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10 Things People Without Depression Take for Granted

I feel music deep in my bones; I always have.

I would rather have a conversation with a rabies infected mutant gecko in Mandarin than talk to someone who says, “I don’t really like music.”

You don’t like music?!? Are you a Google-controlled robot from the future sent here to destroy all that is good and beautiful in the world?

The first time I heard Linkin Park’s last single, “Heavy,” I pulled over and cried. When it ended I pulled it up on Spotify and cried again. And sitting here listening to this acoustic version, well you can guess.

So often my tears are the knowing nod of my soul. Someone else gets it and I’m not alone in this.

The chorus lyrics read:

I’m holding on Why is everything so
heavy? Holding on to so much more than I can carry I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down If I just let go, I’d be set free Holding on. Why is everything so heavy?

Critics blasted the song declaring it to be the groups worst release in their 20+ year career.

Just a little over five months after the song was released, Chester Bennington—the lead singer of Linkin Park—lost his lifelong battle with depression and suicide, his last song becoming an S.O.S. of a sinking ship. In an interview with Music Choice Chester said,

“My whole life, I’ve just felt a bit off. I find myself getting into these patterns of behavior and thought — especially when I’m stuck up here [in my head]. I like to say that ‘this is like a bad neighborhood, and I should not go walking alone.’

As someone who has battled depression and suicidal thoughts for over 15 years, I can safely say one of the hardest wars isn’t the beast itself, but feeling constantly misunderstood and alone in the fight.

Other than Chester’s incredible catalogue of music, he also left behind an inspiring legacy of openness about his struggles with mental health and addiction. As someone who travels the country talking about these same battles, I’m not sure I can ever fully portray how impossible and vulnerable sharing those inner-demons can be.

So in honor of Chester’s example and in hopes of continuing to shed light into the darkness of depression and suicidal thoughts, today I am sharing 10 things people without depression take for granted.

1. Sleep

One of the worst parts of depression is the consta

t war with the “right” amount of sleep. Sometimes I’m so worked up emotionally I’ll toss and turn until the sun comes up. Other days, I can sleep 18 hours straight and never feel rested.

The truth is I get so tired of monitoring my sleep. When sleep is the backbone of all health, especially mental health, this struggle can be the hardest of all.

Depression Tips:

  1. Consistently getting 7-8 hours of sleep is important for everyone’s health, but especially those battling depression.

  2. Set an alarm to start winding down to sleep for a consistent time each night as well as one for the morning.

  3. Spend the hour before sleep doing something non-screen related and keep screens out of your bedroom.

  4. Track your sleep and how you feel and consider sharing that with your counselor or doctor.

2. Keeping Plans

I love people more than anything on the planet. I know we are here build strong, close relationships and that is one of the greatest weapons against the loneliness and isolation of this fight.

And yet, when my depression is real bad, I don’t want to be around anyone. If I cancel, I feel guilty and often lose friends who are—understandably—sick of being abandoned. If I go, I’m typically withdrawn, unable to concentrate, and not fun to be around. And I never know when it will hit.

Depression Tips:

  1. Start an open dialogue with your friends and family about your battles with depression or mental illness so they can begin to understand what you’re going through.

  2. Don’t be afraid to tell someone why you’re canceling plans and that you are truly sorry you can’t make it.

  3. Consider powering through the isolation. Sometimes mustering up just enough strength to push myself out of bed and into a room of people love with pull me out of the worst of it.

  4. Accept some people aren’t going to get it and it’s okay to cut yourself some slack.

3. Having a Drink

Most of us know alcohol is a depressant and while it can be a mood-booster in the short-term, there is a strong link between serious alcohol use and depression.

“Nearly one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem. Often, the depression comes first. Research shows that depressed kids are more likely to have problems with alcohol a few years down the road. Also, teens who’ve had a bout of major depression are twice as likely to start drinking as those who haven’t.” –WebMD “Alcohol & Depression.”

Not to mention anti-depressants and alcohol do not mix and can cause serious illness and side-affects (like seizures). Yet, for many, myself included, alcohol is a huge part of our social culture and stopping altogether could cause more isolation or unwanted attention at a time we’re already feeling vulnerable.

Depression Tips:

  1. Have real and honest discussion about your alcohol use with your counselor and doctor. When they ask you how many drinks per week you are having: tell the truth. They are there to help. If, after starting treatment, your alcohol use goes up or down, keep them updated on where you’re at.

  2. Don’t mix alcohol and anti-depressants. Just don’t.

  3. If you’re struggling to cut back, lying about the amount of drinks you have, hiding bottles, or needing a drink in the morning to get started, it might be time to seek some extra help. AA and Celebrate Recovery are two incredible organizations that have helped millions of people take their lives back from addiction.

  4. If your doctor feels you could really benefit from medication, write down ideas about how to navigate tough social situations around your drinking. Decide which people in your life you can tell the truth to so they can support you in your journey.

4. The Stigma

Multiple counselors in my life have advised me against having a depression diagnosis on my record as it can have big impacts on everything from serving in the military to life insurance.

When my first suicide video came out in November 2016, parents of my students called to ask if I was “mentally stable,” and if I should be in a classroom. That felt awesome.

And we wonder why people don’t seek help. We wonder why men especially, try to tough it out and battle it alone. I truly don’t know how to fight the stigma other than sharing stories and becoming more open.

Depression Tips:

  1. Figure out who the safe people are in your life who you could let into the struggles you’re facing.

  2. Get yourself into a community of people where you can be known, like a church small group.

  3. Find a support group in your area. They are an incredible place to share what you’re going through and support others. NAMI is a great place to start.

  4. Accept that at some point, someone is going to through your depression in your face and that is part of their own story, not yours.

5. Romantic Relationships

Aw, now things are getting spicy.

I only seriously pursued 3 women in my 20’s. In a world obsessed with swiping for love, it’s just never happened for me that way.

At 28 I had a “Job year.” (Job is a bible character who lost his family, wealth, and health in one fell swoop). I lived through a relationship ending, losing my church home and community of six years, and my closest guy friend moved 14 hours away. Then I got mono for 6 months.

I found myself in the black hole again going through intense counseling and barely hanging on day-to-day.

And since that year I stopped pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone because I felt I could never ask her to walk through this with me when I can’t promise this all wont come back again and again and again.

There are certainly pockets of hope. This is one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read: To the Man Who Didn’t Run Away When I Told Him What My Pills Were For

But when you know how low life can be, long-term romantic relationships can feel downright impossible.

Depression Tips:

  1. Sorry folks, don’t have any tips here… yet. 😉

6. Trusting Your Hunger

Another warning sign of depression is eating too much or eating too little. Since I started Crossfit a year ago, I learned I was eating 1,000 less daily calories than by body needed.