Editor's Note: We received this letter, from the 'front lines' of the battle with depression, from a reader who has a message for others: don't give up.
I struggle with depression and anxiety.
When others ask me about my mental illness, I try to explain it as seeing the same light as everyone else, only darker. I say how everything that made me happy earlier stopped having any value. I tell them that I felt like the dark was consuming me and taking all the light with it. Sometimes I just say I felt sadness because that's almost the right word, though it's not exactly how I feel. What I felt is an emptiness that is extremely heavy. I felt like I didn’t care about anything anymore. And that’s the feeling of being depressed. What about anxiety? In my opinion anxiety feels like caring too much about everything and seeing even small obstacles as if they are impossible. This combination makes it hard to explain having both depression and anxiety – it's a mixture of a lot of different feelings.
I took me a long time to tell my parents how I was feeling. When I did, they helped me find a psychiatrist, who prescribed medication. I have been taking medication for almost two months now and I feel relief as I get a little better every day.
When I was finally diagnosed I started trying to tell friends about the way I was feeling. Over time I started talking more openly about my depression and anxiety and was surprised to learn that there were other people feeling the same way. Some of them told me their stories and I was and still am here for them. I've found that helping others made me feel better. Plus, it made me feel that I had someone I could relate to. I have support from my friends and family and though I really appreciate it, I always thought I was the only one struggling with my symptoms. When I reached out to others and learned they had similar experiences, I started accepting my illness much more.