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I’m not an expert on depression.  I can’t tell you all of the statistics, or about the biology behind it.  What I can tell you is that it is something I deal with.


I can’t proclaim this strongly or courageously, but shamefully, with eyes on the floor, and an awkward joke to ease your discomfort.  But as I find the shadows of depression approaching, as I sense the deep sadness, the unexplained heaviness, the twinge of despair that makes me question if I should get out of the bed in the morning, I just really feel the need to share some information.

These are some of the worst things that have been spoken either directly to me, or to the masses I was in.  These are some of the most hurtful things I have ever heard, and I’m pretty positive that the speakers had NO idea of the weight their words carried.

If this can’t make you happy, I just don’t know what will.

I was at a church service awhile back on Easter.  The music was upbeat, the crowd was clapping, it was worship full of celebration.  My heart was numb, just trying to hang in there and keep a smile on my face. When the song ended, the singer spoke to the crowd.  The first words out of her mouth were the only words that I heard the rest of the day. In a full and cheerful voice she enthusiastically stated that “if that doesn’t just fill you with joy, I don’t know what will!”  The crowd clapped and I felt like I had been socked in the stomach.  My whole body felt like it was twice as heavy as it had been before and I spent two minutes trying to hold back hot angry tears before marching out of the service and crying in the car.

 I’m pretty sure that what the speaker was saying was “wow, i’m feeling so stoked by this music it’s hard to imagine that everyone else isn’t as well!”

 Maybe without the word stoked… but outside of that I’m pretty sure I nailed her intended message.  However, what I heard was “this is making everyone else happy! Except you!” and “There is no hope for your screwed up heart! If this doesn’t fill you with joy, nothing will!”  I reiterate, I know the speaker wasn’t saying this, the speaker was just super stoked (there’s that word again…).  But it took me several hours to overcome the increased weight I felt when initially digesting this.

Choose to be Positive

I have heard this one in so many ways.  You dictate your attitude, attitude is everything, choose to be happy.  This one is just down right agitating, and not at the person saying it, but at myself.  Dammit Hailey, just be happy! Just look around you at those freaking daisies in your life, smell those delicious roses! Be happy!  Why can’t you just be happy like everyone else???

I think that this thought to choose your attitude is occurring to those with depression.  I really do.  And I think if it were that simple, depression wouldn’t be the beast that it is.  Because the simple fact is that I’m really not choosing to feel like crap.  I promise!  I would rather feel powerful, and strong, full of hope 24/7.  During periods of my life I do feel this, but during some periods darkness just settles in and it doesn’t matter how I analyze my blessings, how many times I thank my God, or put a smile on my face to feel better, knowing that by doing this, not everyone is feeling uncomfortable around me.  Darkness will just reside for a time being, and rather than trying to be happy, I find it much better to wait, and thank my God, and accept that He is sovereign even when my heart doesn’t understand.  I find it better to accept my pain, and learn new ways to continue to live my life, to continue walking to my God, than to just “be positive.”  God teaches me in my pain, he holds me in my pain, we grow close in my pain.  I wouldn’t change that aspect for all the positivity in the world.

Well at least you don’t have….

Oh my gosh, please, please, PLEASE, take this out of your advice vocabulary.  This one hurts me in ways that I cannot explain.  This does not change my pain, this does not help ease my sorrow, this just makes me hate myself for having a “problem” that is not … what? I still can’t figure this out.  My problem isn’t valid? It’s not real? It’s not bad enough? What? I honestly would like to know.  I literally can’t count the number of times I’ve been told that because I don’t have cancer, or because I’m not dying, or because I don’t live in a third world country, or because I don’t _________________, I should feel better.

DON’T SAY THIS! DON’T SAY THIS!  I know, my issue isn’t terminal, I know my issue isn’t life threatening (we’ll ignore the number of people who commit suicide due to depression… I suppose) I know, my life is comparably so much better than other people’s lives.  When I am depressed, I am never ever EVER trying to say that I have it worse than anyone, so I do not understand why people are always reminding me that other people have it worse than I do.  I know! And that sucks, it makes me feel a deeper sorrow, it makes me want to cry, it makes me want to pray, it does NOT make me feel any better.  It makes me feel worse, shameful, embarrassed for ever considering that what I have could be defined as a problem.

I will say that today as I was walking, feeling that slight burden that I can’t make go away, I did have a “well at least I don’t have…” thought.  But it was not cancer patients I considered, it wasn’t starving people in third world countries.  Not because I don’t think that these people don’t have horrible problems, heavy burdens, I do.  But I can’t relate to them.  My only thought was “well at least I don’t have a more severe depression than this.”  Because I consider my case to be very mild.  I can get out of bed.  I can go to work.  I can bow my head and praise my God (not that I was able to in past depressive states).  But I know that there are people that do not have this luxury.  I know that there are people that do not have people in their lives that they can reach out to.  I know that there are people that feel a weight that is 50 times heavier than mine.  And when I think of this, I am both deeply grieved, and slightly relieved.  These people are strong, these people are courageous.  To these people I say keep fighting, you are an encouragement to everyone around you, including myself.  Thank you for living so strongly.  Thank you for showing me life and light amid dark nights.  Thank you.

If you know someone who struggles with depression, and you don’t know what to say, that’s okay.  Here are some things that have helped me:

  1. Listening
  2. Affirming
  3. Encouraging


Don’t talk, let the person process.  Don’t advise, affirm that they are not stupid, crazy, or wrong, that what they are going through is not abnormal.  And encourage.  I have amazing friends that send me beautiful messages.  I have a husband that practically tackles me in prayer when he sees the signs.

Don’t be freaked out reading this.  Please don’t think my life is spiraling out of control or that I’m an emotional wreck.  Today I went to work, I had several meetings, I taught kids about symmetry, I took my dogs to the dog park, I cuddled with my husband.  As I tell my students in class “this ain’t my first rodeo.”  God has made me stronger through each storm.  He has made my heart quicker to run to Him.  He has taught me and grown me, and despite the difficulty, I am grateful for another opportunity to grow with him, as He bends my knees, breaks my heart, and makes me into His image.

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