I’m fine.

“I wanted to talk about it. Damn it. I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. I wanted to shout about it. But all I could do was whisper, ‘I’m fine.'” — Unknown

Many of us have come to know that the phrase, “I’m fine” means many different things depending on the person and the situation. People say it when they don’t have time to chat. People say it when they don’t feel like getting into the excruciating details of their days. People say it when they don’t want anyone to know they feel like they’re dying on the inside.

Depression comes in many shapes and sizes. It plagues those who have fought through life’s worst circumstances and it haunts those who seem to have a perfect life.

My journey with depression began when I was 15 years old. I was in a constant battle between accepting my identity and conforming to who society thought I should be. That still small voice inside my head grew louder and louder every day telling me I wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t deserve love. That no one would even notice if I was gone.

Over the course of the next couple of years, I put my family through hell. I transformed into a person a didn’t even recognize anymore. I vividly remember one night where I was home alone. That voice in my head had driven my to the brink of insanity, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t sad or lonely or tired. I was completely numb. All of the sudden, I noticed blood beginning to pool in my bathroom sink.

That’s when I knew it this was a war I couldn’t fight on my own any longer. Now, the way my family found out about my depression wasn’t ideal. My mom didn’t find out from me, but honestly, I’m not sure I’d still be here today if someone hadn’t reached out to her without my consent.

Here’s the thing: No depressed person every wants to admit they’re depressed, especially not to the people they care about. It’s not because they’re ashamed or embarrassed. Despite the fact we’re hurting ourselves, the last thing we’d ever want to do is hurt someone we care about.

If a loved one is struggling with depression,

Don’t try to rationalize it. Don’t try to find the root cause. Don’t chalk it up to a “bad day.” We don’t need you to understand. We don’t need you to fix us. We just need you to listen.

You need to realize how important your actions and words are. I know that seems like common knowledge, but this journey is going to be frustrating for the both of you. You’re probably never going to be able to understand that every breath we take, it feels like we’re drowning. You’ll never be able to comprehend that we literally cannot fathom having to get out of bed another day.

You’re going to have to be patient, though. Depression isn’t something that will ever go away completely. I would love to be able to say that after I went to therapy, everything was sunshine and rainbows all the time. But it doesn’t matter how far ahead I seem to get or how happy I am, depression always catches up eventually.

If you’re depressed,

Know that you aren’t alone. I know that it feels like the weight of the world is crashing down on you. I understand that it feels like no will ever get that you wake up every morning living in a body that wants to survive with a mind that wants to die.

The next time you pick up that razor or that knife, or reach for your drugs or the bottle of alcohol sitting next to you, take a minute. Take a deep breath. And remember that there is someone is this world who loves you and who wants you to keep living. And when you can’t think of anyone else, you can think of me. I love you and I want you to keep fighting.

If you haven’t reached the point where you’re ready to tell your friends or family, that’s okay. There’s no shame in calling the suicide hotline or texting a crisis intervention specialist. When you constantly hide your battle and hold everything in, you let that voice in your head win. So, let it out. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be pissed off. It’s okay to not feel anything. But I promise, once you start to talk about it, it will get better.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Textline: Text HOME to 741741

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