I’m finding out that it’s OK to not be OK

Every morning I take two little white-and-green pills.

This pill keeps my grey-cloudy days at bay and keeps me from wanting to sleep for days at a time. This pill helps me to care, rather than feeling indifferent to most things.

This pill helps cope with my depression.

I’ve struggled with depression since high school. For awhile, I didn’t really know what it was. I thought it was normal teenager hormones to cry at the drop of a hat — for anything both happy and sad. I thought it was normal to feel kind of numb.

I wish I could say my journey was easily solved with therapy and medication. But it wasn’t.

I walked through some very dark days when I was not capable of helping myself. I went on and off my medicine because I wanted to be normal.

One of my most challenging seasons was when I was living with some friends in downtown Madison. I knew I needed help, but I physically couldn’t bring myself to go to my doctor or to call and make an appointment.

If you haven’t walked through a season of depression, this sounds silly. Why couldn’t she just pick up the phone and call? Why couldn’t she get in the car and drive herself to the doctor?

I don’t have an answer for you. Most of the depression struggles that I face don’t really make sense.

That day, somehow, even though I was over 18, my Mom set up an appointment and had my cousin take me to it. I remember sobbing and needing her to sit through the whole appointment with me. I remember getting in the car not caring that I hadn’t showered in days.

Depression isn’t always like that. I think a lot of people assume it means sadness. And for some, it might.

For me, I feel like a grey cloud is hovering above me — hence why I call them “grey-cloudy days.” I feel dark and like rain is pouring down over me wherever I go.

Usually I feel numb and indifferent. I lack caring about everything from the way I look and the way my kitchen looks to my performance at work and my relationships.

Sometimes it’s crying for no reason, even if I don’t feel sad. It’s tough to put into words all of the emotion and feelings involved with depression.

For the most part, I hide my depression well. For years, I have been really good at pasting a smile on my face and pretending like everything’s OK. Part of me thinks this was a coping mechanism. Sort of like faking it until you make it.

But those who know me well can see past that smile. And now, I try to share my struggle with others.

This is not easy. It’s not easy to admit that I need help. It’s not easy to admit that I need to rely on medication. It’s not easy to write this post and share this dark part of my life.

But maybe this post can help someone who is feeling the same way or help someone understand a loved one who struggles with depression. Maybe it can facilitate a much needed dialog around mental health.

If you have someone in your life that may be struggling, I have a few suggestions.

First, avoid asking, “What’s wrong?”

Most of the time, I don’t know what’s wrong. That loaded question is often frustrating, and I know many feel the same way. Instead, be there to listen or simply sit in silence.

Another way to help is to plan something — maybe a froyo date — and make sure your friend who is struggling shows up.

Sometimes that hardest thing is having the motivation to get out of the house. Having something to look forward to is also super helpful for those bad days or weeks.

Finally, understand that sometimes it’s hard or impossible to communicate.

If someone you know who is struggling doesn’t answer your phone call or respond to your text, don’t take it personally. Some days it’s hard to even get out of bed and shower, let alone respond to everything that comes through the phone. Even if that person loves you, know communication can be a daunting task.

Above all else, know that it’s OK to not be OK. In a world that demands instant satisfaction, it can be hard to accept that both medication and therapy take time.

I am someone who struggles. I am someone who relies on medication to help me cope. I am a face of depression.