Originally published on February 8, 2016.
When my first therapist told me that I had depression I didn’t believe her. I had too many things to be thankful for and happy about to be depressed. Frankly, I thought that I was too busy for depression, as if it was something that those who suffer get to choose.
I left her office with a spring in my step doubting everything that she’d told me. There was no way a one hour session told her that I was depressed. I refused to listen.
I went off to college and I never saw her again.
I spent the next six months unexplainably sad. There were times that I’d miss weeks of class just because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’d cancel plans that I was really excited about because there was something telling me I didn’t deserve to go. I found comfort in food and alcohol but never in friends and family.
Still, I refused to believe that I was depressed.
Depression just didn’t look like me. To me, depression looked like someone struggling to pay their bills every month, someone who couldn’t afford to eat, someone who just lost their job or got kicked out of college. Depression looked like someone who had suffered abuse, a person with no one to lean on. I didn’t fit that mold, but still it took hours to get out of bed every day and even more to shower and leave my dorm room.
There are so many narratives that tell you that your depression is not real that it’s all in your head, that you aren’t really suffering because of how good you have it on the outside. But depression doesn’t attack based on looks or socioeconomic status; there’s no rhyme or reason, it just is.
It’s been six years since I was first told that I suffer from depression and each year it looks different. There’s no one way to be depressed. Some days it looks like me staying in bed for 12 hours, other days it’s me turning off my phone so I don’t have to talk to anyone.
What I wish people would understand is that people with depression don’t need messages of “it gets better,” sometimes, we just need someone to listen.
I don’t want to be held or coddled through this. I want to be respected. I want to be talked to like an adult. I want a chance to speak, really speak. I want to answer a phone call and know that I’m going to get to talk about me, my issues, what I’m dealing with sometimes.
That doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me honest.
In February 2016, BMX racer Dave Mirra committed suicide. I’ve never heard of him before, but as I scrolled through different articles rehashing his life all the comment sections looked the same. People asked “why didn’t anybody do something?” “Why didn’t he get help” “How did his family not know?”
The answer is simple: because we’re selfish. It’s easier to talk about things that don’t matter then to talk about being depressed. It’s easier to crack a joke and smile then it is to admit you aren’t feeling your best.
Depression doesn’t look the same on everyone, it’s not supposed to. But what if as a society we stopped asking “what happened?” and “what’s wrong?” when it’s too late. What if we encouraged our loved ones to seek help, helped talk them through their feelings and supported their progress, no matter how small.
Just because you can’t see that someone is hurting doesn’t mean they aren’t. Be there for the people that you care about. Support them, tell them you appreciate all they do and mean it.
Get off your phones, stop feeding into drama you read online; and live.
You will never regret being there for someone when they really needed you, but you will regret not being there.
Struggling with depression? You’re never alone. Call 1-800-273-8255 for help.
This post originally appeared on Thought Catalog.