What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Rachel.

You know how sometimes
we have to force ourselves to do things we know are good for us? Maybe
for you, it’s forcing yourself to go to the gym. Maybe it means forcing
yourself to cook a healthy meal instead of going through the
drive-thru. Maybe it looks like writing one more page when you just
want to go watch TV. Maybe it means getting out of bed to go to class.
Whatever it is, we all know that feeling.

Now imagine that not
only do you have to force yourself to do things you don’t necessarily
want to do, but that you also have to force yourself to do things that
you DO want to do.

For me, and I suspect for many others, that is
what depression feels like. When I am in the midst of depression, I
have to force myself to spend time with friends, go to church, call my
family, and paint my nails, all things I usually love to do. Depression
makes every moment of every day a struggle. If living life is swimming
25 laps in a pool, living life with depression is swimming 25 laps
through mud.

Depression is not just physical, just psychological,
or just spiritual. Many times it is all three at once. And it’s not
always the same. Sometimes you’re swimming through mud. Sometimes
you’re in a pit with no way to climb out. Sometimes you’re running full
speed towards health, and depression is nipping at your heels.
Sometimes it is the desert that you thought you left behind until you
realize you were merely at an oasis, not in paradise.

I want you to know what depression can feel like, but I also want you to know there are some things it is NOT.

Depression
is NOT something to be ashamed of or hidden. If you are trying to make
it through depression alone, you will fail every time. Get support.
Tell people you trust and help them understand what you are going
through. Depression will only be hidden in the dark as long as we
refuse to shine a light on it.

Depression is NOT something you
can snap out of. It is not treatable with food or shopping or sex;
often that will only make things worse. If you know your friend is
struggling with depression and it makes her not the most pleasant person
to be around, be around her anyway. She needs your support and love,
not a bandaid or a lecture.

If you are a Christian, Depression does NOT mean you are doing it wrong. “Christians are happy and joyful, right? How can I be a
Christian if I am depressed?” Depression may stem from choices you’ve
made in your life, but it can also be spiritual attack or your personal
version of Paul’s thorn in the side. It does not mean that God loves
you any less. David was depressed, Elijah was
depressed – these were men who loved the Lord and who He named as His.