation creeps in. It is the temptation of our mind to say, “I must be the only one dealing with this,” and “I can’t let anyone else know.”
Depression and fear are great friends. Fear loves to convince us of two things: “You’re alone in this”, and “it will not be okay”. But the more people I’ve met, the more I’m convinced that we are alone in nothing.
Over the course of my life, I’ve met some beautiful people.
- People with deep passions for writing, drawing, designing, creating.
- People who light up a room with their presence.
- People who know everything about their craft, because they love it.
- People who take care of others with love.
- People who are loyal.
- People who are resilient in the face of pain.
- People who have faced much trauma.
- People who have lived much joy.
- People who have been through everything.
- People who have stood by others through everything.
The World Population Clock says that there are 7.5 billion people on this crazy earth. This can seem overwhelming, when our resources are sometimes thin or when we become lost in a sea of faces. But I find the population comforting.
There are enough people out there to relate to anything you’re going through. Beautiful people who would care for you if you gave them half a chance. You’re not alone.
The temptation of depression is to give in to fear. “I’m alone, and it will not be okay,” is an addictive message. Through the seasons when I have experienced depression the most, I’ve fought against withdrawal. When I’m depressed, I want to hide. It’s tempting to:
- Ignore the small voice inside you that tells you to call your friend.
- Stay inside, cancel your plans and hope no one finds you.
- Share a small percentage of what’s going on in your life – everything but what is important.
- Take care of everyone else and try to push your own needs away.
- Convince yourself that no one wants to hear your story.
- Convince yourself that you need to suffer alone.
- Convince yourself that you are a burden to others.
- Withdraw from the people who love you the most.
These are all responses based in fear. The good news is, I have found a solution. It’s simple, and effective.
Just pick up the phone and call your friend. Be vulnerable. Say too much rather than too little. Put yourself out there. Ask someone to go to lunch with you. Ask someone their story. Tell someone yours.
In the end, I promise you that you will find someone who relates to you. Because it’s not hard. We’re all afraid, all trying to fit in. We love it when other people open up to us. It makes us feel valued and trusted. Why are we so scared to open up to other people?
You are not alone. You never have been, and never will be. Fear is tempting. But it’s so worth overcoming. Fight it, and I promise you things will get better, a little at a time. Because someone cares about you. You just need to give them a chance.