My Depression Doesn’t Have a Silver Lining

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Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15, and it’s been my steady companion through life ever since.

I felt depression’s debilitating effects through high school and college. It interfered with my social life, my academics, and my physical health. It made entire years miserable.

I tried a few different medications to help manage the depression. Some worked better than others, but none of them provided a perfect solution.

Finally, in my twenties, my depression seemed to subside. I thought it had disappeared, and after a few years, I almost forgot that I ever had a problem. In retrospect though, I realize that I was just masking it with a decade of heavy drinking.

Once I got sober, it quickly became apparent that the depression was still there. Now it’s a challenge that I’m back to dealing with on a daily basis.

I’ve taken steps to manage my depression — seeing a therapist, exercising, and more. It’s not as bad as it was at its peak, but some days are still better than others. Some days my life feels pretty normal, and some days I can’t bring myself to do much of anything but lay in bed.

Through the good days and bad though, there’s one thing that remains a constant: depression sucks.

My depression has never been a positive force in my life in any way whatsoever. It has been nothing but miserable and debilitating.

Depression is bad — it feels like the most obvious point in the world. Why then, do I see so much media that suggests otherwise?

Movies and television tend to treat mental illness in one of two extremes: demonizing it or glamorizing it. Neither of these extremes is very relatable to someone actually suffering from depression.

When glamorized, depression is written about as if it is a source of creativity and motivation; characters learn valuable life lessons from their depression, and it ultimately ends up leading them to success.

I hate these portrayals because I think they mislead and harm people who are suffering from mental illness. It’s cynicism masquerading as optimism.

To me, celebrating my depression would just be a way of deluding myself. I accept that depression is something I will have to deal without throughout my life. It can be managed, and it can go into remission, but there is always a chance for it to reappear or worsen. But my acceptance of depression doesn’t mean that I have to pretend that it’s a good thing.

In order to confront my depression head on, and have the best chance of managing it, it’s important for me to understand that depression is an entirely negative force in my life.

When I am successful or creative, it is despite my depression, not because of my depression.

I experience no benefit from feeling sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Depression doesn’t unlock some secret part of my brain; it just cripples my thinking and motivation.

I haven’t been inspired by my depression, and I haven’t learned any valuable life lessons from it. My depression isn’t cool, and it doesn’t make me any more interesting.

In the end, I’m actually relatively optimistic about depression. I do believe there are steps I can take to manage it. I don’t think it will ruin my entire life. But, I am definitely not happy to have it, and I will never celebrate depression.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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