Column – The battle with depression gains awareness during October

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

My eyes blinked open as a new day began. I turned off the alarm and stretched as I prepared to exit the bed. The stretch to loosen my joints from a night’s sleep reminded me of the pain in the center of my chest. I winced and grabbed the knife protruding from the center of my torso.

I couldn’t remove the painful object, and I knew staying in bed wouldn’t be helpful, so I began my day as usual. I prepared for the day and got dressed for work. I went to my car, shed a few tears, said a prayer, and drove to the office.

“Smile,” I told myself as I entered the office, forcing a grin upon my face. I greeted others with a happy “Good morning” and worked through the day without anyone knowing about the pain that seared through my being. I had hidden the knife well.

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The knife in my chest was not, of course, a literal knife. It is, however, a good description of how I felt that day. I have battled depression for a long time, and depression landed a good hit on that day.

I share this brief story for two reasons.

First, October is National Depression Awareness Month. It’s a good time to remind those who have never battled depression that there is no stereotypical look for those who face depression. Not everyone who fights depression lies in bed all day unable or is unable to participate in life. Many who fight depression are hardworking individuals who hold a steady job, volunteer for charity organizations, and otherwise contribute to their society. Many fight the battle silently, and you would never suspect that they are working beside you with an unseen wound.

Next, I hope my openness with my battle can encourage some who face the same enemy. Not everyone will understand what we face. There will always be misunderstandings about what we fight, but that doesn’t mean these false ideas are true or that no one wants to better understand the battle we face.

In the same way, don’t let the misconceptions of some make you think that you are weak because of the battle you face. It’s the opposite. Those who battle depression but continue to work and live good lives are strong. Not everyone would put in a full day’s work with a knife in their chest! Not everyone will understand, but we cannot allow the misconceptions of others to define you. Stay strong and continue to fight.

I’ve battled depression for decades. I’ve written many columns chronicling my fight and heard from others who went through similar things. Nevertheless, I continue to learn more about my battle and the battles that others face.

This October, I encourage those who battle depression to stay strong in the fight. You are valued, you are loved, and you are needed. I encourage those who have never fought this terrible monster to continue to learn about the battle and to support those who do.

The suicide and crisis hotline is 988.