Suppose you have a pebble in your shoe. Despite this nagging distraction, you try your best to make your life work. You get a massage, drink a margarita, fall in love, win the lottery. You do what you do, but still there is this pebble in your shoe.
Now suppose you’ve always had a pebble in your shoe. Something never feels quite right, but this is all you know. In fact, you don’t even think of it as going through life with a pebble in your shoe. You just think of it as life. So you eat an ice cream cone, but part of your mind keeps flashing: foot, foot, foot . . . In time, maybe you give up on ice cream cones. Maybe you give up on life itself – because what’s the point of trying to enjoy anything or accomplish anything so long as you are distracted by your throbbing foot?
What’s the first step toward getting rid of the pebble in your shoe? Recognizing there is a pebble in your shoe.
Taking the First Step
Depression is like this. Many people struggle with depression without realizing it. Maybe episodes of feeling blue come and go throughout your life. Maybe you feel a constant heaviness weighing you down. Maybe enough is never enough. You come to view your life through this depressive lens. You become deeply frustrated, exhausted, pessimistic. You turn to substances, sex, money, achievement, but nothing seems to work. You can’t fix a pebble in your shoe with an ice cream cone, and you can’t fix depression by getting another promotion or even marrying your ideal partner.
The first step toward treating depression is recognizing you are depressed. Sleep issues, constant worrying, struggles with focus and motivation, chronic irritability and anger, dissatisfaction with your closest relationships, feelings of being trapped in your job or some other life situation–these are often symptoms of clinical depression. The good news is depression can be treated. Everyone experiences depression differently, and no one treatment is ideal for everyone. If you suspect you may be suffering from depression, consider meeting with a mental health professional. You don’t have to struggle with depression on your own. Help is available. Hope begins when you simply recognize change is possible.