January 5, 2017

“What’s on your mind?” The Honest Reply from Someone who Suffers from Depression.

I logged into Facebook a couple of hours ago in an attempt to distract myself from what I was feeling.

As usual, the first thing I saw was the same box and the same question, “What’s on your mind?”

I wanted to write, “I am so tired that I want to pick up my soul and go out on a vacation somewhere outside of my body.” But I didn’t write anything.

Just like I say, “I am fine” or talk about something else when someone asks me how I am.

I was scared of what people may think and because I didn’t have an apparent reason to be depressed. I haven’t had a break up, I haven’t lost a loved one or whatever other “socially accepted” reasons to be depressed.

Depression doesn’t have a reason.

What comes after events is sadness, which is a normal human consequence. Depression is an inevitable, invincible spiral of darkness and emptiness. And because most people do not understand it or have never experienced it, they unintentionally end up adding up to the burden.

A day ago, I bumped into a friend of mine twice. The first time when he asked how I was I said, “quite well.” The next time I asked, “Should I answer honestly or casually?” Which he responded, “as you may like,” but then moved on before I got to say anything.

I wanted to say that I was depressed and feeling suicidal—but he was already 10 feet away.

However, I did try to talk about it with another friend. I opened up about my feelings through tears while explaining to her why I couldn’t work. She thought I was making an excuse for my irresponsible and irregular behaviour and that I didn’t have enough character. I wanted to say that it is not like that. Depression is something that one struggles with through out, it’s something we learn to live with or live in—but I didn’t.

It just occurred to me a while ago that this wouldn’t be the reaction I would get from everyone had I broken a leg. I wouldn’t have been called irresponsible or weak. Instead everyone would have been overly concerned and sympathetic. “It’s weird how others will show more concern for any part of our body before showing concern for our minds.

I think the perfect life is a lie or to put it in a more politically correct manner, what we portray as the perfect life is a lie. The perfect life is not happy selfies and high statuses, it is also the struggles and the sufferings. And when we don’t talk about them, we tend to dehumanise ourselves.

I wouldn’t have posted it out loud here, but I think by not speaking about it, I am reinforcing the stigma around depression. So here I am writing about why I, and many others like myself, have been disappearing from work, university, family and friends.

We don’t quite feel like ourselves.

Rather than a tangible and physical reason, we have this invisible, emotionally subjective thing, which is not letting us get out of our bed or communicate properly. We didn’t sleep the entire night, but in another 20 minutes or few hours, we’ll get up and make the effort to drag ourselves out into the practical world.

We’ll be properly dressed up, like any other day, and we’ll talk about things and gigglebut inside of that facade is someone who’s struggling to barely do the normal everyday human things that we ought to do.

If you come across us today, try being a little kinder. Maybe we’ve been overly sensitive lately and even the tiny little things that people are saying are impacting us massively. Try thinking about what may have happened to us rather than what’s wrong with us.

And please, know we have spent the night sitting at the edge of our bed trying to keep ourselves from taking this life, but have shown up in the day to give ourselves one more chance. Yet, the way you talk to us may take us back to that edge. For once, think before you speak and check whether your words have enough compassion in them or not.

Before you deem someone as weak, incompetent or a loser, please take a moment and remember that it is all too human to be struggling and suffering.


Author: Saad Nazim

Image: Tareck Raffoul / Facebook

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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Saad Nazim