Things I wish my family and friends knew about my depression

by Mohamed Maoui 3 months ago in depression

I love you, my medical condition shouldn’t change the way you see me

Things I wish my family and friends knew about my depression

I just arrived home. Today, I was supposed to go on a school trip, I registered for it two months ago and was looking forward to it. I was awake all night since yesterday I fell asleep the whole day, so my sleep pattern is completely messed up now. The school bus is supposed to leave at 8.30 am, but the event organizers urged us to come earlier. I was telling myself that if I want to get better, I should socialize more, and leave my room more. So, around 7 am I shaved my beard, and dressed well, leaving my room in a complete mess. I arrived at the gathering location at 8 am, and more people started arriving. I looked at their faces, many seemed really different, they seemed normal. Many were with their families and friends, and even the few ones who were alone seemed to be in peace with themselves. I started hesitating whether I should participate in this paid trip that I waited for since a while or just go back home. After 10 minutes of hesitating, I decided to go back home, and here I am changing my clothes and wearing my pyjamas. This is one of the easiest ways to explain how depression is affecting me and I wouldn’t wish it to my enemies.

One of the symptoms of depression is withdrawing from people and isolating oneself, mainly because people suffering from depression face a hard time explaining what they are struggling with and often, people who never experienced mental illness before can’t relate to them and may react in a detrimental way without even realizing.

As a victim of clinical depression, I wanted to speak on behalf of everyone struggling with depression by addressing a letter to my friends and family telling them about the things I would have been thrilled and grateful if they knew about my disease before, as it could have made a huge difference. The same words can be sent to anyone having someone they love and care about, who are currently fighting this cancer of the soul called depression. Understanding this disease might help improve your life and the one of people you love, who chose to disclose their medical condition to you.

Dear mom, guardian and family members,

  • Depression is not just about being sad. Depression is about feeling that the whole world is against you, it’s physical pain, a sleepless eye, an empty soul, a frequent crying without a reason, and a constant emotional pain that seems endless.
  • Depression is caused by stressful life events, childhood losses, life trauma, seasonal effects, for instance, a long winter, medical problems, faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and specific medications that may cause depression. All these factors interact to bring on depression. Therefore, please don’t blame yourself for anything. You didn’t do anything wrong, it is my struggle and I would appreciate your understanding and support more than ever.
  • Healing from depression is never linear. It takes constant work and energy to get out of it. Please be patient with me.

Dear friends,

  • I don’t expect you to understand the way I feel, as the emotional pain caused by depression is hard to explain. I don’t expect you to fix me, or collect my broken pieces and put them together, instead, I would appreciate a hug from you, a listening ear, and just the fact that you can see the pain through my eyes, that’s all.
  • Understand that my thinking is twisted and that a lot of ideas in my brain are generated by my depression. People suffering from depression, are in the lowest point in their life, and this can make them very vulnerable. So before making the decision to give up on me, take a break and come back to talk to me at another time when I am enjoying a very short time of relief before the storm comes in.
  • Don’t judge me if I decided to take medication despite the bad side effects they have. I am not crazy to make this call, I just want to get better, and sometimes trying medication is the only chance to start getting a bit better. Instead, please accept my choice, and encourage me to take my medications on time as delaying them make me sleepy the whole day, encourage me to change the prescription if the side effects are so intense to tolerate and convince me to keep hope and that even if no medication seems to work I would still eventually find a more suitable prescription that can alleviate the depressive symptoms and help me manage my life in a better way.

Dear strangers in the street and everyone who barely know me,

  • Depression is an insidious illness that needs medical attention to be treated. It’s not a weakness or a fault. Don’t blame me for having it, I suppose you can’t blame someone for having cancer, so why would you do so for someone with depression?
  • Don’t try to use words such as Man up, it’s just in your brain, be strong, it will go away easily, why you are sad if you have everything. and other related words because this is not helpful at all. Instead, try to show respect and acknowledge the trust I put in you by disclosing my suffering to you.
  • Stop discriminating against me. My disease shouldn’t be the reason for not including me in your activities, not letting me contribute equality to a team project, or making me feel less than enough. This kind of behaviours can make us feel left out, and destroy the self esteem we have, and end up feeling sorry about ourselves.
  • Depression doesn’t have a specific look, you can’t tell if a person is depressed or not by looking at his face. Look at how beautiful Jiah Khan, a Bollywood actress looks in this picture

This picture was taken while the actress was going through the hardest phase of her life, she committed suicide shortly due to clinical depression on the age of 25 few days after. So please do not expect me to cry for you to demonstrate my disease. Many people are great at hiding their disease. You can’t tell if someone is struggling with depression or not unless you see them from the inside, and this is why it’s very important to check up on your friends and people you love from time to time, and to ask twice about how they are really doing.

  • The first think that we wish you can do for us, is to stop calling us depressed people, and call us people suffering or dealing with depression instead, as this seems less harsh. Victims of depression already consider themselves to be less than normal, so labelling them will just make the situation harder.
  • That having suicidal thoughts doesn’t make us weird and that is something automatically triggered by our disease. Instead of blaming us for having these ideas, and making fun of that, try to remind us of our worth, because while having depression, we forget our value and we need as much love as possible.
  • People with depression often lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and sometimes find it difficult just to get out of bed so please don’t try to push us to go hiking with you, but most importantly don’t give up on us if we prefer to stay in bed without doing anything.
  • That depression doesn’t come alone, it usually comes with other mental disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, eating disorder and other mental issues.
  • Brain structure and its activity appear to be slightly different in people with a history of depression than those who have never been diagnosed with the illness. This dramatically affects the cognitive functions of the brain manifesting in difficulty of concentration and memory issues.

Dear all,

I love you, my medical condition shouldn’t change the way you see me and other people in a similar situation. I hope you keep loving me, and never give up on me, because I will not do so.

depression
Mohamed Maoui
Mohamed Maoui
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Mohamed Maoui

Human Rights Activist | Mental Health Advocate | Blogger and graduate student in bioengineering.

See all posts by Mohamed Maoui