One morning, I was reading some of the feedback left on my “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are” page on Facebook. I have never been one to rest on laurels, and while I am gratified with the positive feedback so far, I want to stay connected with my readers, and address the positive reactios, as well as any issues or concerns they may have. While scrolling down the page, one post caught my attention. Stopped me, dead in my tracks. It read simply, “Depression, is real…”. I was so moved by this statement, I had to log off for a few hours, just to get my bearings and refocus.
Deliverance, the chapter in LINC that addresses depression and the stigma and fears attached to this debilitating illness, was one of the most difficult chapters to write. As I explain in the book, I too had my misconceptions (and admittedly, some misgivings) about depression. Honestly, up until the moment I realized one of my best friends was battling that monster, I had not met a single person (that I know of) who struggled under the weight of this mental oppression. Once I had been introduced to depression, I realized if I wanted to help my friend and preserve our friendship, I needed to understand what the illness was all about. So I read, I researched, I asked questions…I asked a lot of questions. I learned that there were people around me who I never would have imagined were depressed. People who contemplated hurting themselves, people who retreated from “life” for days; anything to stop the suffering. I made it a priority to educate myself so that I could support my friend, and others who simply need to BELIEVE there is hope. I am not an authority on depression, nor do I purport to have all the answers. But I do know, that people very close to me sometimes live in darkness. Sometimes I feel helpless, but I remind them… they are not alone. That darkness is not permanent. However, they have to want to “turn the light on”. They have to want to pick themselves up, and find a reason to live for. Seek out the things that matter, and realize that if they disappear, others will hurt. Kids, spouses, parents, friends. One of the greatest, most valuable lessons my mom taught me, and that I discuss throughout Life Is Not Complicated is, I matter. No matter my circumstance, no matter the opinion of others, no matter my struggle and quite frankly, no matter how successful I become, nothing should define more than my own opinion of me. We need to know our worth, our value. We need to realize we deserve happiness, love, understanding. These things mean so much more when it comes from us first!
Yes, depression is painful, and oppressive, and frightening and draining. But YOU are strong, and worthy, and valuable and necessary. This affirmation should be your light in the darkness. So I ask anyone who is drifting off, and tempted to retreat into mental despair…turn your light in. Find your way back. People who love you, are waiting. People who understand are waiting. Don’t discount what your support system can do. Turn your light on.