Depression is a very debilitating disease, as many of us know too well. People who haven't suffered its crippling effects will never understand it, which is why having a support group is so important. Remember that isolation is your enemy. You need to spend time with, or at least talk to, people who know what you’re going through and can empathize with you. Spending time with people who don’t understand, and who make comments which make you feel as if you're to blame, only serves to take you deeper into the abyss of depression.
I am a strong advocate for talk therapy. I always say, “No one is perfect. We all have varying degrees of ‘screwed-up-edness’.” Everyone has issues, and sometimes it takes talking to a professional to help us through them. There is no shame in reaching out for help. The shame is in refusing to get help, and allowing your depression to hurt everyone who loves you. So even if you don’t care enough for yourself to get help, do it for your loved ones, because your depression hurts them, too.
At mental health centers, there are also group therapies for different types of illnesses and issues. Group therapy can be extremely helpful, as it gives you a sense of community. Among the lies that depression tells you are that you’re all alone, and that you’re just a loser. Being a part of a group of people who suffer the same types of symptoms, and have similar issues to your own, will validate your feelings and help boost your self-esteem. Your symptoms are not imagined, and you didn’t choose to be this way any more than anyone chooses to have pneumonia. It’s a disease which can be treated, and you have to see it that way.
Many people who are suffering from depression are caught in the web of addiction. Without first addressing the addiction(s), the depression is likely to get worse, rather than better. Twelve-step programs can be found everywhere, and are a very welcoming and non-judgmental group. If you try a group in which you don’t particularly feel comfortable, try others. Different groups have different feels to them, and you’ll be able to find one where you feel that you fit in.
Addictions of loved ones can also cause or contribute to your depression. It hurts to watch someone you love stagger, slur, or fall because he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can try to get them to seek help, but ultimately it is their own choice, whether or not they give up their drug. However, there is help for loved ones of the addicted. Al-Anon, Alateen and ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) are support groups that are specifically designed for the loved ones of addicts.
The “Depression Site” here (as well as other mental health sites on BellaOnline.com) is another place where you can get information and help. Our forums are open to our readers, and can also give you a sense of community. We are always trying to bring more people into our forums—-the more, the better for all of us. So if you have a few spare minutes, stop by and post a few comments. Any of our site hosts would be happy to get your input and give a few words of encouragement.
The important thing to remember while suffering from depression is that it is not your fault that you feel this way. Don’t let people make you feel worse by telling you things like, “If you’d just get out and get a job…” or “If you would just stop feeling sorry for yourself…” Either avoid people like that, or remind yourself that they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’ve never walked in your shoes, and until they do, they will never “get it.” But millions of us do get it, and we are rooting for you. And we’re rooting for ourselves, too, so reach out to others who feel your pain. It’s amazing, how much better it makes you feel to know that you’re not alone-—and you’re not.