“Feeling Depressed” & “Being Depressed” is different

Photo taken by Mellyssa A. Diggs

Depression can feel empty, like nothing at all. If someone opens up to you about being depressed, don’t say, “I’ve been sad too!” Listen.

When I feel depressed, I am able to find a root cause now. Sometimes that cause is obvious, like the pain of mentally confronting life’s inequalities. Sometimes the cause is smaller, like not getting enough sleep or not being able to do the things I want to do. Regardless, it is still a challenge.

Depression is not the same.

In addition to having an explanation, in times when I’ve felt depressed, it has always been temporary. Addressing the root cause, or granting myself some time to process, allows for the depressed feelings to pass.

Depression is not the same.

There is power in language. It allows us to connect with the experiences and emotions of others. But the inherent dangers of misunderstanding cannot be ignored.

When we misunderstand and misuse words surrounding mental illness, we minimize the experiences of those living with them.

When we minimize those experiences, it can leave people feeling unwilling to seek or unworthy of receiving help. Most of the time, I’m very misunderstood because they can’t see the symptoms.

Consider it like this: If you are a person living with depression and the people around you are frequently saying they feel depressed, it can seem like the experience of depression is something people face and “push through” on a daily basis.

In reality, the experiences of someone who is depressed and someone who feels depressed are vastly different. The former can sometimes be healed with time, while the latter can require professional attention, including therapy and/or medication for relief.

It can be hard to know what you are facing when in the midst of the pain. As someone who lives with tenuously controlled depression, when I feel depressed, I also feel afraid I am entering a depressive episode.

What I do understand is that whether you are feeling depressed, living with depression, or somewhere in between, your feelings are real, and they matter.

You deserve help if you want it.

If you are seeking a place to sit with your feelings and contemplate your threshold between feeling and being depressed.

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