The idea of being depressed is oftentimes used casually, like when your friends are “depressed” because they have nothing to do on a Saturday night. To many people, though, depression is not so simple. It is a disease that gains control of its victims’ mental states. While I do not suffer from this illness, I have been exposed to it since the day I was born: my mother suffers from depression. And it has always been much more than a casual emotion for her.
Having depression does not mean you are constantly sad and gloomy. In fact, it is very easy to live a life that seems completely normal to outsiders. For almost 14 years, I was under the impression that aside from a few colds and run-ins with the flu, my mom was a healthy woman. Then one day I saw her taking all sorts of pills in her bathroom, and she explained to me exactly what depression was. She didn’t tell me with reluctance or resentment, but was very direct. She said it was not something I needed to worry about. I trusted my mom and really did believe everything was going to be okay. I probably could have gone my whole life without knowing she even had it. But depression is one of those things that once you know about it, it’s suddenly everywhere you look.
I started noticing how early my mother went to sleep every night, yet how tired she still was during the day. I noticed how easily she would get upset at little things my sisters would say. I also noticed that those common colds were a little too common. She caught everything that passed through our house, and it started to scare me. Restlessness, frustration, and weakened immunity are all common symptoms of depression. How was I only noticing all this now? I constantly felt guilty for not being there for her all those years, and for not knowing how to help. Despite her assurance that she was okay, it is difficult to watch someone you love so much struggle.
Depression is an internal disease and an internal battle, which is why it can be so dangerous. Luckily, my mom understands the importance of talking to a therapist, as well as taking the right medications. She is therefore able to live a normal life very happily. Some people never find a way to do this. If there is anything my mom has taught me, it’s that you don’t always have to be the strongest person in the room. Sometimes accepting help is exactly what you should do—it is in no way a detriment to your character. I wish my mom didn’t have to deal with depression, but everyday I admire her courage and outlook on life. Over time I’ve come to realize that the most helpful thing to do is to let her know that if she ever needs me, I will be there for her.