Don’t fear falling to the ground, for what is broken can be rebuilt

This editorial column by Maria McCoy was originally published in the most recent print edition of The GRIP.

I can’t say that I have suffered depression my entire life. I have had events occur in which I needed some sort of anxiety or depression medication for a short while, like the death of my father, but up until now, I have never had to deal with clinical depression before, not in myself or in any family member that shared their struggle with me.

With that said, I can tell you with certainty now, being the parent of a child with clinical depression is painful. It is nearly overwhelming. There are days I want to rail and scream and hit things because I cannot find a way to help my child. It hurts because I have no way to escape this and I know that’s how she feels as well.

It feels a whole lot like drowning. The difference between her position as my daughter and my position as her mother is that she feels a whole lot like drowning, and I feel a whole lot like the person who sees her child drowning and struggles to get out of the boat, but never quite makes it to her.

As a parent, this creates feelings similar to panic attacks because you can see what needs to be done, but have no way out of the boat to accomplish it. What they do not tell you about depression is much more important than what they do tell you, and since these things are not always said, I will do my best here to give you these words.

Depression is common. Statistics show that 350 million people suffer from depression. It is normal – you are normal – and because so many others suffer alongside you, you are also not alone, even though depression will make you feel like you are.

Depression has physical manifestations. It absolutely does, and the more you lay in bed, the worse those manifestations become. The everyday things you need to do will seem insurmountable.

Because of the pain in your body from isolating yourself and lying in one spot for too long, even washing your hair will seem too much.

Depression makes your sleep cycle difficult. Sometimes you will feel like you sleep forever and other times you will experience insomnia, and because of this, you will feel like you are teetering on a tight rope.

People will start to annoy you just by talking to you, and others will annoy you because they ignore you. You are not crazy. That is a normal response to depression.

Depression is a liar. It will make you feel worthless. It will make you feel shame because you will snap or be rude to someone you really love, and then later you will regret it.

Depression will make you feel guilt because you should be doing something with your life. Depression will make you feel like nobody cares, but I am here to tell you, you are wrong.

Depression is a liar. You are not obligated to do anything in your life except be a good human. Everything else is trivial.

If all you can do today is wake up and get out of bed to use the bathroom, you are doing what you can. Do not feel guilty.

People do not understand the debilitation of depression, and it is not your job to make them understand. It is their job to empathize even when they cannot understand because that, too, is part of being a good human.

There are times when you will feel like you are losing your mind, but you are not. Think about a Jenga game. Each block is removed and added to the top of this leaning tower and we never know which block will cause us to fall over, so we have the sensation of being in pieces, always worried for the next block to be added and always worried we will fall.

This is a good analogy because it does not end there. Once you do fall and all the pieces are on the ground, you can build yourself back up again. People who do not suffer depression have the same process.

Their pieces may look different, but they will fall and get back up over and over just like you. Don’t feel as if you are at the end of your rope just because you are in pieces. That’s the perfect time to create something new.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts. Whether you are the one who suffers depression or the loved ones who are trying to understand someone else’s depression, God never loses sight of you. He is with you in the midst of the most difficult storms, and when the waves are crashing over you, His eyes still see you. Only He can calm the storm and calling out to Him must be the first step.

Lastly, please seek out a counselor or a mental health doctor and do not feel that you are wrong for doing so. So many people fail to seek out help when it is most needed because of the stigma associated with it, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.

If you had too many groceries to carry, you would seek out a grocery cart, right? So, do not feel guilty that you cannot carry all your burdens. Go get yourself a grocery cart. Ω

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