Honest answers to questions about my depression

I have chronic depression. I have had it since I was in junior high, but I have always known I had a problem. Due to my flair for dramatics, I was left untreated until I was 19. I don’t blame anybody for that, because I had become skilled in the art of deflection. Most people would say that I was one of the happiest people that you could meet. My friends and leaders would have told you my smile was contagious.

When I was 18, I developed an anxiety disorder, making it harder to act like things were OK. If people noticed, they didn’t say anything. I would retreat into my room for hours and barely talk to my family. I was short-tempered and always exhausted despite the fact that I would sleep 10 hours a day. I couldn’t feel anything. I became numb, and every time I would start to feel anything, I would crank my metal music and stop. Eventually, I sought help and those close to me became aware of what I was really going through. Since “coming out” as a person with depression people ask me a lot of the same things quite often. So here, I am responding to them.

1. “Are you OK?”

This is loaded question. I have my good days and my bad days: days that I don’t feel like I can go on and days I am over the moon.

2. “Are you going to group therapy?” 

Yes, group is an important thing to help you work out your problems. You can meet with people who are in similar places. It’s a safe place and what is said can’t leave the room. But no, I am not a part of a group, and to be honest, I am OK with that for now.

3. “You’re smiling; you don’t have depression, right?”

Yes, I do. Depression doesn’t always mean that you’re crying or actively sad all the time. It’s a different kind of feeling.

4. “What’s it like having depression?”

Depression is different for everyone, and is caused by different things, which affects the time it lasts and how it feels. For me, it’s like this: everyone is given a bucket to fill with their emotions. My bucket just has rocks in it. So I don’t have as much room for my emotions. Sometimes even small things “set me off.”

5. “What happened to make you so depressed?”

Well nothing really “happened,” I just have a nice little chemical imbalance that makes me sad sometimes. Different things will make it worse or better.

6. “How can I help?”

This is my most favorite thing to hear and the most helpful thing to say! It means that you are willing to stand by my side and help me with this. The answer is just to act the same and treat me as you would normally, but understand that sometimes I won’t want to go out all the time or be “up” and cheerful. I will always be thankful for your support.

Kendra Whorff resides in California with her two cats and chihuahua. During the day she is a mild-mannered cook at a local dive, but at night she is a crazy cat lady who listens to Christmas music year round. You can most often find her on a couch reading a Jane Austin book while drinking English Breakfast Tea. If you want to know more, you can follow her on Twitter @kendiesmiles.

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