This piece is part of in-Training Mental Health Week.
I have always toyed with the idea that I may have depression. Numerous times I looked over the various depression diagnoses and their criteria. Ultimately I settle on the idea that my thoughts and emotions and struggle were not severe enough. Everyone experiences sadness. Everyone experiences grief.
When do you draw the line between the normal sadness of the human experience and the gripping sadness of depression? I have felt as though I have straddled this line for many years.
It is not until this past week that I have finally accepted my depression. I am depressed. What do I mean by my acceptance? I mean that I finally believe that I have depression. Depression is so much more than a list of symptoms or criteria to be fulfilled. Depression can truly exist underneath the smile and love and care that I bring to the world each day.
I’ve never known if my sadness was enough to take that step over the line into clinical depression. But here I am. I am depressed. I want to say it over and over again because it is a relief to finally let myself be who I am in this moment. I am depressed and it is okay. I can now take full ownership over my story and my life.
People may doubt me. People see how high-functioning I am. I am a medical student. I have friends. I get out of bed most days. I smile and laugh and I am friendly and outgoing.
But they do not know that the depression is suffocating. My heart is heavy. I feel so sad that it is hard to breathe. There is a voice inside telling me day and night that I am worthless and unlovable. Worthless and unlovable. Day and night.
This voice is a lie. I am exactly who I am meant to be in this moment. I am enough. I am loved. I have purpose.
It is okay that they do not know this. Because I know this. It is my story, and I own it. This depression and other’s opinions — they do not own me.
Editor’s note: The author’s identity has been withheld by the Editorial Board due to the sensitive nature of the article.