It’s a common misconception: people with depression are just people who don’t want help. They like to sit at home and think about how miserable they are. They like to complain about how people just don’t understand them. They like to mention to everyone just how depressed they are to get attention. They’d rather stay depressed than do anything to get better.

I used to think that treating my depression would be as easy as walking to my nearest hospital and finding a therapist. When therapy didn’t work, I believed anti-depressants were the magic pills that could finally cure me. It was only after months of trial and error and real talk from my doctor that I realized treatment for depression was just as hard, if not harder, than being depressed.

When you’re depressed for so long, it becomes a safe space.

When you don’t remember the last time you felt truly happy or the last time you felt like a person with a personality, depression is all you know. I would love to feel normal but the road of recovery is one you can only travel with hope and resilience. Hope that you have a shot at happiness and the resilience to keep walking as you find yourself still experiencing symptoms of your depression.

There’s a basic understanding that a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle could alleviate the symptoms of a mental illness and yet, so many of us stick to our bad habits. We know isolating ourselves in our rooms, eating our feelings or refusing to talk our loved ones won’t help us feel better and yet, we do it. It’s familiar and it’s easy.

However, people who do get help can still experience depression.

It might seem crazy but you can’t easily fix something that has no clear solution and is still stigmatized.There are numerous forms of therapy and while choosing the right type is useful, it helps to also feel a level of trust with the professional you are working with. On the other hand, medications are more likely to be adjusted and changed to help a patient more effectively. Anti-depressants are not one-size fits all. Some cause side-effects like nausea, weight gain and anxiety (yes, anxiety).

In my experience, only after a couple of months can you be sure that the medications are actually doing their job. If it’s not helping you then you can choose to raise your dosage, combine it with some other medication or just switch to a new one. Some people choose to stop altogether. The hard part is there really isn’t a correct answer here. You make a choice and you live with it, never knowing if it was the right one.

Recovery is uncomfortable

For me, recovery meant learning to talk about my feelings and crying in front of people. It meant talking about my depression, something I carefully hid from everyone I knew. Recovery is still happening and I still dread going to my doctor, knowing that I can’t just say “It’s fine” to everything. I also tried to be more honest about my mental illness and yet, I still find myself talking about just how tired I am but totally fine. Don’t blame me; I’m a work in progress.

Depression is often thought of as a lifelong battle. Recovery isn’t about making it go away but learning how to live with it. Yes, someone can have the help they need to recover and still feel depressed. Depression is something that we can learn to cope with but we can’t completely control. Sometimes, I leave my bed and I socialize, and I still feel down. It happens. It’s depression.

About Fatou Balde

Fatou Balde is a floater in life, currently dipping her toes in communications and psychology to see what she might pursue as a career. She's been depressed since 12, and desperately trying to get better since 16.

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