Just the other day, I was sitting across from a wonderfully brave soul as he shared his story with me for a piece I was writing. He poured out his experiences with no fear right in front of a complete stranger.
So many times during the interview I wanted so desperately to say “YES! I know how you FEEL!” But I knew it wasn’t right for me to do then.
He was almost in tears, and so was I.
His was a story of overcoming depression.
I couldn’t share then, but I can share now. Because I understand.
My family and friends will all agree that I am a pretty open book, and that I’m not afraid of sharing my experiences with such a nasty disorder. But sometimes I actually am, because it requires me to actually think about the way I feel, instead of just feeling that way. And we all know that thinking can definitely amplify one’s feelings.
And truthfully, I don’t know why I feel the way I do.
This is something I know a lot of others can relate to.
The unexplainable pit in the stomach, break in the heart or ache in the head.
The ups and downs — a roller coaster that oftentimes seems never ending. So many times I’ve cried, “please, let me off this ride!”
My depression has the power to impair me. I can’t hear, see, think or breathe clearly when I let it have control.
Ah there it is — that word. Control.
A word many people suffering from depression have such difficult relationships with.
And this is where I timidly climb a top my soapbox.
I have control.
You have control.
My depression is mine, and your depression is yours. Not the other way around.
My depression does not own me and I do not belong to my depression. It belongs to me.
I get to shield myself with my Heavenly Father’s love, the support and understanding of so many kindred spirits and a knowledge that my depression won’t last for forever, protecting myself from giving it the power to impair me.
Today I didn’t want to talk about how many years it’s been since I was diagnosed, how much therapy I’ve had or how many medications I’ve tried. I wanted to simply say, “I know how you feel.”
How could I be saying something that I actually detest hearing myself?
Because I do know how you feel. What I don’t know is the extent of how you feel. There’s quite the difference. I know how you feel enough to know that you feel pretty crappy. And I know enough to know that what you feel is yours and yours only, just like how I know my depression does not own me but that I own it. I know enough to hold you when the tears start flowing or when the numbness can’t be shaken. I know enough to be afraid with you, but I also know enough to be able to say “It will be OK.”
So stand a little taller, my dear friend.
Let’s make our own footprints in the sand.