It’s difficult to live with depression when a large segment of society doesn’t even consider it an illness. I can’t count the number of times people have asked me why I don’t accept where I am in life and just be happy.
Some have suggested that I explore depression as a spiritual quest to find out why I was “chosen” for this particular illness. I can tell that others feel I have something wrong inside and if I would just fix it, the depression would go away.
I have a medical illness. It’s called depression. I am not in spiritual crisis. When someone implies that depression is my fault and that through “inner exploration” I can find peace, it makes me burden and the blame on me for not being able to manage depression on my own.
I’ve never heard a spiritual guru say that having diabetes is a sign of spiritual death in that person. How about children with cancer? Are they spiritually deficient?
Why are people with bipolar disorder, which would sometimes be linked to depression, be singled out as being responsible for their ailment while other physical illnesses are treated with more compassion?
As I write this, I feel my anger rising. That’s okay, though. Because anger is healthy when it’s justified. Is it not?
If my symptoms were due to a spiritual or emotional crisis, they would always be present. They are not. I don’t have these symptoms when I am feeling well.
My depression is as a result of my brain reacting to certain triggers. I have an illness with very well documented symptoms that people with this illness all share.
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How then do I deal with someone who insists that if only I changed myself inside then all would be well? As a matter of fact, I have tried this. For many years. All to little success.
The only thing that has worked for me is treating my depression the way I would if it were a physical illness because that’s exactly what it is. If I then have the desire to explore the spiritual world, that’s fine; I can do so with a clear mind.
Again, I have a medical illness. It is called depression. I am not in some form of a spiritual crisis
I will continue to move forward in my own healing and remind myself that suicidal thoughts during a crisis or paranoia when in a new relationship, are all as a result of chemicals released by my brain-not some kind of character flaw on my part, despite the fact that sometimes I know that I push myself too hard to become what people expect me to be.
The truth is I’m not just afraid of being depressed (though I am); I am afraid of letting people down and being judged for my actions.
Perhaps it would also be good to note that I don’t like to think that I am afraid of what other people say. I like to pretend I’m a rebel (in part, I am) and that emotionally, I’m tough as nails. In reality, I’m a bit of a softie and open to getting my feelings trampled. But I’ve come to realize this; we often create fears based on past experiences and blow them out of proportion. By believing that our fears are real and irrefutable, we crush ourselves under the weight of their burden.
Fears are not always grounded in reality. Even when they are justifiable, these aren’t the things that define us. We create our reality with what we tell ourselves and how we react to things. How we rationalize these things. Even though I know this, no one knows how hard I have to work to keep going every day. Sometimes all I want to do is break. Sometimes I want to throw up my hands in the shattering strain of it. But I decide to fight every day.
We all have a path. It may be that you do agree that depression is a spiritual issue and I completely respect your opinion. And authors have the right to state any views they want, anyway they want. But in the end, this is my story.
By Lucky Hassan