3 min read

Most people think they understand depression. They think that it's a sadness people experience. Maybe some experience it more than others, maybe some are just complaining.

I have depression. I have bad depression. If you're curious about what depression really means, read on. If not, just hit the like button and continue on. FYI, Im no expert...just a man with some experience.

Let's start with the basics. Depression is a disease. Depression can affect anyone. Depression can be both terminal and lethal. Luckily for me, the later isn't true personally.

Second, depression requires medication or treatment. That's not weakness, it's just good practice. If I have a cold, I'm going to take Tylenol and drink lots of liquids. If I have depression, I'm going to take SSRIs or whatever my medical professional prescribes. If I have acid reflux I take an antacid...if I have depression and anxiety (often the two go hand in hand) I go to talk therapy.

Third, depression has bizarre and often contradictory symptoms. Most people think of it as just a big sad time, but it can be more nuianced than that. Many times with men, depression shows up as irritability or anger. It can cause even the most simple of tasks to feel like insurmountable goals: getting out of bed, getting in the shower, leaving your house, leaving your room, going to work or activities you used to love.

Fourth, just because I seem pleasant doesn't mean I'm not depressed. People can seem happy, charming and down right enjoyable AND be cripplingly depressed. There's sometimes a hard time to express the darkness of depression to everyday people, and honestly most people just want to hear "living the dream" when they ask you how you are.

Fifth, depression ebbs and flows. There may be a day when I feel like a million dollars, and the next day I'll feel like the universe has chewed me up and spit me into the cosmic garbage disposal.

Sixth, and most importantly, we are doing our best. I'm not lazy (even though I often feel that way), I'm not trying to offend you by being antisocial or aloof, and I'm not just sad. I can't just get over it. If I could stop feeling like this on a whim, I would - trust me. Honestly the fact that people consider depression to be able to be over come by sheer willpower confounds me. Who would want to stay like this? I'll answer that hypothetical: absolutely no one.

Now I don't speak for all depressed and anxious people in the world. That's the thing - my experience with depression could be completely different than someone else's. If you want to help, just give support. I'm not an invalid, I'm not incapable, and I'm not crazy. I've just got some excess chemicals (or lack thereof).

MENTAL HEALTH IS THE SAME AS PHYSICAL HEALTH! However, society has a better time believing that you should stay home when you have the flu than when you're depressed. (And yes I know that depression isn't contagious...) I'm not even advocating for special treatment. I just hope that soon we can talk openly about mental health and depression instead of silently whispering in corners about our shared experiences.

I would be remiss if I didn't end this by saying: if you are depressed, try and get help. If you are suicidal, GET HELP IMMEDIATELY because people love you and would scale mountains to make sure you are alright. Hell, reach out to me if you need to - I'm no professional but I can help get you moving in the right direction.

With everyone talking about healthcare, let's remember the holistic health, the silent and sometimes deadly health, and those who suffer without society's acknowledgement. I am lucky enough to have adequate treatment, but there are plenty who don't. Let's make sure those individuals remain covered and stay safe. This isn't a partisan issue, it's a humanist issue.

Michael Haas

I write, sometimes I tweet @michaeljhaas, sometimes I act. I'm trying to direct more.