This is part 3 of a three part series on depression. You can find the other two parts here:
The worst part of getting better is it makes you feel like you made the whole thing up. I was diagnosed with severe major depressive disorder, potentially bipolar II and anxiety. That has not changed. But my mood has. I’m feeling better, so I must have been faking the whole depression thing. Because how can there be such a difference in mood? How can I go from non-functioning, curling up on the shower floor sobbing to functional applying for jobs and taking care of myself daily? It must have been fake. Even though I remember the feeling of wanting to kill myself. Even though I know my family has been through so much with me, and they have actively seen a change, not of someone making something up, but of someone getting better. It’s bizarre, and almost self-deprecating. But I have to believe I’m getting better.
I am stronger than I was yesterday. I don’t break down over minor frustrating things anymore. The other day my car was stuck in a snow bank. I called my dad and he talked me through getting out. But what I didn’t do was start crying, screaming, and freaking out so hard that I would have been unable to do it, like I would have done just three or four months ago. It’s a major improvement.
I’m lucky. I had access to therapy and medication, a family that could support me when I didn’t have a job, and a very strong support group. I know not everyone has that, or even can afford that. Some people can’t afford medication or therapy, they can’t afford to not have a job, even when the thought of going makes them so sick they want to die. The state of mental healthcare in this country is pretty atrocious. When it works, it really works, but we fail so many people daily, and treat mental illness like it’s not a big deal. “Just get over it.” “Be happy instead. Go outside. Take a walk. Do yoga. It will make you feel better.” But it doesn’t work like that. When you’re depressed, you can’t just “get over it” and sometimes you can barely bring yourself to get up in the morning, let alone go out and do something. Yes, doing things does make you feel better for most people – but the point is you literally can’t do them. And it kills you, both literally and figuratively.
Something has got to change. And it’s up to us to fix it. Mental illness is real, and it’s a disorder you can recover from. We just need to put more effort into helping people recover.